Rheumatoid Arthritis and Gum Disease

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease of the joints. RA occurs when the body’s immune system, which protects us from infection, mistakenly attacks the thin membrane that lines the joints. This can result in joint damage, pain, inflammation, loss of function and disability.

Researchers have looked at the link between periodontal disease and RA. In the past it was believed that the loss of manual dexterity resulted in poor dental health in people suffering from RA. A recent study has found that when periodontal problems are treated and the infection and inflammation were eliminated, participants saw a reduction in the level of arthritis pain, swollen joints and degree of morning stiffness.

Interestingly enough, periodontal disease is also an inflammatory disease. Is it possible that treating one inflammatory disease (periodontal disease) could impact the symptoms in another inflammatory disease (rheumatoid arthritis)? Studies point to that; however more research needs to be done on both diseases before a true causal link is found.

In the meantime the Massachusetts Dental Society recommends those suffering with RA adopt good oral health habits. After all, healthy gums may be the best natural pain reliever of all.

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