THURSDAY, Aug. 9, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- A small study suggests that gum disease is four times more common among people with rheumatoid arthritis than healthy people, and it also appears to be more severe.
Researchers compared 91 adults with the condition to 93 similar healthy people. All were nonsmokers (smoking boosts the risk of rheumatoid arthritis), and none had been treated with arthritis drugs known as disease-modifying drugs.
The participants answered questions about the condition of their gums. They also underwent examinations, and their bodies were measured for signs of inflammation.
About two-thirds of those with rheumatoid arthritis showed signs of gum disease, compared to 28 percent of the healthy people.
"[Gum disease] is more common and severe in rheumatoid arthritis patients than in healthy controls ... and could be a potential environmental trigger in the [development] and also in the maintenance of systemic inflammation in [the disease]," the study authors wrote.
The study appears online in the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.
Although the study found an association between rheumatoid arthritis and the prevalence of gum disease, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
For more about rheumatoid arthritis, try the U.S. National Library of Medicine.