People who have both gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis can relieve both conditions by treating their mouth infection, US researchers have found.
Patients who had treatments such as scaling and improved oral hygiene also saw their arthritis symptoms lessened. Gum care plus arthritis drugs was the best combination, the Journal of Periodontology study found.
Dental experts said the work supported previous research which found removing teeth could relieve arthritic pain. Gum disease is prevalent in people with rheumatoid arthritis - and vice versa. In both conditions, soft and hard tissues are destroyed due to inflammation caused by toxins from bacterial infection.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an incurable disease affecting mainly the small joints such as hands and feet, and affects around half a million people in the UK.
The researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine and University Hospitals of Cleveland studied 40 patients who had both moderate to severe periodontal disease and a severe form of rheumatoid arthritis.