Psoriasis is a complicated disease driven by inflammation. This inflammation is thought to extend beyond the skin and may lead to problems throughout the body for many people.

An increasing amount of evidence suggests that psoriasis may be closely related to dental health.

Take a look at the connection between psoriasis and dental disease below and learn what you can do to promote good oral hygiene.

While psoriasis typically affects the skin on the elbows, knees, or scalp, it can actually present anywhere — even in the mouth.

Oral psoriasis is less common than psoriasis in other areas, but patches may appear on the:

  • lips
  • tongue
  • other surfaces of the mouth

Although psoriasis can’t be directly on your teeth, it may cause other problems in your mouth, which can lead to loosening of teeth and tooth decay.

Although the exact mechanisms remain unclear, psoriasis is thought to be connected to some dental problems, possibly because of inflammation.

Gum disease

Of all dental problems, the relationship between psoriasis and gum disease, or periodontitis, has been studied the most.

If you have psoriasis, you have a higher risk of developing gum disease. Some studies, including one from 2018 and another from 2020, suggest that individuals with psoriasis are more likely to have gum disease than those without psoriasis.

This relationship appears to be stronger when either disease is in its severe form. One study from 2016 found that gum disease was more common in people with severe psoriasis than in those with mild psoriasis. A 2020 study found that severe periodontitis is more common in people with psoriasis than those without.

Gum bleeding after probing and brushing teeth, a sign of gum disease, is also more common among individuals with psoriasis.

Tooth loss or decay

People with psoriasis may be more likely to have decayed or missing teeth compared with those without psoriasis, according to findings from a small 2020 study.

This may be explained in part by how acidic a person’s saliva is. Acidic saliva can cause teeth to lose minerals, leading to tooth decay. Researchers of a 2013 study found that individuals with psoriasis had more acidic saliva than those without psoriasis.

Bad breath

No studies have specifically examined the relationship between psoriasis and bad breath, also known as halitosis, but psoriasis is associated with things that can cause bad breath.

According to the American Dental Association, these include:

  • gum disease
  • tooth decay
  • mouth sores

More acidic saliva is also thought to increase the risk of bad breath.

A proactive approach to dental health is important with psoriasis. Because it’s associated with more frequent dental problems, you may find yourself at the dentist more often.

While one small study of 69 people found that individuals with psoriasis were not any more likely to have dental fillings, it also found that they were missing teeth over twice as often compared with people without psoriasis.

When getting dental work done, it may also matter what metals are used in your mouth. Although the results from different studies have varied, recent research suggests that individuals with psoriasis may be more likely to be sensitive to nickel, a metal commonly used in dental procedures.

Be sure to discuss with your doctor if you have a history of sensitivity to nickel or any other metals.

Given the increased risk of dental problems with psoriasis, it’s important to stay on top of your dental health.

  • Practice good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride-containing toothpaste, and don’t skip flossing.
  • Visit your dentist regularly. Routine dental cleanings are important for maintaining good oral health. One visit per year is great, but the American Dental Association suggests that people at increased risk of dental disease may benefit from more frequent visits.
  • Avoid acidic foods and drinks. While fine in moderation, eating acidic foods can increase the risk of dental problems. Avoid food or drinks that are citrus or citrus-flavored, carbonated, or sour.

In addition to your regular dental visits, be sure to talk with your doctor if you experience:

  • red, swollen, or bleeding gums
  • constant bad breath
  • loose teeth
  • mouth sores

Although they might seem unrelated, evidence shows that psoriasis and dental health are connected. The exact cause of this relationship is still being studied, but chronic inflammation throughout the body likely contributes to both conditions.

Staying on top of your dental health is especially important if you have psoriasis. Be sure to practice good oral hygiene and work with your dentist to create the right care plan for your needs.