Study: Poor oral health linked to rheumatoid arthritis

Study: Poor oral health linked to rheumatoid arthritis

A great smile isn’t just pleasant to look at. According to a study, having healthy teeth and gums may be key to reducing your risk of developing autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Details of the study were published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Bad bacteria in unclean mouths can enter bloodstream and joints

Scientists who conducted the study found that advanced gum disease, also called periodontal disease, “results in repeated breaches of the oral mucosa that release … oral bacteria into circulation, which activate inflammatory [molecular compounds] that are observed in inflamed RA synovia and blood of RA patients.”

This means that after examining the data, the research team discovered that gum disease damages oral tissue. In turn, this allows bacteria to seep into the bloodstream.

After entering the bloodstream, oral bacteria trigger an immune response and can end up inside the joint tissues of individuals with RA.

The study’s co-authors described in detail what they think happens in the mouths of people with gum disease:

  1. Inflammation of the facial bones, teeth and gums prompts the immune system to “decorate” bacteria in the mouth with a molecular tag.
  2. These tagged bacteria are now able to breach the damaged mucous membrane lining of the mouth. The bacteria then seep into the bloodstream.
  3. As your immune system senses foreign invaders, it creates antibodies against the tagged bacteria. The antibodies will bind to or trap the bacteria, and this forms molecular globs called “immune complexes.”
  4. Immune complexes can continue to travel throughout the body and deposit in various tissues, like your joints and joint lining or synovium.

According to scientists, the impact of oral bacteria getting into the blood may get worse with repeated exposure. It can also result in a heightened autoimmune response and worsening rheumatoid arthritis symptoms such as joint pain, stiffness and swelling.

Fortunately, you can boost your oral health and reduce RA risk by avoiding processed foods and brushing your teeth regularly. Flossing and oil pulling can also help promote healthy gums and teeth.

The study also supports earlier research conducted on the connection between gum disease, oral health and autoimmune conditions.

In 2015, scientists from the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center collected data from 100 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and 40 healthy controls.

After examining the data, the experts reported that 70 percent of RA patients had gum disease and 30 percent of the RA patients had severe gum disease. This is significantly higher compared to the healthy norm group, where only 35 percent had gum disease and five percent had severe gum disease.

The researchers warned that severe gum disease can be present in the early stages of RA. They advised that dentists and rheumatology specialists are “essential providers” for those with autoimmune conditions.

Bad oral health is also linked to other health issues

There are more reasons to maintain proper oral health. According to health experts, poor oral hygiene is also linked to other health issues such as:

  • Cardiovascular disease, along with health problems like stroke and hardening of the arteries
  • Complications during pregnancy and birth, such as premature delivery and low birth weight
  • Endocarditis, or inflammation of the inner lining of the heart
  • Pneumonia

Large studies have also found a connection between tooth decay and poor oral health and other health issues like dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.

These studies show that keeping your gums and teeth healthy does more than keep your breath fresh: It can also help protect you against problems like rheumatoid arthritis.

How to keep your gums and teeth healthy

Follow the tips below to keep your gums and pearly whites healthy:

Brush twice a day

Make sure you brush your teeth at least twice a day, after every meal. Brushing helps remove the food and plaque that gets stuck between your teeth and gums.

You should also brush and scrub your tongue since it can harbor bacteria. Get a toothbrush with soft bristles that fit in your mouth comfortably.

Try using a battery-powered or electric toothbrush since these can help reduce gingivitis and plaque more than manual brushing. Replace your toothbrush or toothbrush head every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles have already started to fray.

Floss regularly

According to data from Spotlight Oral Care, an oral healthcare company, 58 percent of people don’t floss at all and only 47 percent floss weekly.

Data also revealed that a whopping 73 percent of the 1,700 patients surveyed said flosses, picks and other tools are difficult to maneuver. Meanwhile, 92 percent of the participants said that they would floss more if it was easier.

Flossing can be a little annoying, but try to floss at least once a day to get rid of the plaque and food that your toothbrush can’t reach. If you’re in a rush to go to work in the morning, you can floss at night.

Quit smoking

Smoking isn’t just bad for your overall health, it can also affect your oral health and is linked to the onset of gum disease.

Smoking weakens your immune system, and this also makes it harder to prevent gum infection. Additionally, smoking makes it more difficult for your gums to heal from damage. Quit smoking if you want to improve your oral health and avoid the health issues linked to this harmful habit.

Watch the video below to learn how colloidal silver can help support optimal oral health.

(Article by Zoey Sky republished from

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