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Researchers in Berlin, Germany have found a link between periodontal (gum) disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
The results of their study, published in the Journal of Periodontology, showed that arthritic patients had a higher incidence of gum disease that healthy people.
This could be because rheumatoid arthritis affects manual dexterity and therefore can impede a sufferer's oral care routine, such as brushing teeth or flossing, which in turn can lead to periodontis.
However, as they found that people with this condition were nearly eight times more likely to have gum disease, the researchers suggested that poor oral hygiene alone could not account for the link.
Dr Kenneth Kornman, editor of the journal, commented: "It is easy to assume that a rheumatoid arthritis sufferer is perhaps unable to properly care for his or her teeth and gums due to the debilitating nature of the disease however, this study implies that there are other potential factors involved."
He noted that as both arthritis and gum disease are inflammatory disorders, this could help explain the connection between the two. This link has been made in the past between periodontis and heart disease.
Gum disease has also been associated with an increased risk of diabetes and premature labor.
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