Juvenile Arthritis and Dental Health: How to Help Your Child Manage Toothbrushing

Dentist Blog

Children with juvenile arthritis may find it hard to complete simple, everyday tasks, especially during flare-ups that make it painful to use their arms and legs. If your child's arthritis affects the arm and hand joints, then there may be times when your child is unable to maintain good oral health routines. For example, your child may find it hard to use a toothbrush or may find brushing or flossing painful at certain times. Your child isn't likely to be happy at you taking over toothbrushing for them—what can you do to help?

Make Oral Care Easier

If your child finds the back-and-forth and up-and-down act of brushing painful with a manual toothbrush, then you may find it helps to switch to an electric toothbrush. These toothbrushes take some of the effort out of brushing, allowing your child to hold and guide the brush rather than having to physically manipulate it.

Flossing can also be a particular problem for people with arthritis. Your child may find it easier to use floss sticks or interdental brushes than regular floss. Alternatively, an electric flosser with a chunky handle that uses air or water to clean between the teeth may be easier to hold and manipulate.

Kids with juvenile arthritis may also have problems getting a firm grip on the small handles of toothbrushes. Padding out a toothbrush handle, say by wrapping sports tape around the handle to make it chunkier, may make the brush easier to hold and to use.

Ask Your Dentist's Advice

It's important to tell your dentist that your child has juvenile arthritis. This allows your dentist to keep a close eye on your child's teeth and gums to spot any potential problems; your dentist may also have some experience of dealing with patients with mobility issues and may be able to give you advice on how to manage your child's oral care, especially if their arthritis is flaring up.

For example, your dentist may recommend that your child have a scale and polish as part of their regular checkup schedule or that you buy an anti-bacterial toothpaste or mouthwash to use during flare-ups. These products can be useful if your child is finding it hard to clean their teeth and gums properly—the toothpaste and mouthwash give some added protection against bacteria that your child may not always be able to clean out of the mouth when brushing is difficult.

Remember, it's important for your child to have regular dental checkups if their oral health may be compromised. Problems with the teeth and gums are often better managed if they are spotted early.


11 June 2018

Teeth And Tears: Dental Dramas Of A School Nurse

I have worked as a school nurse for decades. Children come to me with all sorts of scrapes and bumps and bruises. Black eyes from playing football, sprained wrists from falling off the monkey bars and stomachaches from too many sweets are common complaints. However, the issue that seems to cause the greatest angst is tooth problems. Sometimes a child will have a second tooth knocked out when playing sport and parents arrive in tears. At other times, children come to my office crying because their friends are teasing them about teeth that are discoloured or stick out. I take an active interest in the latest dental news so that I can give parents and children comfort and advice. I have included some of my collected wisdom on these pages. Perhaps this information can help you understand some options when faced with a dental problem. Thank you for reading.