If you or any member of your family have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis; or if you know someone who suffers from this disease; or if you have family history of it, then the topic of this article may be of interest to you. Today’s topic is how gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis may be linked. Come on, let’s talk briefly about a few things I learned recently.
Researchers from University of Louisville’s School of Dentistry in Kentucky have found a link connecting the bacterium that causes gum disease and periodontal disease and the earlier onset of rheumatoid arthritis. They feel this connection can cause the disease to progress more rapidly as well as become more severe in nature. If you know anyone who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, then you know how much discomfort they experience.
The Disease Process
It seems that the gum causing bacterium spawns an enzyme that appears to react with the residue of some proteins. When this happens, the body looks at the reaction between the bacterium and the proteins and sees an intruder. This initiates an immune attack response that results in chronic inflammation in the body. This chronic inflammation can eventually cause bone and cartilage inside the joints to be destroyed. The offending bacterium is called Porphyromonas gingivalis and the unique enzyme that is produced is called peptidylarginine deiminanse (PAD). Dr. Jan Potempa from the University of Louisville School of Dentistry Oral Health and Systemic Diseases said: “Taken together, our results suggest that bacterial PAD may constitute the mechanistic link between P. gingivalis periodontal infection and rheumatoid arthritis, but this ground-breaking conclusion will need to be verified with further research.”
What This Means To You
While the pain, disfigurement and disabilities associated with advancing rheumatoid arthritis can be significant to both the patient as well as those who love them, there is some hope. For those of you who know and love a sufferer of rheumatoid arthritis or if you have family history of the disease, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself and your family. Regular brushing and flossing and regular dental checkups are being touted as going a long way toward helping to prevent the onset of the disease and can help to keep it under better control when it does present. Your Long Island Periodontist can identify and treat gum and periodontal disease in any member of your family. Contact us to schedule an appointment for treatment today!