Results of a study suggesting the risk for gum disease is higher for people with rheumatoid arthritis was recently published online in the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.
The goal of the small study was “to find the strength of association between
periodontal disease and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in nonsmoking, disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug naive RA patients in a case-control design,” the authors wrote. The researchers compared 91 adults with RA to 93 health control subjects. All study participants were nonsmokers, since smoking is a known risk factor for RA, and had not been treated with arthritis drugs. Demographic data and disease-specific variables were recorded for both groups, the authors reported. Disease activity was quantified using a specific score and by measuring levels of inflammatory markers. Nearly 65 percent of patients with RA had evidence of gum disease, compared with 28 percent of their healthy peers.
“Gum disease is more common and severe in rheumatoid arthritis patients than in healthy controls ... and could be a potential environmental trigger in the [development] and also in the maintenance of systemic inflammation in [the disease],” the study authors concluded. Although the study found an association between RA and the prevalence of gum disease, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
Source: Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, 71(9):1541–4.