Health

Why brushing your teeth properly could ward off arthritis

Why brushing your teeth properly could ward off arthritis: Unhealthy bacteria in the mouth has links to autoimmune condition, study suggests

  • Brushing teeth properly could stave off rheumatoid arthritis, new study found
  • The autoimmune condition may be linked to unhealthy bacteria in the mouth 
  • Research was carried out by the Academic Centre for Dentistry in Amsterdam 

It can banish bad breath and promise the perfect smile. And now there’s another benefit to brushing your teeth properly – as it could stave off rheumatoid arthritis.

For the autoimmune condition – which causes joints to become swollen and painful – may be linked to unhealthy bacteria in the mouth, according to a new study. 

The research, from the Academic Centre for Dentistry in Amsterdam, looked at 50 people with rheumatoid arthritis and 50 with inflammatory joint pain.

Researchers at the Academic Centre for Dentistry in Amsterdam found brushing your teeth properly could stave off rheumatoid arthritis. (Stock image)

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

Those with rheumatoid arthritis and those at risk of getting it were found to have greater levels of two types of bacteria – including one known to cause chronic inflammation in the body. 

The findings, published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatology, suggest good oral hygiene could ward off harmful bacteria and the risk of the condition.

Lead author Johanna Kroese said the next step would be to see if targeting these bacteria, called prevotella and veillonella, lowered the risk of arthritis. 

Ms Kroese said: ‘Our research suggests that oral bacteria may play a role in triggering the onset of rheumatoid arthritis.

‘If this is the case, the next step for future research would be to see if the risk of rheumatoid arthritis can be lowered by targeting these bacteria.’

Rheumatoid arthritis affects almost one in 100 people in the UK, adding up to a total of more than 400,000.

It affects two to three times the number of women compared to men.

Researchers found similar levels of mouth bacteria in both people with the disease, and those at risk of it, who already had joint pain and high levels of antibodies which 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 saliva levels of Prevotella – some strains of which have been found to cause chronic inflammation similar to that seen in people with rheumatoid arthritis.

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

The arthritis patients in the study had all been diagnosed within the previous year, and it is possible that the condition disrupts bacteria in the mouth.

However experts suspect it is more likely that poor tooth-brushing allows harmful bacteria to flourish and to get into the bloodstream, causing inflammation which may help to trigger rheumatoid arthritis.

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