May 12, 2021

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Why brushing your teeth properly can stave off arthritis


Study suggests that brushing your teeth properly prevents arthritis: unhealthy bacteria in the mouth have links with autoimmune diseases.

  • A new study found that brushing your teeth properly can prevent rheumatoid arthritis
  • The autoimmune condition may be related to unhealthy bacteria in the mouth
  • The research was conducted by the Academic Dental Center in Amsterdam

It can eliminate bad breath and promises a perfect smile. And now there is another benefit to properly brushing your teeth – it can prevent rheumatoid arthritis.

A new study shows that an autoimmune condition – which causes swollen and painful joints – may be linked to unhealthy bacteria in the mouth.

The research, from the Academic Dental Center in Amsterdam, examined 50 people with rheumatoid arthritis and 50 with inflammatory joint pain.

Researchers at the Academic Dental Center in Amsterdam have found that cleaning your teeth properly can prevent rheumatoid arthritis. (Stock image)

They looked at the bacteria on the volunteers’ tongues, saliva, and plaque, and compared them to 50 healthy people of the same age.

Those with and at risk of rheumatoid arthritis have been found to have higher levels of the two types of bacteria – including one known to cause chronic inflammation in the body.

The results, published in Arthritis & Rheumatology, suggest that good oral hygiene can prevent harmful bacteria and the risk of developing the condition.

Lead writer Joanna Croese said the next step would be to see if targeting these bacteria, called Prevotella and Philonella, reduces the risk of developing arthritis.

Ms Croese said: “ Our research indicates that oral bacteria may play a role in triggering the onset of rheumatoid arthritis.

If this is the case, the next step in future research will be to see whether the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis can be reduced by targeting these bacteria.

Rheumatoid arthritis affects roughly 1 in 100 people in the UK, and their total number is over 400,000.

It affects two to three times as many women as men.

Researchers have found similar levels of oral bacteria in both people with the disease and those at high risk of contracting the disease, who already have joint pain and high levels of antibodies that attack healthy joints.

During their study, scientists looked at 50 people with rheumatoid arthritis and 50 with inflammatory joint pain.  (Stock image)

During their study, scientists looked at 50 people with rheumatoid arthritis and 50 with inflammatory joint pain. (Stock image)

Compared to healthy people, both groups had higher levels of saliva than Prevotella – and some of its strains were found to cause chronic inflammation similar to rheumatoid arthritis.

They also have higher levels of a type of microbe called veilonella in their saliva and on their tongues, compared to the balance of other bacteria in their mouths.

All of the arthritis patients in the study were diagnosed within the previous year, and this condition likely causes the bacteria in the mouth to be disturbed.

However, experts believe that brushing the teeth is more likely to cause harmful bacteria to thrive and enter the bloodstream, causing inflammation that may help trigger rheumatoid arthritis.

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