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OKLAHOMA CITY, U.S.: Good oral hygiene can obviate many diseases, including gingivitis, diabetes and hypotension. Now, new research suggests it may also make a difference in the prevention and management of lupus. In the study, the scientists focused on bacteria commonly found in the mouth that have previously been associated with gum disease.
Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientists, Drs. Umesh Deshmukh and Harini Bagavant have found a link between gum disease and lupus, an auto-immune disease that affects an estimated 1.5 million Americans.
“Our findings suggest a simple message, if there is good dental care, patients have a good chance of experiencing less severe disease,” said Bagavant. “With further research, we might be able to tell if proper oral health has the potential to help prevent these diseases altogether.”
She added: “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.”
Deshmukh said the new findings provide a strong rationale for improving dental care in lupus patients as an addition to traditional therapy. The research could also lead to new methods of early disease detection.
He emphasized that the findings could also have implications beyond lupus. “Poor oral health can contribute to a number of diseases,” said Deshmukh. “Taking care of your teeth now could help you avoid Type 1 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and rheumatoid arthritis, among others.”
The study, titled “Antibodies to periodontogenic bacteria are associated with higher disease activity in lupus patients,” was published in a Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology epub edition ahead of print on June 25, 2018.