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Researchers in Europe have found that over half the people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) also have periodontitis, to the point where they have significantly worse dental health than those without RA.
The scientists, presenting at the the Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism earlier this month, also found that the arthritis sufferers with gum disease had more severe versions of RA.
"There is a growing body of evidence to demonstrate an association between periodontal disease and systemic conditions involving inflammatory rheumatic disease (especially RA), cardiovascular disease and diabetes," said lead author Dr Codrina Ancuta of the Grigore T Popa University of Medicine and Pharmacy, in Iasi, Romania.
Inflammation underlying gum disease and linking it to other conditions has prompted calls for dental health providers to help warn patients of the medical risks involved with inadequate dental care.
Anti-TNF therapy, which is commonly used to treat RA inflammation, helped improve periodontal status in 80 percent of the participants in the study, which means that the therapy may be a worthwhile addition to the dentist's toolbelt for treating gum disease.
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