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Gum Disease and Arthritis

Written by Dan Abril.

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Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic condition that affects a person’s joints and linings. The disorder develops when a person’s immune system misclassifies a person’s protein and works overtime to defeat it.

Why this happens is still not clear but doctors and experts have attributed it to genetics or environmental factors. Recently however, researchers have discovered that there is a correlation between gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis. 

The Link

Comparing and analysing synovial fluid samples from rheumatoid sufferers and from those who don’t suffer the condition, dental researchers from Germany found that those who have rheumatoid arthritis carry the DNA of the bacteria that cause gingivitis infections. This latest research highlights previous studies between gingivitis to arthritis.

Earlier, researchers from the New York Hospital for Joints Diseases discovered that there is a link between gingivitis and rheumatoid arthritis. Comparing samples from sufferers and non-sufferers, the study revealed that those who have arthritis had greater exposure to the gingivitis bacteria and those with worse gum disease exhibit severe arthritis.

How bacteria found in the mouth can lead to arthritis is still not clear but according to other reports and studies, it could be through extra-oral translocation, which simply means that the bacteria are moving from the oral cavity to other areas of the body.

Prevention

Fortunately, gum disease in its early stages can be treated and be reversed but if left unchecked, it can worsen and lead to a developed stage of gum disease that affects more than the gums. The best treatment against gum disease is to keep the gums healthy. Regular dental visits and observing proper oral health care through brushing and flossing lessens the bacteria.

However, if you are already suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, proper brushing and cleaning can be difficult. The American Dental Association (ADA) have suggested the following to make it easier for the patient:

•    Look for toothbrushes that are easier to grip.
•    Use mouthwash to prevent cavities.
•    Explore other types of floss available.
•    Quit smoking.
•    Discuss the problem with your dentist.

Finally, remember that early detection is the best defence. Should you show symptoms of gum disease, visit your dentist. For inquiries, feel free to email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

References:
http://arthritis.about.com/od/rheumatoidarthritis/f/periodontal.htm
http://www.everydayhealth.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/the-link-between-gum-disease-and-rheumatoid-arthritis.aspx
http://www.hopkinsarthritis.org/physician-corner/rheumatology-rounds/round-34-periodontal-disease-and-rheumatoid-arthritis/