GUM DISEASE AND RA
For over a century, doctors have known that oral health and your overall physical health are directly
related. As we’ve mentioned in previous blogs, there is scientific proof that gum disease is known to cause
other more serious diseases in the body. For decades doctors have known that gum infections are the
source of many inflammatory diseases like appendicitis and rheumatoid arthritis.
A Little History on RA
Rheumatoid Arthritis happens when your immune system malfunctions and attacks your cells, making
joints stiff and painful. Back in the day, the treatment was to pull all the patient’s teeth hoping to remove
the infection. For obvious reasons, patients weren’t thrilled with this option, plus it didn’t solve the
problem since the infection was in the gums, not the teeth, so by the early1930s this was pretty much
discredited as a treatment for gum disease.
It is generally believed that the bacteria that live on and in the human body are mostly useful and
protective – helping with digestion and protecting against pathogens and swelling. However, there are
some harmful bacteria living in our mouths as well. There are complex connections between the immune
system and bacteria in the mouth, lungs and intestinal tract. These connections led to further research on
the link between rheumatoid arthritis and gum disease.
Recent Discovery Links Gum Disease and RA
Researchers recently discovered that a specific bug or bacteria in gum infections are the same ones that
cause RA. This bug in turn triggers the production of certain proteins, which are suspected of activating
problems in the immune system – leading directly to RA. The researchers also found that bone erosion and
tissue damage in both diseases are caused by similar inflammatory processes. This adds to the data already
showing that rheumatoid arthritis is linked to gum health.
These latest findings will have important implications in determining the root cause of RA, as well as
hopefully preventing and treating it in the future. Technological advancements in both dentistry and
medicine offer hope for people with RA and other inflammatory diseases. Staying educated about the
advancements and treatments available to you is the key to helping treat and control your RA. Take
advantage of all of the on-line educational resources about RA and keep in contact with your doctor for
new treatments or ways to control your symptoms.
What Can You Do Today?
Getting regular dental cleanings and treatment can help avoid the germ that causes RA. If you have RA,
take care of your teeth since cleanings and treating gum disease reducing the inflammation and infection in
your mouth can also reduce joint swelling. Set up regular dental exams, eat a healthy diet, be sure to brush
and floss daily. If your RA causes stiff, painful hands or jaws, making taking care of your teeth difficult,
speak to your dentist or occupational therapist about ways to make it easier to take care of your teeth,
including the use of special assistive devices.
It’s also important to work with your doctor to get and keep your arthritis under control. Doing so could
potentially save both your joints and your teeth. Healthy gums can help you achieve a healthier body
overall and live more comfortably with your RA.
Remember: Healthy Mouth. Healthy Smile. Healthy Body.
Your health matters to us. If you have any questions concerning this post, call us at (248) 357-3100 today.
We’re always happy to hear from our awesome patients!
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or
treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding
medical conditions or gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis.