Impact of rheumatic diseases on oral health and quality of life

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We investigated the effects of rheumatic diseases on oral symptoms, health habits, and quality of life in subjects with and without rheumatic diseases. The hypothesis was that patients with rheumatic diseases have more oral symptoms impairing their quality of life than healthy controls.


A questionnaire was mailed to a random sample of 1500 members of the Finnish Rheumatism Association, including those with and without rheumatic diseases. We focused on symptoms of the mouth and temporomandibular area, and health habits. Oral Health Impact Profile (OHIP14) was used to evaluate the oral health-related quality of life. We analyzed differences between subjects with and without rheumatic diseases, controlled for age, gender, smoking, and non-rheumatic chronic diseases.


Completed questionnaires were received from 995 participants (response rate 66%). Of them, 564 reported rheumatic disease, 431 were used as controls. The patients reported significantly more all orofacial symptoms than controls. Severe dry mouth was reported by 19.6% of patients and 2.9% of controls (P < 0.001), and temporomandibular joint symptoms by 59.2% and 27.2% (P < 0.001), respectively. In the OHIP-14 questionnaire, the mean total score was significantly higher in patients (8.80 ± 11.15) than in controls (3.93 ± 6.60; P < 0.001).


The study hypothesis was confirmed by showing that the patients with rheumatic diseases reported oral discomfort and reduced quality of life more often when compared with controls.

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