Some new research coming from two Johns Hopkins physicians is linking periodontal disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis. I’ll try to make this as non-technical as I can, for the article described a pretty complex process and was a very technical article.
A bacterium, A. actinomycetemcomitans (ya had to know didn’t you!), which causes chronic inflammatory gum infections also apparently triggers the inflammatory autoimmune response characteristic of chronic, joint-destroying rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Investigators have long observed a clinical association between periodontal disease and RA since the early 1900s and have suspected that both diseases may be triggered by a common factor. The researchers found that a similar process which had previously been observed in the joints of patients with RA was also occurring in the gums of patients with periodontal disease.
While the process happens naturally in everyone as a way to regulate the function of proteins, it becomes overactive in people with RA, resulting in the production of antibodies against these proteins which then creates inflammation attacking a person’s own tissues—the hallmark of RA.
The researchers found this bacterium which is associated with periodontal disease, was the only pathogen able to induce the inflammatory response in neutrophils–the most abundant inflammatory white blood cell found both in the joints and gums of patients with RA and periodontal disease.
However the two researchers pointed out that only 60% of the RA patients tested positive for the bacterium, which indicated to them that other locales, such as the intestinal track or lungs might also contributing to the process which produces RA. Yet the numbers were high enough that they felt this bacterium found in the mouth was the trigger for a fairly substantial number of RA patients.
Remember, when gums bleed, blood comes out of the bloodstream and….”bugs” go into the bloodstream.
Dr. Joseph Heher has been providing his patients with beautiful, healthy smiles f0r more than 30 years. As a Salisbury, MD dentist, he uses modern technology and proven therapies to deliver outstanding service and quality care. Dr. Heher is an accomplished author and has been published in both regional and national dental journals.
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