Link between periodontal disease and RA?

Zosia Chustecka

July 05, 2004

Jul 5, 2004

Berlin, Germany - "It's becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the relationship between periodontitis and rheumatoid arthritis [RA]," say a group of researchers from Egypt. At the recent EULAR 2004 meeting, they reported a study showing that RA patients have a greater likelihood of significant periodontal diseases, including more gingival bleeding and calculus and more tooth and alveolar bone loss than a group of age- and sex-matched controls [ 1 ].

"Dental health is an important parameter in the medical health of RA sufferers and becomes particularly pertinent in this vulnerable group in view of the limited dexterity of many patients, which leads to further decreases in oral hygiene and makes matters worse," says Dr Suzan Abou-Raya (University of Alexandria, Egypt) and colleagues. "Both doctors and patients should be enlightened about the link between periodontal disease and rheumatoid arthritis and about the need for good dental health and prompt dental check-ups," they say.

Correlation between alveolar bone loss and RA erosions

The study compared 50 patients (10 males, 40 females, mean age 48.7 years) who had rheumatoid arthritis for a mean of 5.5 years with a group of 50 controls matched for age and sex. Smokers and diabetics were excluded from the study.

A detailed dental examination, carried out blindly, found periodontal disease in 37 RA patients (74%) compared with 11 of the controls (22%). The severity of periodontal disease correlated positively with RA disease duration, with the number of tender and swollen joints, and also with the biochemical measures of erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein (CRP). In addition, there was a significant correlation between the degree of alveolar bone loss and the percentage of erosions scored radiographically in RA patients (r=0.4141, p<0.003).

Periodontal disease and rheumatoid arthritis have similar pathologies, so a better understanding of the biological processes common to both diseases may help in finding new ways to treat with medications that modify the body's responses to inflammation, the researchers comment.



1. Abou-Raya S, Abou-Raya A, Kheir H A-El. Periodontal disease and rheumatoid arthritis: is there a link? Presented at: EULAR 2004; Berlin, Germany; June 9-12, 2004. Abstract THU0283


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.
Post as: