Periodontal Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis

If you think that dental problems only affect your teeth, think again. More and more research has shown the strong link between oral health and overall systemic wellness, which is why everyone should take their dental hygiene seriously.

As oral bacteria is allowed to continue to build in your mouth, it feeds off of the plaque and tartar on your teeth, producing acids which spark an inflammatory response in the gum tissue, triggering gingivitis and periodontal disease. Eventually, oral bacteria can even leach into the bloodstream, causing system-wide inflammation. For this reason, periodontal disease has been tied to several very serious health problems, including pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cognitive impairment, chronic kidney disease, metabolic syndrome, obesity, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Periodontal Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Evidence has shown that both rheumatoid arthritis and periodontal disease have nearly identical immunological and pathological processes, even producing the same types of antibodies. Each condition causes inflammation of soft tissue, and the genetic composition of the disease is similar.

Evidence has shown a strong link between the propensity for periodontal disease and rheumatoid arthritis. For example, one study showed that the fewer teeth people had, the greater their risk for eventually developing rheumatoid arthritis. Furthermore, the more swollen people’s joints were, the fewer teeth they had. For example, in a study of 366 people, people who had more swollen joints had an average of 26 of their own natural teeth, while people with less swollen joints had 29 of their own teeth left.

Other researchers suspect that rheumatoid arthritis and periodontal disease feed each other, each making the other disease symptoms more severe. For example, since RA affects autoimmune function, the body can’t naturally fight off oral bacteria as easily, contributing to advanced periodontitis.

Talk With Your Doctor Today

Although research regarding the link between periodontal disease and RA is ongoing, one thing is abundantly clear—if you have one, you are more likely to have the other. Talk with your doctor and your Pittsburgh periodontist about your oral and systemic health to understand your risks. By seeking Dr. Silberg’s recommendations for your oral health and making an appointment to talk about Pittsburgh gum disease treatment, you can live a healthier life and worry less about tooth loss. Advanced treatments, such as LANAP or scaling and root planing, have made gum disease treatment easier and more convenient than ever before. Contact us today for an appointment!

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