Brushing and flossing daily could help ward off rheumatoid arthritis, according to a new study. Rheumatologists in Minnesota studied more than 6,000 people between 1987 and 1998. Everyone had at least four complete checkups during that time as well as a dental exam. The results showed that people with moderate to severe gum disease were three times more likely to be diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis during that time. Presumably the inflammation associated with gum disease is also linked to joint inflammation. The scientists conclude that regular dental checkups are even more important for rheumatoid arthritis patients and their relatives than for the rest of us.
[American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting, Oct. 2009]