Rheumatoid arthritis and oral health do have a link. For patients with arthritis it is especially important you see the dentist regularly to help prevent gum disease. Research shows a strong connection between gum disease and arthritis. A German study published in the Journal of Periodontology showed that people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has more gum disease than people without RA. The researchers found that RA patients were eight times more likely to develop gum disease than people without RA.
The key to the link between these two conditions seems to be inflammation. Inflammation is what happens when our immune system responds to viruses and bacteria. Gum disease is caused by bacteria and triggers this inflammatory process. RA is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system mistakenly triggers inflammation even though there are no viruses or bacteria to fight. Researcher Dr. Scott Zashin suggests that it may be possible that the immune system is stimulated by the mouth infection and inflammation “setting off a cascade of events where inflammation develops at the site of joints or arthritis.”
The Journal of Periodontology published additional research that showed that when people with severe RA cleared up their gum disease, their pain and other symptoms improved. This research from Case Western Reserve University showed that patients who received both standard RA treatment AND treatment for their gum disease reported significant improvements in their symptoms compared to the control group who had only received the RA treatment.
Next – some tips for RA patients to make their home oral health care a little easier.
Please contact Rothfus Family Dental in Medford, OR today at 541-858-7994 to schedule your next dental hygiene appointment. We can help keep your gums in tip top shape.