It seems strange, doesn’t it? You’re reading correctly. Recent research has discovered a correlation between gum disease and arthritic knees.
Periodontal Bacteria Migrating to the Knees
Scientists found traces of periodontal bacteria, or gum bacteria, in the knees of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis patients, which in effect tracked the passage of bacteria from the mouth to the synovial fluid surrounding the kneecap. Researchers analyzed the DNA of the knee bacteria to prove that its origin was, in fact, gum tissue. This study adds further evidence to the link between poor oral health and poor health in general.
Researchers assert that synovial fluid is essentially sterile in healthy knees, and that the presence of bacteria in an already arthritic joint significantly exacerbates arthritis. Although researchers could not prove a cause-and-effect relationship between gum bacteria and the development of arthritis in the patients studied, the finding nevertheless increases credibility of the link between periodontal disease and a growing list of health conditions.
Link Between Gum Disease and Arthritic Knees and Other Health Conditions
Gum disease, which is present in about 50% of Americans, has been previously connected with heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, although, as in this study, direct causal relationships have not been proven. According to an article on LiveScience, one expert asserts that advanced periodontitis can lead to harmful bacteria entering the bloodstream. “Once it gets in, it can go anywhere,” he said. The target is often a site of existing inflammation, such as the arteries or, in this case, the knee.
Even for patients without advanced periodontitis, bacteria may migrate to a weakened knee joint. Researchers recommended that that people with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis be examined for periodontitis and treated accordingly.*
Preventive Oral Hygiene
Since evidence increasingly points to a relationship between poor oral health and increased risk of disease, it makes sense to pay careful attention to your dental hygiene.
Follow the advice of your Chicago dentist:
- Brush your teeth thoroughly (for about two minutes) at least twice a day.
- Floss daily, preferably at night.
- Use an oral rinse.
- See Dr. Fondriest twice a year for dental checkups.
- Maintain a schedule of two dental cleanings per year.
- Take care of any dental problems as they arise.
Your Lake Forest dentist can assist you with preventative and restorative dental care and give you the healthy smile you’ve always wanted. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Fondriest by calling (847)234-0517. Our practice gladly serves patients from Chicago and the area surrounding the 60045 zip code, including those from the North Shore and Northwest Suburbs.