Rheumatoid arthritis

There has been an increase in medical studies looking at the link between gum disease and Rheumatoid arthritis.

In 2012 a European study reported that 65% of patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) had periodontal disease compared with only 28% of patients without. In addition they found that those with RA were a staggering four times more likely to have periodontal disease gum disease compared with their arthritis free counterparts and their gum disease tended to be more severe.

A separate Italian study showed tooth loss was associated with joint symptoms in a group of first-degree relatives of people with Rheumatoid Arthritis, which put them at increased risk of getting RA themselves. The fewer teeth people had in their mouth the greater their risk for joint inflammation. Those with less than 20 teeth had eight times the risk of one or more swollen joints when compared to those with all their original 32 teeth.

It had always been assumed that having Rheumatoid Arthritis increased the risk of gum disease however although the latest research has not yet proven a cause and effect, increasingly it is revealing that gum disease in patients with RA doesn’t always come after RA – in some cases it comes before it and could be a predictor of future RA.

With the link between RA and gum disease now firmly established, the logical next step was to assess whether treating gum disease could help prevent or treat those with RA.

This is exactly what a study from Ohio suggested. In a small study of 40 patients with periodontal disease and RA, those who had additional conventional gum treatment had a significantly increased improvement in their arthritis symptoms compared with those patients who were only given treatment for their RA.

If you have RA, the message is clear, take good care of your oral health and particularly your gums, if you don’t have RA you may even prevent it from occurring or reduce its severity.

It’s important to work with your doctor to get arthritis under control however coming to see us at Life Dental & Wellbeing could potentially save both your teeth and your joints.