Periodontal Disease Worsens Rheumatoid Arthritis

That’s right, it’s another blog post about how your dental health affects your overall health. And yes, it’s another blog post about how periodontal disease makes more things in your body worse than just your gums and teeth.

Researchers and clinicians have known for a long while that there’s been an association between periodontal disease and rheumatoid arthritis, but they haven’t been able to pinpoint exactly what, if anything, biologically causes it. A new research study has found just how the bacteria responsible for periodontal disease worsens rheumatoid arthritis, thereby confirming that gum disease does affect the chronic inflammatory disease.

The study found that the periodontal disease bacteria leads to earlier onset of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), faster progression, and greater severity of the disease. The bacteria can push RA to the point of increased destruction of both bone and cartilage.

How does it do this?

The bacteria produces an enzyme that enhances collagen-induced arthritis, which is similar to RA. The enzyme also changes the residues of certain proteins, and the body recognizes these changes as invaders, thereby setting off an attack of the immune system. In those who have RA, this attack leads to increased chronic inflammation that breaks down the bone and cartilage at the joints.

Past studies have found that people with gum disease have an increased prevalence of RA. Likewise, periodontal disease is at least two times more prevalent in RA patients, further suggesting that these diseases can go hand-in-hand. Some research has even found that periodontal disease often precedes an RA diagnosis.

Periodontal disease is very serious, and needs to be taken as seriously as heart or lung disease. Periodontal disease is even far easier to prevent than heart or lung disease. All it takes is a few minutes from your morning and evening (brushing teeth), a few more minutes at least once a week (flossing), and regular dental checkups twice a year. If you already have RA, then it’s even more important that you care for your mouth to prevent an onset of periodontal disease, which will, as this study has shown, worsen your arthritis.

(Source: University of Louisville School of Dentistry)

Poor Dental Hygiene Linked to Causing Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer's RibbonThere’s been some discussion that poor oral hygiene correlates (not causes) with signs of dementia, which does make sense as hygiene in general often goes by the wayside as a patient develops dementia. However, a new study has found that healthy people with poor dental hygiene or gum disease could be at a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers from the University of Central Lancashire’s School of medicine and Dentistry studied the donated brains of ten people with dementia and ten people without dementia. In the brains of dementia patients, the team found traces of the bacteria that is commonly associated with gum disease (Porphyromonas gingivalis). The bacteria make their way to the brain via the bloodstream through typical daily activities such as eating and brushing teeth. The researchers have suggested that each time the bacteria reach the brain, they trigger an immune response that kills neurons. They believe that this process could be one way that the brain changes in Alzheimer’s disease and could also be responsible for causing confusion and memory deterioration.

Furthermore, since some people are more genetically disposed toward developing Alzheimer’s disease than others, the research team also believes that gum disease and poor oral hygiene could trigger the onset of the disease.[..Read More]

Bacteria in Gum Disease Attacks the Jaw too

Scientists and dentists alike have known for several years that gum disease is caused by bacteria, but they’ve only just very, very recently been able to pinpoint exactly which type of bacteria is the culprit.

However, this study also discovered another interesting fact about this bacterium (called NI1060); not only does it cause gum disease, it also turns a protective protein in the mouth into a traitor. The protein will actually produce bone-destroying cells that attacks the jawbone. Normally, this protein fights harmful bacteria in the mouth, but not when NI1060 is present.

“Nod1 [the protein] is a part of our protective mechanisms against bacterial infection. It helps us to fight infection by recruiting neutrophils, blood cells that act as bacterial killers,” Naohiro Inohara, research associate professor at the U-M Health System and member of research team, said. “It also removes harmful bacteria during infection. However, in the case of periodontitis, accumulation of NI1060 stimulates Nod1 to trigger neutrophils and osteoclasts, which are cells that destroy bone in the oral cavity.”

William Giannobile, professor of dentistry at the U-M Health System, said, “The findings from this study underscore the connection between beneficial and harmful bacteria that normally reside in the oral cavity, how a harmful bacterium causes the disease, and how an at-risk patient might respond to such bacteria.”

He went on to say that this could lead to more personalized therapy and treatments for patients diagnosed with gum disease.

The more we learn about gum disease, the more serious the disease becomes. It can affect your overall health, heart health, diabetes, and now it seems that the bacteria involved attacks the jawbone as well. These findings make it all the more important to keep your regular, routine dental check-ups and make sure you always voice any concerns, no matter how minor they may seem, to your dentist.

First Periodontitis At-Home Test Developed


Courtesy of dentognostics, developers of Periosafe

Researchers in Finland have developed the first first at-home test for detecting periodontitis. Specifically, the test screens for the presence of an enzyme in your saliva that is responsible for the gum disease. The test is geared for people who are chronically ill and women trying to conceive, as both are at the highest risk for adverse health effects due to gum disease.

The test, called PerioSafe, is a pain-free device patients can administer to themselves that will give results in 10 minutes.

The researchers said that they wanted to create an easy, at-home test for periodontal disease because there are over 28 million people in Germany alone who need treatment for periodontitis, and only one million people are currently treating it. According to the World Health Organization, severe periodontitis is found in 15-20% of adults between the ages of 35 to 44 worldwide.

Such an early detection for periodontitis is extremely important for patients suffering from diabetes, rheumatism, or cardiovascular or lung disease and women who want to conceive or who are already pregnant. Periodontitis has been found to greatly increase the mortality rates for diabetics and the risk of premature birth. Periodontal disease has been linked to an increased risk of stroke as well as other serious health problems.

The test is currently only for sale within Europe, but if it passes FDA standards as well as the standards of the ADA, then hopefully this test will be found in US stores as well. Of course, such a test should never be a substitute for visiting your dentist on a regular basis.

Obesity Conclusively Linked to Gum Disease


Courtesy of

It’s been suggested for awhile now that there is a link between obesity and gum disease. There are already links between diabetes and gum disease, and of course there are links between obesity and diabetes, so one would think that conclusively means there is a link between obesity and gum disease. However, there has been no actual evidence to link gum disease to obesity until now.

Researchers from Case Western Reserve University have found the link between obesity and gum disease by the underlying inflammatory processes found in both conditions.

“Obese individuals’ bodies relentlessly produce cytokines, proteins with inflammatory properties. These cytokines may directly injure the gum tissue or reduce blood flow to the gum tissue, thus promoting the development of gum disease,” explained Dr. Charlene Krejci, the study’s lead author and associate professor at the university.[..Read More]