Results of a new study show a strong link between rheumatoid arthritis and periodontal disease. Over 56 percent of patients with rheumatoid arthritis show signs of inflammatory gum disease, bone loss that hold teeth in place, dental plaque, and fewer teeth.
Additionally, rheumatoid arthritis seems to be worse in patients with periodontal disease, making it important to recognize the link. The study, presented at EULAR 2009, the Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism in Copenhagen, Denmark, revealed that among 25 patients receiving anti-TNF drugs to treat rheumatoid arthritis, 20 patients also showed improvement in periodontal disease.
Lead researcher Dr Codrina Ancuta of the Grigore T Popa University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Rehabilitation Hospital, Iasi, Romania suggests a holistic approach for patients with rheumatoid arthritis that addresses systemic inflammation, also responsible for other diseases. “There is a growing body of evidence to demonstrate an association between periodontal disease and systemic conditions involving inflammatory rheumatic disease (especially RA), cardiovascular disease and diabetes”, says Dr. Ancuta.
A second study, presented at EULAR suggests that the mere presence of periodontal disease can increase individual risk of rheumatoid arthritis, in addition to making it worse. Blood testing revealed higher levels of ACPA (an antibody test) and rheumatoid factor (RF) in individuals with moderate to severe periodontal disease.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that inflames the joints, and causes damage. The new study showing the link between rheumatoid arthritis and periodontal disease may lead to improvements in the treatment and management of the disease, using a more holistic approach that combines therapies.