Rheumatoid Arthritis and Periodontal Disease

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease affecting the body’s joints. The disease is characterised by painful inflammation and deformed joints. The disease might also cause damage in other parts of the body, like salivary glands, nerve tissue, skin and blood vessels. Rheumatoid arthritis, like periodontal disease, is a chronic inflammatory condition with similarities in terms of mechanisms.

Dental professionals
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There is conflicting evidence regarding a bi-directional link between these diseases, but some research suggests that the systemic inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis patients might increase the development of periodontal disease. We know that one type of oral bacteria, Porphyromonas gingivalis, present in periodontal pockets, has the capacity to develop certain proteins which may contribute to harmful autoantigens that drive this disease.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a complex disease and medications taken by these patients may also affect periodontitis.

There are conflicting results whether periodontal treatment can reduce the rheumatoid arthritis disease activity or not and vice versa.

Periodontal treatment and good oral hygiene are a benefit for all patients since it reduces the preventable burden of the systemic inflammation associated with periodontal disease.

Cosgarea et al. 2018, Cheng et al. 2017, Tang et al. 2017