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Rheumatoid Arthritis Increases Periodontal Disease Risk

Posted Oct 30 2008 3:16pm

I posted previously about prior studies that have demonstrated a link between rheumatoid arthritis and periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is an inflammatory condition that causes loss of the bone around the teeth and can eventually lead to the loosening and loss of teeth. A new study supports the conclusion that rheumatoid arthritis increases the risk of periodontal disease.

The current study was led by Dr. Clifton O. Bingham III from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. The study involved 153 people who were between the ages of 45 and 84 that had RA for an average of 11 years. 101 of the patients were women.

The participants in this study were already taking part in a cardiovascular study. The researchers were looking for evidence of periodontal disease in these patients.

The study participants were given an oral health questionnaire that assessed their dental histories, oral hygiene practices, mouth dryness, tooth loss and periodontal disease status.

It was observed that 82% of the participants reported symptoms of periodontal disease, including bleeding or swollen gums, or receding gums. It was also observed that the presence of periodontal disease was significantly associated with a patient’s rheumatoid arthritis disease activity score (DAS), and with rheumatoid nodules.

Based on analysis of the histories and observations the researchers concluded that periodontal disease is independently associated with RA disease activity.

“These findings, along with prior studies and our additional preliminary data showing a high prevalence of moderate to severe periodontal disease in RA patients based on comprehensive oral examinations, strongly suggest an association between these two inflammatory diseases. We are now conducting a number of additional studies to better understand the pathobiologic mechanisms that may explain these associations,” said Dr. Bingham.

Dr. Bingham also noted that the treatment of periodontal disease leads to improvement of other conditions, such as diabetes, and may even lower cardiovascular risk. This means that increasing attention to oral health may improve outcomes for patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

The study was presented October 28th at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting in San Francisco, California.

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