Periodontal Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Periodontal Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Connection

Periodontal disease and rheumatoid arthritis are connected and can influence each other. It’s even possible that one can cause the other.

At the end of 2016, researchers from John Hopkins University published a paper identifying a bacterial link between the two diseases, and other studies have found similar results with other pathogens.

These bacteria may cause a process that triggers the immune system to fight bacteria that aren’t actually there. This may start a process that leads to the inflammation focused around the joints that characterizes rheumatoid arthritis.

Periodontal Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Terrance Griffin, DMD, the chairman of the Department of Periodontology at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in Boston, said “The connection is confusing. There are so many factors that can come into play, like oral hygiene. RA can cause you to lose some dexterity, which may mean you can’t clean your teeth as well.”

The great thing about all of this is that treating one disease can help improve the other. At Case Western University, researchers found that successfully treating gum disease in patients with severe rheumatoid arthritis reduced the severity of arthritis symptoms. People who were treated for both conditions did exceptionally well.

Periodontal Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis Man Smiling
Periodontal Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis Woman Smiling

Periodontal Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis: Conclusion

While we don’t know for certain what the connection between the two diseases is, we do know that they are related, and that gives us power. If you have mild rheumatoid arthritis or a family history of Rheumatoid arthritis, come visit Dr. Brian Edwards, DDS in Newhall, California. You may have periodontitis or may be developing some of the bacteria, and our skilled dentist may be able to help with both conditions.