Alzheimer’s Disease Is Linked to Oral Bacteria | Alhambra Dentist

Abnormal inflammation within the brain is thought to play a pivotal role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), according to a study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. The study further states that inflammation from the body may worsen that brain inflammation, specifically gum disease being a chronic infection associated with elevation of serum inflammatory markers (C-reactive protein), has been found to be associated with several systemic diseases, including AD. This study reports on the mechanisms through which gum disease can contribute to the onset and progression of AD.

In simple language, gum disease can cause the inflammatory level of the whole body to go up. This can raise the inflammatory level in the brain. Thus, heightened inflammation caused by gum disease can lead to AD. The good news is because chronic periodontitis is a treatable infection, it might be a readily modifiable risk factor for AD. In other words, treat gum disease and you will lower the risk of getting AD.

In confirmation of the above study, Dr. Judith Miklossy, the director of the International Alzheimer Research Center in Switzerland, states in an interview that, “Yes, six different periodontal pathogen spirochetes [gum disease bacteria] were found to be present in the brain in Alzheimer’s patients. Recently, we have reviewed all the data in respect to the detection of spirochetes in Alzheimer’s disease and the analysis of this data showed a very strong statistical association between the spirochetal infection in Alzheimer’s disease. So, it is extremely important to take care of the oral health.”

Spirochetes is a group of very toxic germs, some of which are associated with syphilis and Lyme disease, while others are found in the oral cavity. It is postulated that these oral types of spirochetes actually find their way to the brain to compound the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

So, the conclusion is very clear. See your dentist regularly. When you go to your regular dental check-up, seriously consider any advice given by your dentist about your gum condition. Remember, it’s not only your teeth, it’s your brain and the rest of your body that will benefit when your gums are healthy and free of any infection.

If you would like more information about Alzheimer’s disease, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

Educating the Public About Pinhole | Alhambra Dentist

You may have heard of the saying “getting long in the tooth” when used to describe someone as aging. But have you ever thought about where this saying comes from? It turns out that as we age, our gums begin to recede. And with this recession comes an unattractive smile, an increased tooth sensitivity and a higher chance of tooth loss. In order to prevent this, your dental professional may suggest gum rejuvenation as a treatment option.

Gum rejuvenation is a ground-breaking dental procedure that will not only renew your bright smile, but can be done with no incisions, stitches or grafts. Created by Dr. John Chao, the Pinhole Surgical Technique is an increasingly popular option because the turnaround time is quick (procedure can be done in one visit), recovery time is minimal (patients have been able to eat the same day) and because there is no incisions or grafting, it is virtually pain-free.

This month is National Gum Rejuvenation Month and to celebrate, we have been filming a commercial to get the word out to the public about this life-changing procedure. Not only will the improvements Pinhole Surgical Technique made to their smiles boost their self-esteem and fix any sensitivity issues, but the health benefits and gum disease prevention will improve their overall quality of life. It is important that our patients have every treatment option available to give them the smiles they deserve. Look for our new commercial coming soon. If you would like to learn more about Pinhole Surgical Technique, visit www.AskYourDentistAboutPinhole.com.

If you would like more information about Pinhole Surgical Technique, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

Good News: Healthy Gums Lower Blood Sugar | Alhambra Dentist

According to the American Diabetic Association, roughly 10% of the U.S. population have diabetes and about 30% (84 million) have prediabetes. 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes. It is the 7th leading cause of death in the U.S.

Now for the good news…

It has been known for a long time that people with diabetes, especially uncontrolled diabetes, have more gum disease than those without diabetes. According to the American Dental Association, scientists are finding that gum disease may raise blood sugar levels in people with and without diabetes. Conversely, the good news is that in people with type 2 diabetes, treatment of severe gum disease can lead to a drop in blood sugar levels. The benefit is about the same as you might find if you add another drug to your usual diabetes medicine.

For the 84 million Americans who have prediabetes, there is also good news. The American Dental Association has reported a study in Denmark that showed periodontitis accelerates the progression of prediabetes into diabetes. Hence, treating and controlling periodontitis is a way to lower the risk onset of diabetes for these 84 million Americans who are pre-diabetic.

How would one know whether or not one is already pre-diabetic? When you see your physician on a regular basis for routine blood tests, screening for diabetes will reveal your status. One of the clues to whether you have additional risk factors for diabetes is a family history of diabetes. And incidentally, one of the risk factors for gum disease is family history of gum disease and loss of teeth.

How does gum disease make blood sugar levels go up? Scientists think that some of the germs in infected gums lead into the bloodstream after normal activities such as chewing or tooth brushing. This starts a reaction from your body’s defense system, which in turn produces some powerful molecules (biochemicals, such as cytokines) that have harmful effects all over your body. One of the things these molecules do is to raise blood sugar levels.

Since 40% of the population has issues with diabetes or prediabetes, and half of the population have periodontitis, it is essential that everyone visit the physician and the dentist regularly.  It will save your life and your teeth. Healthy teeth mean a healthy life, and a healthy life means healthy teeth.

If you would like more information about gum disease, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

What Causes Loose Teeth and How to Save Them | Alhambra Dentist

A loose tooth in a child often signals an exciting rite of passage. Once a person reaches adolescence, however, a loose tooth is no longer a normal occurrence. Adults may be alarmed when they notice loose teeth. Adult teeth are permanent and designed to last a lifetime. Some causes of loose teeth in adults are harmless. Others require the care of a dental professional to save the tooth, remove it, or replace it with an implant or bridge.

Gum disease. Poor dental hygiene may cause a loose tooth. Also known as periodontitis, this stage of gum disease involves inflammation and infection of the gums, usually caused by poor dental hygiene habits. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States report that half of the country’s adults aged 30 or older have gum disease.

When brushing and flossing efforts do not remove plaque, gum disease can develop. Plaque contains bacteria. It sticks to teeth and hardens over time until only a dental health professional can remove it. Hardened plaque, known as tartar, causes the gums to pull away from the teeth, creating gaps that can become infected. Over time, this process can break down the bone and tissue supporting the teeth, causing the teeth to become loose.

Other signs of gum disease include:

  • Gums that are tender, red, painful, or swollen
  • Gums that bleed when the teeth are brushed
  • Gum recession
  • Changes in the way the teeth fit together

Any signs of gum disease should be checked by a dentist as soon as possible. Early detection and treatment can prevent tooth loss.

Pregnancy. Raised levels of estrogen and progesterone during pregnancy can affect the bones and tissues in the mouth. Having more of these hormones can alter the periodontium, which is the collection of bones and ligaments that support the teeth and keep them in place. When the periodontium is affected, one or more teeth may feel loose.

The changes to this part of the body will resolve after pregnancy, and they are not a cause for concern. However, anyone experiencing pain or loose teeth during pregnancy should see a dentist to rule out gum disease and other oral health problems. It is safe for pregnant people to have dental checkups, cleanings, and X-rays, according to the American Dental Association and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. In fact, because of a possible link between gum disease and premature birth, pregnant women are encouraged to see dentists regularly.

Injury to the teeth. Injuries sustained because of contact sports may cause loose teeth. Healthy teeth are strong, but an impact from a blow to the face or a car accident, for example, can damage teeth and surrounding tissue. The result may be chipped or loose teeth.

Similarly, clenching the teeth during times of stress or grinding them at night can wear down the tissues and loosen the teeth. Many people are unaware of their clenching or grinding habits until they result in jaw pain. A dentist may be able to detect the problem before the teeth are permanently damaged. Anyone who suspects that an injury has damaged the teeth should see a dentist as soon as possible. Sports injuries, accidents, and falls, for example, can cause dental damage.

Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease that causes the bones to weaken and become porous. As a result, even minor bumps and impacts can lead to broken bones. While osteoporosis commonly affects the spine, hips, and wrists, it can also damage the bones in the jaw that support the teeth. If the jaw bones become less dense, the teeth may loosen and fall out. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the U.S. also report a possible link between bone loss and an increased risk of gum disease.

Certain medications used to treat osteoporosis can cause dental health problems, though this is uncommon. In rare cases, drugs called bisphosphonates, which help to treat bone loss, can lead to lose teeth. This is known as osteonecrosis of the jaw.

Authors of one study suggest that osteonecrosis rarely occurs in people who are taking bisphosphonates in pill form, but that the condition may develop in people who receive the medication intravenously. Trauma and surgical procedures, such as tooth extraction, can also cause osteonecrosis.

How to prevent teeth from coming loose:

Loose teeth cannot always be prevented, but a person can take steps to reduce the risk. Tips for tooth and gum health include:

  • Brushing the teeth thoroughly twice a day
  • Flossing once a day
  • Refraining from smoking
  • Attending dental checkups and cleanings as often as recommended
  • Wearing a properly fitted mouth guard while playing sports
  • Wearing a bite splint, when nighttime grinding or clenching is an issue
  • Asking a doctor about calcium and vitamin D supplementation to help prevent osteoporosis
  • Keeping diabetes under control, as diabetes is a risk factor for gum disease
  • Being aware of medications that may affect the teeth

Treatment options for a loose tooth:

A range of treatments can help, and the best option will depend on the cause of the looseness. Treatments include:

Splint loose teeth to firmer teeth.  Splinting means a way of stitching your teeth together with hidden wiring.  You have probably seen a retainer-type of wiring the back of the lower front teeth to prevent teeth from moving after braces. That’s what your dentist can do for your loose teeth.    In some select cases the loose teeth can be splinted together with crowns.

Scaling and root planing. This is a type of deep cleaning procedure that can treat and help to reverse gum disease.

Medications or mouth rinses. These can help infected gums to heal and combat bacteria in the mouth.

Surgery. The aim will be to remove inflamed gum tissue and bone that has been damaged by gum disease.

Bone grafts. These can help to rebuild bone lost to gum disease.

Soft tissue grafts. Also known as gum grafts, these can prevent further gum or tooth loss in people with gum disease.

Dental appliances, such as bite splints. These can reduce damage from grinding and may help the mouth to heal after dental surgery.

Treatment for diabetes. Appropriate treatment is important for dental health.

So, if you have loose teeth or suspect you might be prone to have them, see your dentist as soon as possible.  As the old saying goes, “A stitch in time saves nine.”  What we dentists can also say, “Splint your teeth in time, you will be fine.”

If you would like more information about loose teeth, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

Marijuana Use May Lead to Gum Disease | Alhambra Dentist

Long-term marijuana use may lead to gum disease, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Marijuana (cannabis) is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States.

According to a 2014 survey conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), as many as 22.2 million people used cannabis in the previous month.

Marijuana use is common among teenagers. NIDA reports that nearly 20% of 12th graders are currently using marijuana. Short term detrimental effects include feelings of fear, anxiety, delusions, psychosis and hallucinations.

In the context of prior research, marijuana use may raise the risk of accidents and injuries, bronchitis, cardiovascular problems, infectious disease, and poor mental health, according to authors of the JAMA article.

The JAMA 30-year study tracked 1037 individuals from 3 years old to when they turn 30. This study found “clear evidence of an adverse association with cannabis use – namely, periodontal disease”. This study was able to isolate risk factors associated with smoking cigarettes from those associated with marijuana use. The evidence regarding marijuana use include loss of bone that support the teeth. This loss is generally the main detrimental result of periodontal (gum) disease. Gum disease is the major cause of the loss of teeth in adults. Nearly 50% of American adults 30 years of age or older have gum disease. Poor oral hygiene, smoking and diabetes are known causes of periodontal disease.

If you are using marijuana under the care of a medical provider, it is recommended that you see your dentist regularly to check for gum disease. Certainly, you should discuss with your dentist the additional ways you can prevent gum disease. This may consist of developing thorough (but gentle) hygiene habits, more frequent regular checkups and the proper use of hygiene aids, such as appropriate mouth rinses and flossing devices.

If you would like more information about the dental effects of marijuana use, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

Controlling Gum Disease for Possible Cancer Prevention | Alhambra Dentist

A recent study lead by New York University of Dentistry and the New York University School of Medicine concluded that a lack of bacterial diversity in the mouth was identified in people with precancerous lesions that could precede stomach cancer. This is based on the fact that there is a healthy mix of a vast variety of bacteria living in beneficial coexistence in the oral cavity. When there is disease, certain bacterial groups take over the oral environment and, in the process, eliminate certain beneficial bacteria. This results in what’s called lack of “bacterial diversity”. Where this shrinkage of bacterial variety occurs, the findings of this study concludes that there are higher incidences of precancerous lesions that lead to stomach cancer. It is also theorized that restoration of the normal balance of bacteria in the mouth would lessen the risk of stomach cancer. These finding were published in the November 2017 issue of Journal of Periodontology.

The American Cancer Society estimated that 26,370 new cases of stomach or gastric cancer would be diagnosed in 2016, resulting in 10,703 deaths. Accumulating evidence suggests that chronic inflammation caused by oral bacterial infections may contribute to the development and progression of various types of cancer, including stomach cancer.

Although some risk factors – such as H. pylori colonization, cigarette smoking, and eating salt and preserved foods – have previously been confirmed to contribute to the development of stomach cancer, many new cases unrelated to these risk factors are diagnosed each year. Scientists have hypothesized that a group of pathogens may be responsible for causing periodontal disease and the resulting chronic systemic inflammation that may contribute to the development of gastric cancer.

This study assesses the association between periodontal pathogen colonization and the potential risk of developing precancerous lesions – including chronic atrophic gastritis, intestinal metaplasia, and dysplasia – that may predict stomach cancer.

The researchers studied 105 individuals scheduled to receive an upper endoscopy. After the endoscopic procedure and histopathologic evaluation, 35 people were diagnosed with precancerous lesions of gastric cancer and another 70 people of the same ages without precancerous lesions were included in the study as a control group.

The researchers concluded that the colonization of microbes (germs) and lack of bacterial diversity in the oral cavity are important factors that, when at higher or lower levels respectively, may contribute to an increased risk of developing precancerous gastric lesions.

So, it is critical not only to your oral health, but critical to your general health, to see your dentist regularly. Regular checkups will save your teeth and even save your life. ​

If you would like more information about cancer prevention, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

Diabetes Leads to Gum Disease; Gum Disease leads to Diabetes | Alhambra Dentist

Poorly controlled diabetic patients are at risk for numerous oral complications, such as periodontal disease, salivary gland dysfunction, infection, neuropathy, and poor healing.

Diabetes mellitus (diabetes) is a common chronic disease of abnormal carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism that affects an estimated 20 million people in the United States, of whom about one third are undiagnosed. There are two major forms recognized, type-1 and type-2. Both are characterized by inappropriately high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia). In type-1 diabetes, the patient cannot produce the hormone insulin, while in type-2 diabetes the patient produces insulin, but it is not used properly. An estimated 90% of diabetic patients suffer from type-2 disease. The causes of diabetes are multiple and both genetic and environmental factors contribute to its development. The genetic predisposition for type-2 diabetes is very strong and numerous environmental factors such as diet, lack of exercise, and being overweight are known to also increase one’s risk for diabetes. Diabetes is a dangerous disease which affects the entire body and diabetic patients are at increased risk for heart disease, hypertension, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, neuropathy, and infection when compared to nondiabetic patients. Diabetic patients also have impaired healing when compared to healthy individuals. This is in part due to the dysfunction of certain white blood cells that fight infection.

The most common test used to diagnose diabetes is the fasting blood glucose. This test measures the glucose levels at a specific moment in time (normal is 80-110 mg/dl). In managing diabetes, the goal is to normalize blood glucose levels. It is generally accepted that by maintaining normalized blood glucose levels, one may delay or even prevent some of the complications associated with diabetes. Measures to manage diabetes include behavioral modification (proper diet, exercise) and drug therapies (oral hypoglycemic, insulin replacement). The choice of therapy prescribed takes into consideration the type and severity of the disease present and patient compliance. The physician may request the patient to keep a log of their daily blood glucose measurements to better assess therapeutic success. Another commonly obtained test is the hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), which is a surrogate marker used to assess blood glucose levels over an extended period (2-3 months). This test provides the physician with a good picture of the patient’s glucose levels over time.

Oral changes are evident in poorly managed diabetics. These patients are at risk for numerous oral complications, such as periodontal disease, salivary gland dysfunction, infection, neuropathy, and poor healing. None of these complications are unique to diabetes. However, their presence may serve as an early clue to the possible presence of diabetes, prompting your dentist to perform or request further testing.

Periodontal disease is a commonly observed dental problem for patients with diabetes. It is similar to the periodontal disease encountered among nondiabetic patients. However, as a consequence of the impaired immunity and healing associated with diabetes, it may be more severe and progress more rapidly. The potential for these changes points to the need for periodic professional evaluation and treatment.

In conclusion, we can summarize the above by citing the American Dental Association, which states that those with diabetes are more at risk for getting periodontal disease; and those with periodontal disease are more likely to contract diabetes. Good hygiene and regular visits to the dentist will lower our risk for gum disease, as well as diabetes and other diseases. Keeping your blood sugar level within the normal range by proper diet and exercise will keep your body healthy and lower the risk of gum disease.

(This column is partly based on statements of the American Academy of Oral Medicine.)

If you would like more information about diabetes, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

Abscessed Teeth Increases Risk of Heart Attacks | Alhambra Dentist

In a study carried out at the University of Helsinki, in cooperation with the Heart and Lung Centre of the university and published in the Journal of Dental Research, a dental abscess (infection at the root tip of a tooth) increases the risk of coronary artery disease, even if there no pain. The study states, “Acute coronary syndrome (heart attack) is 2.7 times more common among patients with untreated teeth in need of root canal treatment than among patients without this issue.” In short, this study suggests a substantially higher risk of heart attacks among those with untreated abscessed (dead) teeth.

A dental abscess is a reaction of the body to microbial infection of the dental pulp, the nerve and blood vessels in the canals of the root. Dental caries (cavities) is the most common cause of abscesses.

Gum infections have been found to be associated with many common chronic diseases. Low grade inflammation generated by oral infections is postulated to be an independent risk factor for coronary artery disease and diabetes. This is the first study to link a need for root canal treatment to heart disease.

In this study of 508 Finnish patients with a mean age of 62 years who were experiencing heart symptoms, 58 percent were found to be suffering from one or more dental abscesses. Furthermore, these dental abscesses were connected with a high level of serum antibodies related to common bacteria. Thus, a dental abscess, whether painful or not, can affect other parts of the body as well.

Cardiovascular diseases cause more than 30 percent of deaths globally. They can be prevented by a healthy diet, weight control, exercise and not smoking. With regard to the health of the heart, measures should be taken to prevent or treat oral infections, as they are very common and often asymptomatic. Root canal treatment of an infected tooth may eliminate an unnecessary risk of heart disease. In other words, root canal treatment can save lives.

If you would like more information about cardiovascular disease, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

7 Reasons Sugar Is Bad for You | Alhambra Dentist

Refined sugar or added sugar is said to be the most harmful ingredient in the Standard American Diet (SAD). Its harmful effects on metabolism may be traceable to many other diseases. Below are 7 of the reasons for you go sugar-free for 2018:

Sugar. Sugar, as we all know, is bad for your teeth. What you may not know is that it is also bad for your gums. Bacteria, which cause gum disease and loose teeth, can metabolize sugar in its pure form in the mouth, leading to an increase in the growth of these germs. Therefore, sugar can cause cavities and loose teeth.

Sugar and liver disease. Overloading your diet with sugar can cause the liver to overwork to convert sugar into glycogen. When the saturation is reached, liver is forced to covert glycogen into fat, which in turn, has deleterious effects on the body. In more extreme cases of heavy sugar intake, the liver itself can be damaged, leading to Fatty-Liver-Disease.

Sugar and diabetes. Excessive intake of sugar can cause insulin resistance. Insulin is necessary for glucose to enter the cells and be used for energy. Excessive glucose can cause the cells to become “insulin resistant”. Becoming insulin-resistant can be the cause of diabetes II, metabolic syndrome, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, etc.

Sugar and cancer. Cancer is characterized by uncontrolled growth and multiplication of cells. Insulin plays a key role in regulating cell growth. Elevated insulin levels because of an abnormally high intake of sugar can contribute to cancer, according to leading experts. Additionally, high blood glucose is associated with high levels of inflammation, which also contributes to higher risk of cancer.

Sugar and addiction. Sugar stimulate the production of dopamine from the “feel-good” center of the brain. Those who have susceptibility to addiction may become addicted to sugar and junk foods.

Sugar and obesity. Strong links have been found between sugar and obesity – that is no surprise.  But obesity in children has been found to be associated with sugar-sweetened beverages. There is a 60% chance of obesity in children who consume high amounts of these beverages.

Sugar and heart disease. Strong links have been shown between sugar and heart disease. High intake of sugar can lead to rise in triglycerides, LDL, high blood glucose and abdominal obesity, all of which are risk factors for heart disease.

So, cutting down or cutting out refined/added sugar in your diet can not only save your teeth, but can save your life. See your dentist regularly. Make your goal for 2018 to cut down or cut out added sugar altogether. Do it now! You won’t regret it.

If you would like more information about sugar effects, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

Gum Treatment Reduces Pain of Rheumatoid Arthritis | Alhambra Dentist

“After gum treatment my arthritis pain is at least 65% better.” Mary, age 36, has been suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) for five years. Her suffering has been particularly from pain and swelling in the joints of the wrists, hands and toes. Because of the severity of the symptoms, her rheumatologist insisted that she see the dentist for treatment of noticeable oral infections. Her rheumatologist told her that removing sources of infection from the oral cavity may very well lessen the severity of her condition. Having been a reader of my columns for many years, she chose to come to this office for treatment. After uneventful non-surgical gum treatment, she was thrilled that pain had subsided by so much. Mary also said that she felt more energetic and definitely more enthusiastic about life. Even her complexion cleared up. Although we cannot predict the exact effect of gum treatment in every case involving rheumatoid arthritis, Mary’s experience is not uncommon in my practice. We have seen many cases just like Mary’s. In fact, this association between rheumatoid arthritis and gum treatment has been reported in various medical and dental journals for at least the past ten years. But what is the science behind this improvement?

A recent study published by the American Rheumatism Association compared the dental health of 44 patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with 44 healthy patients. With 95% confidence level, the study concluded that RA patients are more at risk for gum disease (periodontitis), thus being more susceptible to gum disease. It came as no surprise, since a previous study also showed that patients with rheumatoid arthritis may have a higher risk for gum disease (periodontitis). In an article published in January 2008 in the Journal of Rheumatoid Arthritis, called Association of Periodontal Disease and Tooth Loss with Rheumatoid Arthritis in the US Population it was concluded that “RA (rheumatoid arthritis) may be associated with tooth loss and periodontitis”. This study involved 4,461 patients.

What is interesting is that a third study published June 2009 in an issue of the Journal of Periodontology titled Periodontal Therapy Reduces the Severity of Active Rheumatoid Arthritis in Patients Treated with or without Tumor Necrosis Factor Inhibitors showed that non-surgical treatment of gum disease “had a beneficial effect on signs and symptoms of RA”. The latter study was a collaborative project between the Division of Rheumatology, University Hospital Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio and the Department of Periodontology, School of Dentistry of Case Western Reserve University. This study involved forty rheumatoid arthritis patients who also had been diagnosed for moderate or severe gum disease. Twenty received non-surgical gum treatment and the other twenty received no gum treatment. Six weeks of objective observation by rheumatologists and blood tests were done.

The story that these three studies tell is that RA patients tend to get periodontitis which if treated, may likely reduce symptoms of RA.

How are these two disorders related?  According to the summary of the literature, as reported in this article, rheumatoid arthritis and periodontitis (gum disease) share some common characteristics. Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease wherein the autoimmune system attacks the hard and soft tissue of the joints. Periodontitis is a bacterially-incited inflammatory disease wherein the autoimmune system attacks and hard (bony) and soft (gum) tissue around the teeth. Bacteria that cause gum disease have been found in the joints of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis have been shown to have more antibodies against bacteria that cause gum disease than those patients without rheumatoid arthritis. Artificially-induced rheumatoid arthritis has been associated with development of gum disease in some laboratory experiments.

Hence it appears that studies reported in both medical and dental journals acknowledge the association between rheumatoid arthritis and periodontitis. Although there is no scientific basis to definitively conclude that there is a “causal” relationship as yet, there is no downside risk in having one’s gum disease treated, no matter whether you have rheumatoid arthritis or not. Furthermore, there is no dispute that removing infection from the gums and the mouth will not only save teeth, but also certainly improve one’s general health. In conclusion, for the rheumatoid arthritis patient who has gum disease or without, only good can come out of seeing the dentist. See your dentist regularly. You can’t lose.

If you would like more information about gum treatment, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.