For those who have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), managing a thorough oral hygiene routine at home can be challenging. But, for RA patients, it’s especially important. Research has found that RA sufferers are more likely to have periodontal (gum) disease, which is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.
Symptoms of periodontal disease include gums that bleed easily when brushing, sore or receded gums, persistent bad breath, swollen pockets that form at the base of teeth and gums that deepen in color.
Poor oral hygiene is the most common cause of periodontal (gum) disease. However, researchers suspect that inadequate oral hygiene is not the only reason for higher rates of gum disease for RA sufferers, eight times greater. Although insufficient oral hygiene is deemed the chief culprit in gum disease, research is finding deeper roots when it comes to gum disease and arthritis.
Both gum disease and arthritis are inflammatory diseases. Chronic inflammation tends to trigger chronic inflammation on a wider scale. A correlation between gum disease and diabetes has already been tapped even though research has yet to pinpoint the precise link between the two. However, findings consistently show that periodontal disease doesn’t necessarily occur as a result of arthritis as many assume. Like the chicken and the egg, studies are showing that the reverse could actually be the case.
The arthritis and gum disease connection is most revealed in close examination of affected joint tissues and compared to tissues of the mouth. Oral tissues that show the presence of periodontal disease show a number of similarities to tissues in arthritic joints.
Does oral inflammation cause joint inflammation? Or, could the inflammation of arthritic joints contribute to the development of oral tissue inflammation? Researchers have stated there is no sound proof that one triggers the other. One study, however, has shown that effective treatment for gum disease can aid in preventing or managing RA.
All participants in the study had RA as well as gum disease. The group was given treatment for RA symptoms and a selected number in the group received gum disease treatment. For those who underwent treatment for gum disease, the RA patients showed markedly higher improvement in symptoms of RA than those who underwent RA treatment without periodontal therapy.
While more research is needed to definitively determine if treating gum disease will improve or prevent rheumatoid arthritis, these individuals are urged to take special measures to maintain good oral health. In addition to thorough home care routines, regular cleanings and check-ups are necessary. Our Hygienists can help you with techniques for oral hygiene at home if you experience discomfort or have limitations with dexterity. Also, electronic flossers and tooth brushes may make your daily regimen easier..
Begin with a healthy mouth! Call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles to begin or to request a free consultation.