A link between gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) suggests that better dental hygiene can fight rheumatoid arthritis. What’s more, maintaining healthy gums may also decrease the condition’s progression and severity. Researchers at the University of Louisville discovered that the bacterium responsible for gum disease produces an enzyme that reacts with proteins in your body. The body then wages an attack on these proteins, and the results are catastrophic, chronic inflammation responsible for the destruction of bone and cartilage within your joints. It’s no surprise that gum disease is more prevalent in people with RA, according to previous studies. Scientists believe the link between healthy gums and the prevention of RA deserves more investigation.
In the meantime, you don’t need wisdom teeth to know that proper oral hygiene is the key to gum disease prevention. So follow these suggestions, and give your mouth something to smile about. Brush two times. A recent study found you could reduce plaque deposits by 67 percent and gum bleeding by 50 percent, just by dry brushing for one and half minutes before using toothpaste. Start on the inside of your bottom teeth, and then work your way to the inside of the top teeth. Next, hit the front of your teeth and then the flat surfaces of your big back teeth. Make sure to brush your gum line at a 45 degree angle so the bristles scrub underneath your gums. After dry brushing,
add toothpaste and give your teeth another scrub, then brush your tongue for 30 seconds. When you’re done, wash your toothbrush thoroughly, and tap it at least five times on the sink so any bacteria soaked debris falls off. Gargle frequently. Even if you can’t brush after a meal, cut down on mouth bacteria by 30 percent just by rinsing with water. Experts also suggest drinking at least seven glasses of water throughout the day. Water will help your body make saliva, and saliva swishes away bacterial toxins that cause periodontal disease. This is even more important if you’re an older adult since your mouth makes less saliva than it used to.
Floss regularly. If you want to take a bite out of gum disease, then you need to floss at least once a day. Wax or unwaxed floss will work fine, just as long as it doesn’t shred or break. If your teeth are especially close together, try floss made out of Gore Tex plastic. And if you have crowns, bridges, or other 
dental work, check out floss threaders, which act like a needle to thread floss through your dental work. A little 
toothbrush called a Proxabrush could also help, since it’s tiny enough to fit in the nooks and crannies that your bigger brush misses. Make a date with a dentist. Brushing and flossing can work wonders, but to guarantee a mouth free of gum disease, you need to climb into the dentist’s chair at least twice a year. He can scrape away the soft plaque before it becomes calculus, hard deposits of bacteria also called tartar.

Until tomorrow: My life is my message.

Dorothy Prats / [email protected]