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Tooth/mouth problems in Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Saturday 5 April 2014


From's Adrienne Dellwo:


Woman with mouth pain
(Photo Colin Anderson/Getty Images)

Tooth/Mouth Problems in Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

March 26, 2014

Do you have tooth or mouth problems that you think are part of your fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome? A lot of people wonder about this, gauging from the amount of conversations it spawns online. Sadly, though not surprisingly, we have very little research on most of these issues.

TMJ & Bruxism

The ones we know most about are TMJ (temporomandibular disorder) and bruxism (teeth grinding.) We know those are both more common in us than in the general population, and they both can have far-reaching consequences on oral health.

Bruxism is believed to be tied to chronic activation of the fear/anxiety response, which also is involved in our conditions. It makes you clench and grind your teeth while you're asleep, which can disrupt sleep, cause excessive wear or even breakage of your teeth, and lead to TMJ, which is a potentially serious condition of the jaw.

TMJ can cause pain, ranging from mild to severe, as well as clicking and popping in your jaw, and in severe cases, a locking jaw. Because of all the muscles involved, TMJ pain can radiate around your face and down your neck, and it can also cause headaches.

Gum Pain & Inflammation

So far, we really don't have research on pain and inflammation in the gums and other oral tissues, but you can find people talking about this online, and some dental-health workers recognize it as a problem in us.

We have solid evidence of inflammation in chronic fatigue syndrome, and recent research on connective-tissue inflammation in fibromyalgia is pretty compelling. If we have widespread inflammation, it stands to reason we'd have it in the mouth. Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome both involve hyperalgesia (amplified pain,) so any gum pain caused by inflammation can be extra painful. (That goes for other sources of mouth pain, as well.)

The last dental hygienist I saw was startlingly well educated on these matters. She talked to me about how that connective-tissue inflammation could cause redness and sensitivity in us as well as a likelihood of bleeding when we brush and floss.

A visit to the dentist can be especially painful for us. Good communication with your dentist and dental staff can help you identify problems and possible solutions. For help, see:

Mouth Sores

Mouth sores - like cankers and cold sores - are another thing you can find a lot of chatter about. I did find one study comparing fibromyalgia and lupus that said we had fewer mouth sores than people with lupus, but it didn't say how we compared to the control group.

However, that raises a good point - mouth sores are common in a lot of autoimmune diseases. We know fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome both involve immune dysfunction, and some evidence suggests autoimmunity. Either way, a malfunctioning immune system can allow for the proliferation of viruses that cause mouth sores, such as herpesviruses (which have been linked to chronic fatigue syndrome.)

We're also likely to have allergies and sensitivities to foods, and some of those can cause cankers and mouth pain. I get cankers from pineapple, tomatoes and walnuts, and gluten burns my gums and tongue.


The above, with comments, originally appeared here.

See also: Emergency Dentists (US)


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