At Stoner Periodontic Specialists in Columbus, Ohio, we are actively involved in educating patients and colleagues of the importance of oral health and the significant links between oral health and the overall health of the body. An issue that is receiving increased attention is the link between Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and periodontitis (gum disease). Specifically, recent studies show that a person with RA is more likely to develop gum disease. In addition, research has shown a person with gum disease has a higher likelihood of developing RA.
Approximately 1.3 million people on the US have Rheumatoid Arthritis, a chronic, autoimmune disease which causes pain, swelling and inflammation of the joints in the body. Periodontitis or gum disease is a chronic, inflammatory disease affecting gum tissue and bone supporting the teeth. According to the CDC, approximately half of all adults in the US have periodontal disease.
Studies of people with RA have shown that chances of developing gum disease increase by as much as 8 times. Why does this link exist? Researchers suggest that the pain and stiffness caused by RA, specifically in a person’s hands, may result in decreased or lower quality brushings and flossing, and ultimately poor oral hygiene. In addition, some RA medications reduce the body’s ability to fight infection. Poor oral hygiene as well as lower infection fighting ability can result in the spread of plaque below the gum line, the primary cause of gum disease.
A recent study also shows that people with gum disease were more than 2 times as likely to develop RA. See CNN Health’s recent article. Although the exact cause of RA is not known, research attributes RA to genes in the body and events that trigger those genes. Research suggests that gum disease may be a trigger. Research shows in both gum disease and RA, similar immune system cells attack the mouth and joints in the respective disorders. In addition, a bacteria that is present in gum disease has been linked to autoimmune responses that are similar to that of RA.
Unfortunately, many people discount the importance of proper brushing, flossing, and dental exams. But, as we are continuing to discover through research the strong connection between oral health and overall well being, it is clear oral health is an issue to be taken seriously. Dr. Daniel Murphy with Stoner Periodontic Specialists says, “We used to treat periodontal disease so we could save teeth. With research showing periodontal disease being linked to diabetes, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and other systemic issues; it’s clear we need to treat periodontal disease for overall patient health.”
At Stoner Periodontic Specialists, we use individualize planning, cutting edge technology, state of the art procedures as well as traditional therapy to provide patients with high quality, minimally invasive and cost effective treatment options. There are various treatment options for gum disease, including non-surgical methods such as laser gum therapy. Please contact one of our three offices with any questions, referrals, or appointment scheduling.