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Painful gums/teeth, can it be connected?

hello again!

I went to the dentist 4 weeks ago with tenderness but couldn't point out exactly to dentist which tooth I thought it was from, she removed 2 fillings to see if there was an underlying problem, there wasn't so I am due to go back in a couple of weeks to see how things are...

So now it feels as if the pain is spreading all round my other teeth, feels like nerve pain and it's very sensitive to heat/cold.

I'm starting to get a bit peeved as I'm loosing my hair and now worry my teeth are going to go as well!! :)

I am on enbrel and MTX and RA is under control......

11 Replies

Hi Wiliby, I'm afraid MTX does affect teeth according to my GP and dentist.

I'm surprised your dentist hasn't done an x ray as that would show any underlying problem like an abscess. It may just be that your teeth are irritable. Try using a mouthwash such as Corsydyl and a sensitive toothpaste - they might help.

It may just be that your teeth have become extra sensitive and simple steps like a mouthwash and a toothpaste to tackle sensitivity can do the trick.

MTX also affects the hair as well. One of the side effects we have to put up with to remain free of pain. However, I understand that once you stop having to take MTX, your hair should grow back again. MTX is a chemotherapy drug in much larger doses than we take and it does cause hair to fall out. With our dosage it usually causes hair to thin rather than fall out. You can get thickening shampoos which help or your hairdresser may be able to suggest something to help. I know my hair has thinned out a lot since being on MTX and I do use hair extensions to help thicken it up again.

Glad to see the RA is under control after all the problems you have had.

Best wishes. LavendarLady x


Hi Wiliby, did your dentist take xrays?

I've had terrible problems with my teeth and gums over the last couple of yr, feel like I might as well move my bed into one of the rooms I've been there so many times.

The reason I ask about xrays is my problem is repeated infections (which only showed on xrays) in my gums it's an area where a root cavity was done many yrs ago. Apparently the dentist didn't go deep enough with the filling leaving a small void which keeps getting infected. When the infection builds up my teeth/gums becomes very sore and the pain spreads up my cheek and down into my glands in my neck.

Once on antibiotics it clears in about 5 days, my dentist is now talking about removing the tooth with the root cavity and cleaning out the gum properly.

I'd ask for them to xray if only to rule out infections.

Hope this helps

Beth xx


Thanks LL and Beth,

Sorry should have mentioned that she did take an x-ray with no sign of infection although it does feel like it may be just that....

As for the hair loss, I've tried various treatments however I also have allergies to liquid soap and citrus so most shampoos are a nightmare, hopefully the mxt will be reduced when I see consultant next but I'd rather feel good and bald than bad and hairy!lol.....

I also had a thought, my late Mum lost her teeth after the birth of my brother maybe I should mention this to dentist also, stupid hormones! (Although baby is now 1 year old)

I'll try the mouthwash though and ask again of the possibility of infection.

Thanks :) xx


Hi Williby. I have read on several sites that RA and gum disease are thought to be closely connected and people with RA should take special care of their gums.

I mentioned to my dentist earlier this week that i was shortly to start MTX but he just shrugged and looked completely disinterested and said it wasn't a drug that affected dentistry so it's interesting to read what you say LL because that is what I thought too? I know I got a really sore itchy rash when on Sulphasalizine and went to the dentist then because my gums felt so weird and sore/ itchy too for a few days but guess this was just a reaction to the Sulpha because my dentist couldn't see anything at all. I really do think the two are connected quite closely though so might be worth asking your rheumy nurse perhaps?

Re hairloss - well we won't go there for now eh (but there are other DMARDs that work better or as well for some and don't have that particular side effect) so if I start losing mine I'll be asking to try them as alternative to MTX. Easy to say now when the pain in my hands is still quite severe but if that goes but the hair does too I'll really have a problem I can see.

Take care and hope your teeth get better soon. Tilda xx


Ps oh and sure you know about this but I meant to say that I found and organic volumising shampoo and conditioner in the Body Shop the other day and used them last night and my hair is all bouncy today - wonder if you'd also be allergic to that? Also my nan used to wash my hair in egg yoke when my eczema was really bad as a child.


Hi Williby

I have suffered with tooth problems for the last few years. Sometimes my teeth ache and the dentist cannot find anything wrong. I have been told that the Humira I take can cause problems with your teeth and gums. I understand that if you have RA you have to be extra extra careful with oral hygiene. Good luck hope that you are pain free soon. S


Hi Williby, Yes , RA can affect your teeth..Some can have degenerative bone disease with RA (Which is why we take MTX to stop it)

The jaw bones themselves can be affected by degenerative bone disease. It will cause the teeth to eventually become loose, and that's when infections can occur. Staying on MTX and other drugs should prevent further degeneration and destruction.

Degenerative changes should show up on Xrays, if the dentist knows what to look for.

You are on good meds and if RA is under control, you should be fine. RA can make the jaw ache, but it won't be able to cause degeneration. Hope this helps.

PS : Got this info from an Orthodontist that spoke to my Arthritis/Fibro Support Group. Enjoy a nice weekend, can't beieve it's Sat. already! Loret


HI Wilby - i have had problems with my teeth from i was diagnosed with ra - from infections to tenderness to abnormal abcesses - i have been on metx and arava and just painkillers over the course of the year with continuous teeth probs so i think it is more ra.

Oh just read Lorets post there - thats very informative. Good to have some facts.


Hi all, I have something going on with my gums too. My gums swell and abscess. I thought it was the Mtx, but I skipped a week and it didn't get any better. I continued taking Arava and then my gum got worse, so maybe it's that one. My gum is so tender, that I can hardly brush my teeth on that side anymore.

I have JRA and my jaw/mouth is very small, so going to the Dentist is not a pleasant experience for me. She is good about giving me breaks though, to rest my arthritic jaw during procedures. My doctor told me to split the Mtx during the day, so take 4 in the morning then 4 in the evening. I'll have to try that next to see if it helps.


Since i have had RA (4 years) my teeth have got really bad, i have been to the dentist only regular occasions and had the odd filling now n again as i was growing up i put this down to me eating sweets n chocolate n drinking sugary drinks i have always been able to eat what i want since i was little because i am slim and was athletic but in the last 2 years my teeth have become a huge problem, my dentist knows i have RA and i have said i do eat and drink the wrong things. Ive had to have 14 fillings over the last year or so and two root canals done and one tooth pulled out. I had an idea that RA may have something to do with my teeth getting worse but my dentist just gave me huge lecture about my diet. I have tried to improve it and everyone around me encourages me to keep it up but i get bad dry mouth and i tend to drink robinsons no added sugar juice the majority of the time even at night. Now my gums have started bleeding when i brush and i brush more than twice a day sometimes coz it helps with the dry mouth. Is there anywhere i can get some info about teeth/gums and RA ??

Thanks Gwen


Hi , are your teeth roots exposed due to gum retraction? This can cause varying pain which can be difficult to locate. The use of toothpastes which address sensitivity can help but a more effective treatment is a plastic coating which can be applied by the Dentist.

The tooth surface is cleaned & then a liquid applied tp the affected surface areas & then UV light is used to solidify the liquid which forms a hard coating.


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