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A lot of research is focusing on the potential relationship between perio disease and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). If further research proves a link it may be, IMHO, one of the biggest breakthroughs in medicine and dentistry in a very long time. An article in the May 2009 issue of Compendium, authored by 2 MD's and a PhD, indicates that the perio pathogen, P. gingivalis is the only pathogen known to have an enzyme that catalyzes a reaction that leads to the cascade of events, culminating in the auto-immune process that destroys soft tissue and bone, typically seen in RA. Other research also indicates an association between these two disease by other mechanisms. Last week I had a patient with perio disease and RA. Previously in my career, I would not have known how to approach a patient like this. We now have so much more knowledge and tools at our disposal to treat these conditions. Stay tuned for more info on this patient, how I plan to approach her care and how it turns out. As always, I would love any and all input you may have.
Richard H. Nagelberg, DDS
Every patient, every time, any level of perio disease

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Comment by Mary Jane RDH BS on July 3, 2010 at 6:38pm
I had a patient who I recommended a perio work-up for years develop rheumatoid arthritis. I have always seen periodontal disease as a pre-cursor for auto-immune diseases..Thank you, Doctor, for having it make complete sense to me now.
Comment by Vicki Cheeseman on July 10, 2009 at 9:56am
I would imagine that in light of new associations between oral diseases and other physical illnesses, there will be more communication between dentists and physicians. That collaboration will assuredly help foster a better awareness of the importance good oral care has on total body health.

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