At first glance, rheumatoid arthritis and periodontal disease don't seem to have any connection, but a study featured on Medical News Today reveals that they are, in fact, related--periodontal disease may be a predictor and agitator of rheumatoid arthritis.

Researchers from the University of Louisville School of Dentistry Oral Health and Systemic Diseases and the European Union's Gums and Joints Project reveal that the bacteria behind periodontal disease Porphyromonas gingivalis (P. gingivalis) may cause rheumatic arthritis to develop earlier, progress faster, and permeate deeper.

P. gingivalis produces an enzyme called peptidylarginine deiminanse (PAD), which is directly linked to collagen-induced arthritis (CIA). These enzymes transform certain proteins into citrulline, which the body's immune system sees as a threat and consequently attacks. The agitation of the immune system causes the sudden progression of rheumatic arthritis, which may lead to bone and cartilage destruction.

This highlights the importance of gum health and dental hygiene. Although brushing your teeth and flossing to protect you from rheumatic arthritis may sound silly, such habits may one day save you from chronic pain.

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(Photo by handarmdoc via Flickr Creative Commons)

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