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  • Writer's pictureBarbara McClatchie, DDS

The Connection Between Rheumatoid Arthritis and Oral Health

May is National Arthritis Awareness Month. This chronic condition affects approximately one in four adults. Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting more than 1.3 million people in the United States.

What is rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that primarily affects the joints. It affects the lining of the joints, causing painful swelling and in later stages bone erosion and joint deformity. It may even cause issues in other areas, such as the nerves, blood, eyes, skin, heart, and lungs.

How is a dental wellness plan linked to rheumatoid arthritis?

Why would a dental office be talking about arthritis? As a complete health dental office, we know that the mouth is the gateway to the body. Gum disease is a chronic inflammatory disease that damages the gums and bone in your mouth, and is caused by pathogenic oral bacteria. These pathogenic bacteria are released into the bloodstream and cause havoc throughout your body.

These pathogens and inflammatory processes have been linked to the progression of rheumatoid arthritis. In fact, this pathogenic bacteria has been found in the joint fluid of those with rheumatoid arthritis. Saliva testing can be an informative first step in finding the root cause of rheumatoid arthritis.

Oral pathogens and rheumatoid arthritis

These high-risk oral bacteria may be present asymptomatically; however, once bacteria reach high enough levels, symptoms may start to appear. The most common symptoms of gum disease include:

  • Bad breath

  • Bad taste in your mouth

  • Gums that bleed easily (brushing, flossing, chewing, etc.)

  • Gums that are swollen or hurt

  • Red, puffy, and/or shiny gums

  • Loose teeth

The pathogens that have been associated with rheumatoid arthritis are Aggregatibacter

Actinomycetemcomitans (Aa) and Porphyromonas gingivalis (Pg). These high risk bacteria have also been linked to the development of heart attack stroke, cancer, and dementia to name a few.

Saliva testing is one of the few objective tests available in dentistry that tests for high-risk oral bacteria that is associated with rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, cancers, Alzheimer's disease, and other medical conditions. This simple 30 second, non-invasive test is available to you through our office.

"I suggest anyone who has rheumatoid arthritis to think about your mouth as the gateway to your health, because it is... Since I walked into this office it has been nothing but great."

-Mr. Tracy Thorpe (Patient)

With a strong focus on prevention and elimination of disease, we work with you to achieve optimal oral and systemic health, so you can be more proactive today for a healthier tomorrow. If you or someone you know is experiencing rheumatoid arthritis, we encourage you to contact us for a simple saliva test to learn more.

To learn more about how your oral health affects your whole body health, or to get a saliva test, contact us today for an appointment.


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