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Dental Hygiene & Rheumatoid Arthritis – the link

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According to new research, people suffering from gum diseases could be at an increased risk of suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. While it has been understood for quite some time that there is an association between periodontal disease and rheumatoid arthritis, both of which are chronic inflammatory conditions, the microbiological mechanisms had previously been unclear.

But recently, an international team lead by the University of Louisville in the US have published new research in the scientific journal PLOS Pathogens showing how the bacterium responsible for periodontal disease – Porphyromonas gingivalis, or P. gingivalis – worsens the impact of the painful joint condition.

Periodontal disease & rheumatoid arthritis

It is now common knowledge that P. gingivalis produces an enzyme called peptidylarginine deiminanse (PAD), which changes residues of certain proteins into citrulline. The body recognises the citrullinated proteins as intruders, leading to an immune attack.

This results in rheumatoid arthritis affecting gum disease patients earlier, with the disease progressing faster and with greater severity, causing increased bone and cartilage destruction.

According to Jan Potempa, a researcher at the University of Louisville School of Dentistry, Oral Health and Systemic Diseases, “… our results suggest that bacterial PAD may constitute the mechanistic link between P. gingivalis periodontal infection and rheumatoid arthritis, but this groundbreaking conclusion will need to be verified with further research.”

The way forward

While previous studies have indicated that people with periodontal disease have an increased prevalence of rheumatoid arthritis, it has been found that gum issues are at least two times more prevalent in sufferers of the joint condition.

Dr Potempa and his team also studied another oral bacterium, Prevotella intermedia for the same effect, but learned it did not produce PAD or the subsequent effects. Dr Potempa is hopeful these findings will shed new light on the treatment and prevention of rheumatoid arthritis.

Other research has also shown that a P. gingivalis infection in the mouth will precede rheumatoid arthritis and the bacterium is the likely culprit for onset and continuation of the autoimmune inflammatory responses that occur in the disease.

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This web site is run by an Arthritis Specialist based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. On this site you will find news about the latest in arthritis, information about research results in the field, tips and information and diet and exercise, and much more.

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