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People with gum disease and severe rheumatoid arthritis had less morning stiffness, less arthritic pain and suffered from fewer swollen joints when they restored their dental health, according to a study appearing in the Journal of Periodontology.
"It was exciting to find that if we eliminated the infection and inflammation in the gums, then patients with a severe kind of active rheumatoid arthritis reported improvement on the signs and symptoms of that disease," said Nabil Bissada, an author on the study. "It gives us a new intervention," adds Bissada.
Dr Ali Askari, who also participated in the study, noted that even historically healers suspected a link between the two diseases. In the past, sometimes doctors performed teeth extraction to help make the arthritis sufferers feel better. Askari said the study results should prompt rheumatologists to encourage their patients to be aware of the link between periodontal disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
"Again we are seeing another link where good oral health improves the overall health of an individual," says Bissada, who adds that studies have linked gum disease to premature births, heart disease and diabetes.
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