Non-smokers who have moderate to severe periodontitis (gum disease) may be at a greater risk for developing rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Presented at the annual scientific meeting of the European League Against Rheumatism earlier this month, the study adds to the growing body of evidence that dental health is inextricably linked to the overall medical condition of the body.
The study looked at patients who had been part of a study on heart disease over 10 years earlier. All the patients had been examined by dentists for gum disease when they were enrolled in the study in the late 1990s.
The researchers found that the risk of having RA was 2.6 times higher for those who had gum disease than those without. For lifetime non-smokers, the risk of RA associated with gum disease was 8.8 times higher. Those with poor dental health also had a higher risk of having a more severe form of RA.
Dental care is proving to be ever more important as a major factor of overall health care. The ADA recommends regular dental checkups twice a year at a minimum.
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