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Treating gum disease helps rheumatoid arthritis sufferers
Date:5/28/2009

soft and hard tissues are destroyed from inflammation caused by toxins from bacterial infection.

One toxin from the inflamed areas called tumor neurosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) is a marker present in the blood when inflammation is present in the body. TNF-α can initiate new infections or aggravate sites where inflammation already exists.

The study's participants were divided into four groups. Two groups of patients were receiving a new group of anti-TNF-α drugs that block the production of TNF-α at inflamed rheumatoid arthritis sites. Two groups were not on this new medication. Half of group of the participant on the medication and half not receiving the new drug received a standard nonsurgical form of periodontal treatment to clean and remove the infection from the bones and tissues in the gum areas. The other half of those studied did not receive the treatment until after completion of the study.

After receiving treatment for the gum disease, improvement in rheumatoid arthritis symptoms was seen in patients who did and did not receive the anti-TNF-α medications, which block the production of TNF-α that aggravate or can cause inflammation. Patients on the TNF- α inhibitors showed even greater improvements over those not receiving the drugs.

"I'm optimistic that someday the biologic agents that we use successfully in treatment of rheumatoid arthritis will lead to improvement of periodontitis and would be available for use and treatment of this perplexing problem," says Askari.

"Again we are seeing another link where good oral health improves the overall health of an individual," says Bissada, who adds that studies have linked gum disease to premature births, heart disease and diabetes.


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Contact: Susan Griffith
susan.griffith@case.edu
216-368-1004
Case Western Reserve University
Source:Eurekalert

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