Potential Link found between Gum Disease and Inflammatory Conditions
A team of US researchers from the School of Dentistry at the University of Louisville, Kentucky, have found a link between rheumatoid arthritis and gum disease, suggesting that maintaining good oral hygiene can reduce the risk of developing the disease.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition which causes swelling in the joints, particularly those in the hands, feet and wrists. Researchers believe the link between the two is a bacterium that causes gum disease; they believe this link can also help determine when rheumatoid arthritis will develop and how serious it will be.
The study found that when gum disease develops it produces a particular enzyme known as peptidylarginine deiminanse (PAD); this enzyme could contribute to the development of collagen-induced arthritis — a condition very similar to rheumatoid arthritis. Under the influence of PAD, proteins in the human body are changed into a different type, known as citrulline, which is recognised by the body as an intruder. This results in chronic inflammation in people who either have, or are prone to having, autoimmune conditions, scientists explain.
Earlier studies have also suggested a relation between oral health and rheumatoid arthritis, with the condition found more commonly among people who have problems with receding, infected or bleeding gums.
Lead researcher Jan Potempa explained that other bacteria found in the human mouth were also examined but none of them showed any correlation to rheumatoid arthritis. He stated that further research into the matter would be beneficial to finding out more about the condition and its potential treatment.