Dr. Jessica A. Rickert, DDS in Native Health. Discussion »
WASHINGTON Bacteria might link the mouth and the knee. Researchers looked at data on 36 patients with gum disease and arthritis of the knee. In about 15 percent, the researchers found that the fluid that lubricates the knee had bacteria with the same DNA as the mouth plaque.
The immune system may be weakened.
Dr. Nabil Bissada of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, suspects gum inflammation let the bacteria get into the bloodstream and wind up in the knee, where he thinks it could cause problems for arthritis patients. So he says:
“The easiest way is to minimize that risk by treating gum disease, or even better, preventing gum disease.”
The study in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology was supported by the National Institutes of Health.
Inflammation and infections in the mouth are caused by bacteria, viruses and other harmful organisms. These are swallowed constantly and can travel to other organs.
Everyday functions of the mouth also often force bacteria and viruses under the gums and soft tissues. Every day functions include eating, drinking, tooth brushing, flossing and really weird things people do with their mouths, such as open bobby pins, chewing toenails, and among other things.
When in the blood stream, the infectious agents travel throughout the body and can settle in many organs, causing inflammation, infection and possible damage. Any resultant effect is determined by the strength of the body's immune system.
Inflammation in the mouth causes the body's immune system to produce anti inflammatory chemicals. These circulate in the bloodstream, trying to reach the oral cavity. The entire body is affected by these chemicals, often in an adverse way.
When the immune system is fighting infections in the mouth, it is less able to fight inflammation elsewhere. It is "over loaded," so problems in the other parts of the body are not healed as quickly.
The immune system is beneficial, but can over produce anti inflammatory chemical; or the immune system may be possibly weakened. Every human and every circumstance is different and unpredictable.
How to avoid the above problems:
Dr. Jessica A. Rickert is a tribal member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation. She is the first female American Indian to become a dentist and is a graduate of the University of Michigan. In October 2009, Dr. Rickert was inducted into the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame. A resident of Interlochen, Michigan, she consults with Tribal and State government on Dentistry.
updated 11:53 am edt; posted June 12, 2012 7:20 am edt