I don’t know many people who enjoy dental appointments, but when you have chronic pain, they can be brutal. Brushing and flossing can be very painful to someone with fibromyalgia, so think how dental procedures must feel.
Besides pain, temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ) are a common symptom of FM and may cause issues during dental exams and procedures. It can be difficult and painful to hold our mouths open for long periods of time.
Money is another problem. Even if you have dental insurance, you know it doesn’t cover much. As long as you only need an annual checkup and cleaning, you are good to go. But if you need anything else, you are footing most of that bill, if not all of it. We fibro warriors have more medical bills than we can handle already. Adding a dental bill to the mix is not always an option.
What some people don’t realize is how important dental health really is. Gum disease (periodontitis and gingivitis) is believed to have a direct correlation with heart disease. It is also linked to numerous conditions, including diabetes, respiratory disease, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
For me, going to the dentist was so traumatizing that I avoided it for 15 years. When I finally dragged myself in because of an abscessed tooth, I wasn’t surprised to learn I had periodontitis as well.
I endured three appointments just to scrape out all the plaque that developed below my gum line. The procedure was sheer torture and cost me more than $1,000 out of pocket. For a short time after, my mouth was happy and healthy. But it wasn’t long before the plaque and sensitive, bleeding gums were back.
I had fallen off the dental health wagon again. Now I’m back where I was before, with horrible, dingy-looking teeth and painful, bleeding gums. I’m sick of being ashamed of my teeth and worried about how the state of my mouth will affect my overall health.
I decided to branch out on my own. I wanted a more natural approach using materials I already had on hand. I searched the internet and found a wealth of information on “oil pulling.” The concept is to use coconut oil to “pull” the toxins and bacteria out of your mouth. This theory is based on traditional Indian medicine that has been practiced for more than 3,000 years. There is growing belief in the dental community that this is a safe option for reducing plaque and bacteria.
Oil pulling involves swishing a tablespoon of coconut oil around in your mouth for 5 to 20 minutes, which I do while in the shower. Spit it out in the garbage, because it could clog your drain. In only a week, I’ve already noticed a difference in the color of my gums. I started using a homemade whitening toothpaste as well, and I’ve also seen improvements there.
Please note that this regimen is not recommended to replace regular dental visits. For those of us who may not be able to get to the dentist as often, however, it could make a difference in our overall health and well-being.
The importance of good dental health cannot be stressed enough. Even though visits to the dentist can be a painful experience, there are ways to make it less horrific. Check around for doctors who understand chronic pain and who may use less invasive treatments or even sedation to make your visit more pleasant. Discuss your condition with the doctor and be honest if something causes pain or discomfort.
Please take care of your choppers, your life may depend on it!
Do you have a tip or some advice for handling dental visits? Do you have a natural regimen that works for you?
Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.