Good Oral Hygiene May Help Manage Lupus

Dentistry Today

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Good oral hygiene may make a difference in preventing and managing lupus and other illnesses, according to researchers at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF) who have found a link between periodontitis and the autoimmune disease.

“Our findings suggest a simple message. If there is good dental care, patients have a good chance of experiencing less severe disease. With further research, we might be able to tell if proper oral health has the potential to help prevent these diseases altogether,” said OMRF scientist Harini Bagavant, PhD.

“Our study shows that patients who might have been exposed to gum disease-causing bacteria show higher lupus activity. Therefore, we expect that a seemingly small change, like brushing and flossing regularly, could benefit patients who are already on a host of powerful medications by allowing them to modify their treatment with fewer drugs or less powerful dosages,” Bagavant said. “And fewer drugs can mean fewer side effects.” 

The researchers believe their findings provide a strong rationale for improving dental care in lupus patients as an add-on to traditional therapy. The findings also could lead to new methods of early disease detection and have implications beyond lupus, which affects more than 1.5 million Americans, the researchers said. 

“Poor oral health can contribute to a number of diseases,” said OMRF scientist Umesh Deshmukh, PhD. “Taking care of your teeth now could help you avoid type 1 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and rheumatoid arthritis, among others.”

“It needs to be a priority to better educate people on the importance of good dental care,” said Bagavant. “These results indicate that just being seen regularly by a dentist, taking care of your gums, and managing plaque can benefit your health in significant ways over time.” 

The study, “Antibodies to Periodontogenic Bacteria Are Associated with Higher Disease Activity in Lupus Patients,” was published by Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology.

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