Man with ArthritisLove Your Gums!

Treating gum disease can actually reduce the severity of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.

Arthritis sufferers may soon be jumping for joy. Yes—in case you needed another reason to nip gum disease in the bud, researchers are demonstrating a link between periodontitis and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The good news is, treating gum disease can go beyond creating a healthy foundation for your teeth and actually reduce the severity of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.

It makes sense. In both diseases, unchecked inflammation eats away at hard and soft tissues. So scientists studied whether the condition of arthritis patients who also had periodontal disease might be improved using nonsurgical treatment of gum disease—just standard scaling and root planing. They discovered that removing infection and inflammation from the gums reduced arthritic pain and stiffness.

In a new study the same researchers divided patients with both RA and periodotitis into four groups. Two groups received anti-inflammation medicine, and the other two did not. Half the members of each group were treated for their gum disease, while the others were not.

The anti-inflammatory medication together with the periodontal therapy provided the most improvement. Therapy without the medication still brought improvement, but the medicine without the therapy had no significant effect. While researchers believe these drugs may help to treat gum disease, so far it appears that preventing periodontitis provides benefits to arthritis sufferers as well as preventing many other diseases.