Gum disease & Arthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis is an auto-immune disease where the body mistakenly attacks the cells that line the joints causing swollen joints and difficulty in moving them.
Gum disease is a chronic inflammatory disease which affects the mouth, causing loss of bone and supporting gums and ultimately the loss of teeth.
The relationship between gum disease and arthritis
The relationship between gum disease and arthritis has been suspected for many years, indeed Hypocrites himself suggested that removing teeth may be a cure for arthritis. Whilst his assumptions may not have had much scientific basis, the scientific evidence is now mounting into the complex relationship between gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
We are still not sure exactly what the cause and effect relationship of these two diseases is, with the links between them complex involving many factors including genetics. There have been many studies carried out into the relationship between the two disease with studies showing periodontal disease to be worse in people with rheumatoid arthritis and also an improvement in rheumatoid arthritis in those who had treatment for their periodontal decease.
Early markers of Rheumatoid Arthritis
The link between gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis has possibly become further reinforced by the discovery of antibodies to citrullinated peptides which were identified as one of the early markers of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Citrullinated peptides are essentially proteins which have undergone a change a molecular level, which are then identified by the body as a foreign body and attacked. One of the bacteria associated with gum disease was identified as being able to induce citrullination and thereby could be a vital piece of the jigsaw.
If as we suspect oral bacteria are involved in the development or progression of rheumatoid arthritis, or inflammation in the mouth somehow fuels inflammation in the joints, prevention and treatment of periodontitis (gum disease) may help reduce the risk of getting the disease or improve the symptoms and progression of the disease in those with it.
We are members of the BSP (British Society of Periodontology) which is the UK’s leading authority on gum disease and is at the forefront of advancing research and knowledge into gum disease. This gives us access to the latest publications, treatment guidelines and research to ensure we are treating our patients to the highest standards.
How we can help you
Our periodontal (gum) team has many years of experience in helping patients just like yourself. You don’t have to be a registered patient with us to see our periodontal team, in fact many patients come to us either as a self referral or on referral from their own dentist.
What can I do myself?
Good oral hygiene is the key to maintaining healthy gums, which starts with what you do at home and more specifically your oral hygiene (cleaning) routine. The plaque and bacteria that cause gum disease are soft and sticky and are easily removed with a toothbrush. Once the plaque has hardened its is called tartar or calculus and is nearly impossible to remove yourself.
Tooth brushing technique is one of the most important things, yet it always amazes us that very few people have ever been shown how to effectively brush their teeth. You can have the fanciest toothbrush in the world, but if you don’t know how to use if properly it will never work as effectively as it should! Letting us show you how to effectively clean your teeth will help prevent future problems and will also save you money in the longer term, as you will need to see us less.
It is important to remember that 30-40% of the gum and tooth surface is between your teeth, so if you are not using anything to clean in between your teeth such as interdental brushes or floss/tape you are missing up to 40% of the mouth.
How do I book an appointment?
- Register as a patient for your regular dental care. (Contact us)
- See one of our hygiene team for an initial assessment (with direct access and our ‘Simply Dental Care’ programme you do not need to see a dentist to see a dental hygienist or dental therapist More details and prices can be found by clicking here.(Click here to see our Fee guide)
- If you have your own dentist, chat to them first, they may be able to refer you to see a hygienist at your own practice. If you have already seen a dental hygienist at your own practice and your gum disease is not improving your dentist can refer you to see us for more specialist help by clicking here. (Referrals)