Arthritis and Gum Disease: Is there a Connection?

There are a great many landmines in the world in terms of potential health conditions. For this reason, much of medicine and science over the years has focused on what can potentially be prevented. Oral-systemic health research focuses on links between dental and overall health. There are a number of ways in which your various body systems might relate to your teeth and gums which has dentists and patients paying attention to the bigger picture. Arthritis is one such unpleasant condition of inflammation which effects your joints and could actually begin in your mouth.

 Gums and Knees

Scientific research instituted at Case Western Reserve University, in Cleveland, OH, focused on DNA information as a road map for patterns of the bacteria that cause periodontal (gum) disease. The researchers came up with a hypothesis that germs can travel from a human mouth all the way down to the same person’s knees. Synovial fluid is the liquid which surrounds your knee caps as a protective cushion when you walk or do high impact activities. The fluid is sterile in people who have healthy joints. However, arthritis patients must contend with bacteria which are able to take advantage of an already unhealthy situation. The scientists were actually able to trace a traveling pattern of the same germs from gum tissues all the way into knee joints of arthritic patients.

Oral-Systemic Connection

The Case Western Reserve researchers examined patients with periodontitis (advanced gum disease). Amazingly, identical bacteria were identified in the volunteer’s mouths and knees providing a clarity to this oral-systemic idea. In fact, this is one of the clearest findings in recent oral-systemic research. Information such as this also begs several questions. If these identical germs are found in knee joints, where else could they be traveling to your body and doing damage? And how many other conditions might be prevented by simply brushing your teeth every day and visiting your dentist ever six months for preventive care?