Dental treatment could help soothe the chronic aches and pains of rheumatoid arthritis, according to new studies.
The UK’s leading oral health charity has reminded the public of the importance of dental visits after research published in the Journal of Periodontology* added further weight to the body of evidence on systemic links between oral and overall health.
News of studies linking treatment for gum disease with easing of symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis backs the message of British Dental Health Foundation’s annual National Smile Month campaign (May 17th to June 16th), encouraging the nation to ‘Look After Yourself, Brush for Health’.
Research by the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine and University Hospitals of Cleveland supports existing reports linking gum disease with arthritic pain and inflammation.
Scientists monitored 40 people with moderate or severe periodontitis and severe rheumatoid arthritis to study the impact of treatments on arthritic pain, which is known to be linked to and inflamed by toxins in the body.
Groups treated with anti-inflammatory drugs or receiving gum disease reported easing of arthritic symptoms. Dental treatment combined with a course of anti-inflammatories yielded the strongest results.
Foundation chief executive Dr Nigel Carter BDS LDS (RCS) commented: “This research supports existing evidence which found that extracting painful teeth had a positive impact on arthritic pain.
“Visiting the dentist is an important part of our overall health routine – especially as research potentially links gum disease to not only arthritis, but heart disease, strokes, diabetes and premature births.
“Though 19 in 20 of us suffer from gum disease at some point in our lives, the risks can be easily controlled with a good dental routine.
“Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, cleaning between teeth daily with floss or an interdental brush and visiting the dentist regularly, as often as they recommend, will all help you to look after yourself.”
Rheumatoid arthritis is an incurable disease affecting mainly the small joints such as hands and feet, and affects around half a million people in the UK.
The disease can cause pain and a loss of mobility, and affects three times more men than women.
Chair of the Department of Periodontics at the Case Western University dental school Nabil Bissada DDS said: “Again we are seeing another link where good oral health improves the overall health of an individual.”
* Bissada, N., Askari, A. et al; ‘Periodontal Therapy Reduces the Severity of Active Rheumatoid Arthritis in Patients Treated with or Without Tumor Necrosis Factor Inhibitors’, Journal of Periodontolgy 2009.
For further information please contact the Foundation’s Press Office on 0870 770 4014 or by firstname.lastname@example.org
Websites: www.dentalhealth.org / www.nationalsmilemonth.org
Members of the public can contact the National Dental Helpline for free and impartial expert advice on 0845 063 1188 Monday to Friday.
The British Dental Health Foundation is an independent charity formed in 1971 that along with its global arm, the International Dental Health Foundation, is dedicated to improving oral health
The Foundation promotes three key messages:
- Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
- Cut down how often you have sugary foods and drinks
- Visit the dentist regularly, as often as they recommend
NATIONAL SMILE MONTH 2009 – MAY 17 TO JUNE 16
Looking at systemic links between oral health and overall health. Pre-2009 research:
- December 2008 – Italian/UK study in FASEB Journal reveals good oral healthcare and treatment for gum disease can prevent the bacteria that cause thickening of the arteries. (Piconi, Trabattoni et al, FASEB Journal Dec 08)
- September 2008 – scientists present the Society of General Microbiology’s autumn meeting with two new studies linking between gum disease and heart disease.
- A University of Bristol-led presentation shows how the 700 million oral bacteria present a clear risk, with harmful bacteria bonding to protect against the immune system or antibiotics, and increasing chances of heart disease even in the case of fit healthy people (Jenkinson, Kerrigan et al – Uni Bristol/RCS Dublin Sep 08)
- A study presented by University of Otago’s Professor Greg Seymour finds that oral bacteria causes atherosclerosis, or ‘furring’ of the arteries, as oral bacteria’s similarity to proteins which cause arteries to fur confuses the immune system.
- Jan 2006 – PERICAR trial, a collaboration between Australia’s Sydney Dental Hospital and Royal North Shore Hospital and Norway’s University of Oslo. Strong evidence that treating gum disease can reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Inflammation in the mouth has a measurable effect in the bloodstream and the rest of the body. Once the gum infection was eradicated the risk of heart attacks and future blood clots were reduced. (Taylor, Tofler et al; Journal of Dental Research, January 2006)
- November 2008 – Columbia University (USA) publishes evidence of links from periodontal disease to type 2 diabetes. Of 9,000 participants in the study 800 developed diabetes. Those with high levels of periodontal disease were twice as likely to develop diabetes. (Demmer, Desvarieux et al, Diabetes Care)
- July 2007 – The Department of Periodontology at the University of Copenhagen (Denmark) finds link between gum disease and pre-diabetes, often a precursor to type-2 diabetes. Dr. Carla Pontes Andersen said: “The gum inflammation seen in periodontitis can allow bacteria and inflammatory substances from the dental structures to enter the bloodstream. These processes seem to affect blood sugar control.” (Pontes Anderson, Flyybjerg et al; Journal of Periodontology)
- December 2008 – researchers in Finland question 328 women on oral health and pregnancy, those who needed urgent dental treatment, suggesting poor oral health, were 2.5 times more likely to miscarry. (Heimonen et al, Blackwell Publishing)
- July 2007 – Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Chile finds link between gum disease and premature births. One in three women at risk of premature labour presented with gum disease bacteria in their amniotic fluid, as well as their mouth.
- Amniotic fluid surrounds an unborn baby. Scientists believe that any disruption to this fluid could pose a danger to both mother and baby, especially as hormone changes in pregnant women expose a greater risk of gum disease. (Leon, Silva et al; Journal of Periodontology)
June 2006 – University of California scientists found that gum disease may contribute to clogged carotid arteries leading to an increased risk of a stroke. Blocked carotid arteries were much more common in people who had gum disease. (Chung, Friedlander et al, General Session & Exhibition of the International Association for Dental Research)