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To Avoid Arthritis Brush Your Teeth

January 6, 2017

Want to avoid arthritis? Then brush your teeth!

Have you added dental health to your 2017 New Year resolutions? If you need an extra reason for adding it to your to-do list, here is a good one, backed by new scientific research from Johns Hopkins University.

Brushing your teeth could prevent arthritis. Bugs known to cause gum infections also trigger the crippling condition that blights the lives of many around the world. Experts say the findings add to the evidence that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is linked to dental hygiene, a long-suspected theory.

  • The Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center conducted a study to determine the presence of gum disease in patients who have Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).
  • Oral health exams were performed on patients who have RA and healthy volunteers for comparison. Data was collected from 100 RA patients and 40 healthy volunteers.
  • 70% of the RA patients have gum disease with 30% having severe gum disease, while the population norm for gum disease is 35% with 5% having severe gum disease.
  • Severe gum disease can be present in the early stages of RA.
  • For best care with RA and oral health, patients should get complete oral health exams regularly and work with both their dentist and treating rheumatologist.

How is arthritis connected to brushing your teeth?

An infection with A. actinomycetemcomitans – known to cause gum disease – sparks the production of proteins that cause the immune system to falter. Citrullination – which regulates the production of proteins – is known to happen naturally in humans. But in people with RA, the process becomes overactive and leads to inflammation and damaged tissue, researchers from Johns Hopkins University found. However, in the new findings, they discovered this was also apparent in samples of patients with gum disease. But the researchers warned that more than half of the participants who had RA had not been infected. They say this may indicate other bacteria in the gut, lung or elsewhere could be responsible for the joint pain.

Professor Felipe Andrade, of Johns Hopkins University, said: ‘This is like putting together the last few pieces of a complicated jigsaw puzzle that has been worked on for many years. ‘If we know more about the evolution of both combined, perhaps we could prevent rather than just intervene.’ The new findings, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, have important implications for prevention and treatment of RA. The condition is caused when the immune system malfunctions and attacks cells, making joints stiff and painful. Study leader Dr Maximilian Konig, now at Massachusetts General Hospital, said: ‘This research may be the closest we have come to uncovering the root cause of RA.’