Researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine and University Hospitals of Cleveland reported that patients reduced arthritic pain and the number of swollen joints after treating their dental problems.
“It was exciting to find that if we eliminated the infection and inflammation in the gums, then patients with a severe kind of active rheumatoid arthritis reported improvement on the signs and symptoms of that disease.” Stated Dr. Nabil Bissada, chair of the school’s Department of Periodontics.
This study was not the first to link gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatologists and other clinicians have studied the how gum disease may lead to systematic disease. Dr. Ali Askari, chair of the department of rheumatology at University Hospitals, states that historically, arthritic patients felt better when teeth were pulled or received antibiotics used to treat periodontal disease.
Askari and Bissada worked together, studying 40 patients with moderate to severe periodontal disease and severe rheumatoid arthritis. These inflammatory diseases share similarities in the progression of the disease over time. In both diseases, inflammation caused by toxins from bacterial infection destroys hard and soft tissue. One common toxin revealed in the study, called, tumor necrosis factor-alpha , can initiate new infections or aggravate sites where inflammation already exists.
“I’m optimistic that someday the biologic agents that we use successfully in treatment of rheumatoid arthritis will lead to improvement of periodontitis and would be available for use and treatment of this perplexing problem,” stated Askari.
Dr. James Stewart, a Livonia dentist, enjoys educating his patients on relevant dental studies. He believes oral health affects overall health and vice versa. He encourages his patients to follow the American Dental Association’s guidelines for proper oral hygiene: brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, rinsing after meals, and keeping semi-annual dental appointments. If you are a resident of Livonia, Novi, Farmington Hills, or surrounding areas, and you need to schedule a six-month dental appointment, call (734)425-4400.