man holds his jaw with gum pain from inflammation

The Link Between Periodontitis and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Published January 22, 2024 9:25 pm

Research has uncovered a compelling link between periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease, and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Since both conditions share inflammatory pathways, scientists believe this suggests a potential bidirectional relationship. In other words, the chronic inflammation in periodontitis may contribute to the systemic inflammation seen in RA, thus exacerbating joint symptoms.

How Does Periodontitis Affect RA In the Body?

The connection is believed to lie in the way your immune system responds. In periodontitis, bacteria trigger an immune response that leads to inflammation. Those same inflammatory pathways are inflamed in RA.

Is All Bacteria Responsible?

Specifically, the oral bacteria Porphyromonas gingivalis, prevalent in periodontal disease, has been found to produce enzymes linked to the development of RA. These enzymes can modify proteins in a way that prompts your immune system to attack your joints.

The Bidirectional Relationship

The systemic inflammation from periodontitis might amplify the autoimmune response in RA, worsening joint inflammation and damage. Conversely, if you have RA, you may have an increased susceptibility to periodontitis due to compromised immune regulation.

What Can I Do to Protect Myself?

It’s imperative to maintain good oral hygiene to help mitigate the damage that periodontitis can cause both in your oral health and your joints. Treating existing periodontitis can potentially alleviate RA symptoms or prevent their worsening.

Further, managing RA effectively may reduce the severity of periodontal disease. Remember to collaborate with your dentist and your rheumatoid arthritis physician to make sure you have the tools you need to properly manage your symptoms.

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If you’re seeking a compassionate dentist who takes a conservative approach to your dental care, call Altitude Family Dental today to schedule an appointment. We pride ourselves on getting you the care you need in a soothing, state-of-the-art facility.

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