Gum Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Do you have rheumatoid arthritis? And, on a perhaps surprisingly related subject, are you taking care of your teeth?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is defined (Mayo Clinic) as a chronic inflammatory, autoimmune disorder that can not only affect your joints but also other areas in the body including your eyes, lungs, skin and heart. It differs from osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, which is a degenerative joint disease, in that it affects the lining of the joints and can result in joint deformity.

In a Stanford University-led study, researchers pointed to periodontal disease releasing bacteria into the bloodstream which activates an inflammatory response.

As reported in Medical Xpress, “the researchers wanted to know whether the bacteria were causing the immune response, or if the RA was causing the response to the bacteria. While the researchers discovered that “oral bacteria induce systemic inflammatory response if they find their way into the blood,” the researchers concluded that “future studies are needed to determine whether improved oral care may provide therapeutic benefits of the management of RA.”

Why Take a Chance?

Other studies in the past point to a relationship between increased levels of gum disease in individuals at risk of RA and links to numerous serious and life-threatening conditions like heart disease, dementia, increased risk of cancer, erectile dysfunction, respiratory disfunction and even more severe COVID outcomes.

Once gum disease has developed into periodontitis, a more serious form of infection and inflammation between the teeth and gums, you can experience issues like abscesses, tooth movement and tooth loss if not treated. Periodontitis can’t be cured, but it can be managed with professional periodontal deep cleaning visits and, if necessary, gum surgery to help repair damage.

The best way to prevent periodontitis is with simple oral hygiene—twice daily brushing and flossing and regular visits with your dental professionals.

If you’re experiencing discomfort or are experiencing other gum-related issues like soreness, bleeding gums or bad breath not attributable to other health issues, keep in mind that treating gum disease early on may help prevent the need for more extensive and expensive treatment down the road.

Schedule an appointment with us today. We look forward to being able to help save your smile!