Overcoming the Dental Dilemma


finding balance

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.

Carrie lives in Minnesota with her husband and 3 cat children. She works full-time as an administrative assistant. Carrie was diagnosed with Fibromyagia 40 years after her first flare. She enjoys watching sports and spending time with family and friends.
Carrie lives in Minnesota with her husband and 3 cat children. She works full-time as an administrative assistant. Carrie was diagnosed with Fibromyagia 40 years after her first flare. She enjoys watching sports and spending time with family and friends.

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  1. Pam Walker says:

    HI all….my dentist gives me a topical numbing solution on my gums before a cleaning, even though I have good teeth cleaning still hurts. We also make sure and take a lot of breaks during the procedure so my jaw can rest.
    Anything beyond a cleaning gets a full numbing and gentle care!
    If your dentist is not fully compassionate…..get a new one!!!!


    I have developed so many dental problems since being diagnosed in spite of regular cleanings. I have gingivitis, during this year so far have had to have a tooth pulled and an implant done, another cracked tooth capped. I believe some of this is due to dry mouth and my periodontist recommended BIOTENE products. I have been using the Oral Rinse (actually found it at Dollar General for $9) and it really creates saliva I thought I would never have again! Don’t know if this will help anyone but I’ hooked!

  3. Anastasia Turchetta RDH says:

    Depending on your current state of oral health, will direct which product or oral hygiene home care regimen will be best for you. My mom lived with fibromyalgia so I’ve got both personal & professional experience with this dental dilemma. First, I’d suggest to make your health & wellness visits with your dental hygienist during late morning or early afternoon. This time frame seemed easier on my patients as their medication & ability to move without as much pain was best for them. Next, I’d suggest asking for a blanket or take your own, extreme temperature changes in our treatment rooms may enhance your pain. Third, if you have tender gums, ask for a product that will numb your gums ( I used Oraqix) I also used a polish ahead of time on the areas that had more root exposed (gingival recession) … Fourth, I’d suggest rinsing with warm water if possible Fifth get fluoride varnish applied on your root surfaces to help prevent tooth decay and tooth sensitivity Sixth, your diet / beverage choices / lifestyle habits contribute to the health of your mouth & body … Seventh, make sure your home care is above average with using an electric toothbrush, interdental brushes verse floss and the toothpaste that is best for you … no they are not all the same. If you have gum disease, it is a chronic active bacterial infection, so to maintain health it will require health & wellness visits at 3-4 month intervals verse a healthy oral environment at 6 months. Happy to answer any other questions you may have!

  4. Chris says:

    A few years before being diagnosed with FM, dental work became a a more painful experience than usual because it seemed like I could never get numbed enough for even simple procedures. I kept sensing slight nerve pain, feeling the drill just enough to scare me. Now I wonder if it’s not related to the FM. I have a new dentist and told her about my experience and she thinks it could be related. Luckily I haven’t had a need for any more work so far, but I am dreading the day I do. I do pulling and brushing with OraWellness and it has made a big difference.

    • M says:

      I had problems getting numbed enough. Then I found a dentist who knew of some people who have the nerve that they usually inject for numbing in a slightly different place. He numbed me in the alternative place and I never had numbing problems again. It seems to be hereditary. My dad has the same problem. I do oil pulling. It should be for 15 – 20 minutes. I swish gently and rest when my muscles hurt. It still works. It makes my teeth whiter, kills the bacteria in my mouth & soothes inflamed gums. It can also knock out a sore throat when it first starts. It has antiviral properties too so use it at the beginning of a cold or flu. My dentist is a TMJ specialist and he said numbing for jaw pain only (not for other reasons) can actually flare up TMJ pain.

  5. Donna Zegalia says:

    I use a water pik. Yes, some days it is painful but I can put on a different dead and it helps. I get more stuff out of my teeth than I ever did with just flossing.

    • Mary Ann Chase says:

      Can a water pix use warm water? I’d consider one if it could. I bought an elec. tooth brush at hygenists advice…big mistake. It’s awful. My husband says so too. I have peridontal issues and am going in for a regular cleaning next week. I’ve gone thru deep cleaning with numbing a few months ago and it was difficult. I had a special pres. rinse which I’m out of so I hope brushing and individual floss pixs has been enough.

  6. G. Wray says:

    My dentist is wonderful as well as all her staff. She offers me extra good numbing, along with gas.( nitris oxide). Also a blanket. Yes the gas costs a little more but it’s worth it. Also some dentist will offer payment plans.

  7. Allison says:

    I am not a good dental patient. I’m a nurse, mom and have fibro. In an effort to improve I have made small changes. I use a child size toothbrush and use lemon Earthpaste. I have hyper gag reflex and the large brushes hurt my mouth. I can no longer stand mint toothpaste. Earthpaste doesn’t leave an aftertaste (so I can still enjoy my coffee), no fake mint taste and you can swallow it (no worries about spitting when I have to chase twins). I don’t mind brushing, I just have to remember to do it.

  8. Najla A. says:

    I have to use a prescription tooth paste because any other would just make all my teeth hurt with cold and warm food. It was really horrible.
    And the only electric toothbrush that does no harm to my gums is the Oral B, because it has round motions, not up and down like some other brands.
    I had gums problems before, and now I go for cleanings every 6 months, brushing flossing and using alcohol free mouth wash. Sometimes I am so tired that I want to skip flossing, but I like the feeling of clean teeth, and the bed can wait another minute. 🙂
    I noticed that before a fibro flare, I usually have a mouth sore on the palate, always in the same spot. It is VERY painful, to the point that sometimes I cannot sleep – in this case, I use orajel that helps relieve the pain.

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