Periodontists explain the connection between periodontal disease and rheumatoid arthritis
Research indicates that patients with rheumatoid arthritis are nearly eight times more likely to have periodontal disease.
Morganville, N.J. — May is Arthritis Awareness Month, and the New Jersey Society of Periodontists (NJSP) would like patients and caregivers alike to be aware of the link between periodontal disease, a chronic inflammatory disease of the gums, and rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic inflammatory disease of the joints.
“The common denominator here is the inflammatory aspect of both diseases,” explains Dr. Scott Zirkin, president of the NJSP. “Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection that stimulates an inflammatory response, which in turn imposes a burden on a person’s immune system. Over time, sustained inflammation can lead to the destruction of connective tissue and bone tissue. This destruction affects both teeth and joints.”
According to Linda Gruskiewicz, executive director of the New Jersey Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation, “We are very much aware of the existing studies linking periodontal disease to arthritis and believe that arthritis patients can benefit from the collaborative care of a periodontist and a physician.”
Gruskiewicz is referring to a study published a few years ago in the Journal of Periodontology, which found that patients who had both periodontal disease and severe rheumatoid arthritis experienced reduced arthritis pain, a reduced number of swollen joints, and a reduced degree of morning stiffness when their periodontal disease was finally treated and brought under control. “The mouth/body connection is very strong and should not be underestimated by those living with arthritis or their caregivers,” says Zirkin.
“Some arthritis patients may eventually develop periodontal disease because the restricted strength and mobility of their hands prevents them from following proper oral hygiene tasks, such as brushing and flossing,” adds Gruskiewicz. “It’s a constant challenge for patients and caregivers alike.”
To arthritis patients who have difficulty taking care of their oral health, Dr. Zirkin offers the following advice: “The use of power toothbrushes, oral irrigators, dental floss holders, and prescription-only mouth rinses have proven to be extremely helpful for arthritis sufferers with limited manual dexterity. What’s more, regular visits to a periodontist who can provide advanced periodontal treatment can help keep periodontal disease under control, and perhaps minimize some of the symptoms of arthritis as well.”
About the New Jersey Society of Periodontists
The New Jersey Society of Periodontists (NJSP) is an organization of New Jersey dentists who specialize in the art, science, and practice of periodontics, including implants. The group is dedicated to advancing the knowledge base and understanding of periodontal diseases, as well as advancing ideas in treatment techniques in implantology. The NJSP seeks to explore and discuss problems of mutual interest with those in the practice of periodontics and implant dentistry. It supports the public, periodontists, and all dental professionals involved in the oral care of patients of all ages. For more information, please visit www.njperio.org.
About the New Jersey Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation
The Arthritis Foundation is the only national not-for-profit organization that supports research and programs to help the 50 million people in the United States affected by the more than 100 types of arthritis and related conditions. The Arthritis Foundation is the largest private, not-for-profit contributor to arthritis research in the world, funding more than $380 million in research grants since 1948. The Foundation helps people take control of arthritis by providing public health education; pursuing public policy and legislation; and conducting evidence-based programs to improve the quality of life for those living with arthritis. Learn more facts about arthritis and the Arthritis Foundation.