A germ linked to gum disease may also be tied to rheumatoid arthritis according to research findings. The discovery may help pinpoint the potential origins of rheumatoid arthritis. Co-author of the study Dr. Felipe Andrade explained, “If we’re right, this will totally change the view of rheumatoid arthritis and treatment of patients.” Unfortunately, the findings are still quite early and so additional research is required in order to confirm them.
It has been well known that patients with rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to suffer form gum disease, although the link hasn’t been well understood. This made researchers suspect that there could be an underlying factor which linked both conditions.
Researchers have found that rheumatoid arthritis patients with fewer teeth – possibly caused by gum disease – have more severe RA symptoms. A possible explanations for this was that a reduction in hand mobility made it difficult for patients to clean their teeth thus making them susceptible to gum disease. Modern theories are now focusing on a possible bacteria link instead.
The researchers looked at nearly 200 samples of gums in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and looked for evidence to link A. actinomycetemcomitans bacteria to gum disease and RA.
Signs of infection were found in nearly half of the patients. The findings raise the possibility that A. actinomycetemcomitans may lead to swelling and inflammation of the gums which can also affect the joints, too.
Although additional research is needed to confirm the findings it does shed light on the possibility of targeting A. actinomycetemcomitans as a means of improving rheumatoid arthritis and gum disease treatment. Furthermore, the findings suggest that rheumatoid arthritis may be treated with the use of antibiotics.
The findings were published in Science Translational Medicine.