New research suggests that patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) should go for regular dental treatment as they appear to be at a high risk of periodontal (gum) disease compared with non-sufferers, scientists have said.
A study of 57 rheumatoid arthritis patients and 52 healthy volunteers found that arthritis patients were nearly eight times more likely to have gum disease.
Some patients may have difficulty brushing their teeth, but scientists believe that the latest findings suggest that poor oral hygiene may not be the only reason for the elevated risk.
"Both RA and gum disease are systemic inflammatory disorders which may explain the connection between the two," said Dr Kenneth Kornman, editor of the Journal of Periodontology, in which the study is published.
The expert noted that inflammation is already thought to be responsible for a link between periodontal disease and heart disease and diabetes.
"We look forward to future research that may reveal the biological mechanisms that link these two important diseases," he added.