Arthritis symptoms: Tooth loss may predict rheumatoid arthritis, according to new research

Five warning signs of rheumatoid arthritis

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Periodontitis is the later stage of gum disease, which affects the tissues that support teeth and hold them in place. Left untreated, the bone in the jaw can become damaged and teeth could fall out. The first warning signs of gum disease are bleeding gums (when you brush your teeth) and bad breath. The NHS continued to say that “most adults in the UK have gum disease to some degree”.

An early stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis, which can develop into periodontitis.

Periodontitis can lead to small spaces opening up between the gum and teeth, before teeth are lost.

Research conducted by Umeå University in Sweden found that jawbone loss caused by periodontitis predates the onset of rheumatoid arthritis.

The senior lecturer at the department of odontology at Umeå University commented on the new-found association.

Pernilla Lundberg said that individuals with rheumatoid arthritis were more likely to show signs of tooth loss than those with healthy joints.

In addition, Pernilla said that treatments aimed at periodontitis have also been shown to ease joint pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis.

Her conclusions are based on the analysis of dental X-rays belonging to 176 subjects, 93 of whom subsequently developed rheumatoid arthritis.

Among these participating subjects, 46 had documented X-rays predating symptom onset of rheumatoid arthritis.

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The connection between jaw bone loss and rheumatoid arthritis was only found in non-smokers.

Smoking is one risk factor for developing problems with your gums, said the NHS.

Other risk factors include stress, diabetes, malnutrition and a weakened immune system.

What’s rheumatoid arthritis?

The charity Versus Arthritis explained it’s an auto-immune condition whereby the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissues.

As a result, joints become inflamed, which can cause pain, swelling and stiffness.

“Inflammation is normally an important part of how your immune system works,” said Versus Arthritis.

“It allows the body to send extra fluid and blood to a part of the body under attack from an infection.”

However, in the case of rheumatoid arthritis, the inflammation in the joint is unnecessary and causes problems.

As well as tenderness and stiffness in the joints, there may be some redness.

Treatment for the condition includes medication, such as painkillers, and physical therapy.

Physical therapy includes exercise to improve painful symptoms, even if it’s sore to do at first.

If soreness continues, tai chi and yoga tend to be suitable alternatives.

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