With approximately 1.5 million Americans living with rheumatoid arthritis, many researchers are focused on finding a cause for this often debilitating illness. A recent study from The Netherlands has examined possible causes of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and early rheumatoid arthritis (ERA) and found a surprising connection between rheumatoid arthritis and oral health.
It seems that in many people with either early rheumatoid arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis there was a heavy presence of the oral bacteria prevotella and veillonella in their saliva and coating their tongues. These bacteria are often present in high numbers in people with periodontal disease.
Prevotella and veillonella are considered inflammatory bacteria, causing inflammation of the gums. These bacteria enter the bloodstream and can travel throughout the body, everywhere from the gums to the heart. Interestingly, rheumatoid arthritis is also caused by inflammation of the joints, and researchers think that inflammation may be connected to the prevotella and veillonella bacteria.
The study followed other studies which have previously revealed that persons with rheumatoid arthritis and early rheumatoid arthritis have higher rates of periodontal disease. Researchers will further examine this link to see if there are ways to prevent RA or ERA by intervening in periodontal health at earlier stages.
So, in the meantime, what can you do if you suffer from ERA or ERA, and/or have periodontal disease, too?
While clearing up your periodontal disease likely won’t cure your rheumatoid arthritis, it may help lessen some of the inflammation and symptoms associated with the illness, and it certainly will benefit your teeth and gums.
Thankfully, treating periodontal disease isn’t complicated. Care begins at home, with excellent brushing and flossing habits, brushing twice a day for two minutes at a time, and flossing at least once per day.
Attending regular dental exams and cleanings is the next piece of the puzzle, but may require special gum care cleanings that go deeper than the usual exam and cleaning. Dr. Mingus and his staff will explain this treatment plan to you in greater detail if it is required.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Mingus, please contact the office today.