Treating Gum Disease Helps Rheumatoid Arthritis
Here's one more reason to keep your teeth healthy.
People who suffer from gum disease and also have a severe form of rheumatoid arthritis reduced their arthritic pain, number of swollen joints, and the degree of morning stiffness when they cured their dental problems. Researchers from the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine and University Hospitals of Cleveland reported on this new intervention for arthritis in the Journal of Periodontology.
"It was exciting to find that if we eliminated the infection and inflammation in the gums, then patients with a severe kind of active rheumatoid arthritis reported improvement on the signs and symptoms of that disease," said Dr. Nabil Bissada, chairman of the periodontics department at the dental school. "It gives us a new intervention."
This is not the first time that gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis have been linked. Another researcher in the study, Dr. Ali Askari, chairman of the rheumatology department at University Hospitals, said, "From way back, rheumatologists and other clinicians have been perplexed by the myth that gum disease may have a big role in causing systematic disease."
Historically, teeth were pulled or antibiotics given for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, which actually treated the periodontitis, he said. The patients got better.
Both inflammatory diseases share similarities in the progression of the disease over time. In both diseases, the soft and hard tissues are destroyed from inflammation caused by toxins from bacterial infection.
"I'm optimistic that someday the biologic agents that we use successfully in treatment of rheumatoid arthritis will lead to improvement of periodontitis and would be available for use and treatment of this perplexing problem," Askari said.
"Again we are seeing another link where good oral health improves the overall health of an individual," said Bissada, who added that studies have linked gum disease to premature births, heart disease, and diabetes.
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