More exactly, researchers have tested DNA in the bacteria that was found in the lubricating fluid of the joints, and they noticed that the fluid actually contains the exact same type of DNA that is existent in the plaque formed on the teeth. The examined dental plaque was coming from patients diagnosed with a certain form of gum disease, and most of these patients were waiting for joint replacement.
This particular study is led by researchers from the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Researchers from the University have led several studies in the past, where they linked the oral bacteria to different health complications. When these dental/oral bacteria enter the bloodstream, they start causing different general health complications, as suggested by the studies along the years.
The researchers reveled that one possible reason for which the artificial knee or hip joint starts loosening or completely failing within the first 8 to 10 years (while there is no infection present whatsoever!), is that these oral bacteria enter the bloodstream and cause the damage throughout time. This is a pilot study, and more research is needed in the field. The findings have been published in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology (April 2012 issue).
The basic aim of the study was to check out whether two types of oral bacteria, which can be found in patients with periodontal disease, are actually present in the synovial fluid of the patients with failed prosthetic joints or arthritis complications.
According to Dr. Nabil Bissada, chair at the Department of Periodontics at the school, the team of researchers have suspected long ago that the Fusobacterium Nucleatum and the Serratia Proteamaculans could be the culprits causing problems for patients with joint/arthritis complications. Until now however, there was not enough scientific evidence to support the statement.
The study involved 36 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, and the participants had both artificial joints and natural joints. Synovial fluid has been extracted from the joints, and since most of the patients were struggling with periodontal disease, the researchers also took dental plaque for further tests and evaluation.
The bacteria that cause the plaque buildup actually start breaking down the pocket walls (soft tissue) around the teeth. This is how the bacteria enter directly the bloodstream and start causing inflammation.
In 14% of the patients in the study, it has been noted a direct link between the bacteria found in the synovial fluid and the oral bacteria from the plaque. The researchers will continue developing this study, mainly because they need to find out if by treating properly and in time periodontal disease, can actually save the patient from a painful and costly joint replacement.