A study – conducted by the University of Louisville’s School of Dentistry and an international group of scientists from the European Union’s Gums and Joints project – says a link between oral health and rheumatoid arthritis has been discovered – or in their words – that “porphyromonas gingivalis bacterium heightens the progression of rheumatoid arthritis.”
Scientists discovered that P. gingivalis is responsible for an enzyme – peptidylarginine deiminanse – or PAD – which encourages a specific collagen-induced type of arthritis which has similarities with rheumatoid arthritis. PAD converts some proteins into citrulline – which the body reads as intruders – causing an immune attack.
For patients suffering with rheumatoid arthritis this causes chronic inflammation which in turn causes the destruction of the cartilage and bone within the joints. Because of this, reasearchers cite a connection between periodontal disease and poor dental hygiene and an increase in the affects of rheumatoid arthritis.
Although the link may seem apparent it will need to be confirmed by further research, according to Jan Potempa, a researcher and study collaborator from the University of Louisville School of Dentistry, Oral Health and Systemic Diseases. However, this could hopefully lead to better treatment and prevention of rheumatoid arthritis – a development that could relieve the need for orthopedic surgery for some patients.
Prior to this study, other research projects have also found a link between oral health and rheumatoid arthritis. Several found that the condition is more prevalent among those who have gum disease. This study also joins an increasingly large body of evidence that supports the link between oral health and other systemic illnesses.
Periodontal Disease And Heart Health
Several recent studies have also suggested that brushing your teeth is a cheap and powerful weapon against heart attacks, strokes, and other heart disease conditions, according to WebMD. “There are a lot of studies that suggest that oral health – and gum disease in particular – are related to serious conditions like heart disease,” says Sally Cram, DDS and spokeswoman for the American Dental Association.
And although the evidence isn’t clear yet that brushing and flossing prevents heart disease, it is intriguing according to experts who claim people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to have coronary artery disease. One study even found that the presence of common mouth problems – gum disease, cavities, missing teeth – were as good at predicting heart disease as cholesterol levels are.
Gum Disease Overview
Gingivitis, also generally called gum disease or periodontal disease, begins with bacterial growth in your mouth and may end – if not properly treated – with tooth loss due to destruction of the tissue that surrounds your teeth. While plaque is the primary cause of gum disease, other factors can contribute to periodontal disease including hormonal changes, illnesses, medications, bad habits, poor oral hygiene habits and a family history of dental disease.
The symptoms of gum disease include gums that bleed during and after tooth brushing; red, swollen or tender gums; persistent bad breath or bad taste in the mouth; receding gums; formation of deep pockets between teeth and gums; loose or shifting teeth; and changes in the way teeth fit together upon biting down or in the fit of partial dentures.