Is there a link between rheumatoid arthritis and periodontitis, or gum disease? Arthritis commonly affects the joints, causing them to feel stiff and swollen. On the other hand, gum disease causes swelling and painful gums, which eventually affect the tooth root’s integrity.
Many Gainsborough dental practices are dedicated to preventing the onset of periodontitis in patients. After all, gum disease does more than just cause the gums to feel inflamed — it may lead to total tooth loss, which will require implants or dentures to correct.
Many dentists in the past have observed that patients with periodontitis also suffer from arthritis. A lot of them suspect that the two are correlated, and recent research confirms these theories.
Periodontal Studies Proving Correlation
A team of scientists took it upon themselves to see if rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is truly behind the increased risk of periodontitis in patients. One study, which was presented at the 2012 European Congress of Rheumatology in Germany, studied over 600 patients to survey their dental health.
It was shown that a good number of them were missing teeth. In fact, about 24.2 percent had less than 10 teeth.
In another study published in the Journal of Periodontology, German researchers studied 57 patients with arthritis and 52 control patients who were healthy. They studied their habits, including smoking, alcohol consumption and their weight to see if there were other factors present that could affect the outcome.
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After completing the study and analysing the data, they found that people with rheumatoid arthritis are up to eight times more at risk of getting periodontitis than people who did not have it.
But why is this so? For one thing, the researchers noted that arthritis and gum disease are both a type of systemic inflammation. According to Dr Kenneth Kornman, the editor of the Journal of Periodontology, systemic inflammatory disorders may be connected, making the patient more susceptible to getting periodontitis if they already have arthritis.
It is possible that arthritis makes it more difficult for people to fend off the bacteria that cause gum disease. People with arthritis should be especially thorough with their dental routine to prevent the onset of gum disease.