Can arthritis begin where you least expect it, in your mouth? You may never have connected arthritis pain in your hands, knees or feet to gum disease or toxic teeth, but new evidence shows that bacteria in your mouth may be linked to arthritis. Read on to find out how your teeth are connected to your hip joint, and every other part of your body. Does Arthritis Begin in the Mouth? A growing body of research is confirming that the bacteria in your mouth can actually move, or “translocate” to other areas of your body. In Arthritis Linked to Gingivitis Bacteria, Case Adams, Naturopath cites four studies that uncover links between bacteria in the mouth and arthritis. 1. Dentistry researchers from Germany's Martin-Luther University Halle-Wittenberg analyzed and compared the synovial fluid (the fluid inside the joint capsule) of 42 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and 114 people of the same age who did not have arthritis. [caption id="attachment_483" align="alignright" width="300"] Bacteria in your mouth can move to other areas of your body.[/caption] The researchers found that the patients with rheumatoid arthritis were 4.5 times more likely to have a specific type of bacteria, “Porphyromonas gingivalis bacteria” in their synovial fluid than the non-arthritic adults. They also found that missing teeth correlated directly with cases of rheumatoid arthritis: the more missing teeth, the more likely the patients were to have rheumatoid arthritis. 2. Researchers from New York University Hospital for Joint Diseases analyzed rheumatoid arthritis patients for links between gingivitis and arthritis, compared to people without arthritis. “The researchers found that the patients with arthritis had an increased amount of gingivitis bacteria exposure, notably of P. gingivalis. They also found that the worse the gingivitis infection and periodontal disease, the more severe the rheumatoid arthritis.” Their conclusion was that: "Patients with new-onset rheumatoid arthritis exhibited a high prevalence of periodontal disease at disease onset." 3. Research from Case Western Reserve University reviewed multiple studies and reports of arthritis linked to oral bacteria. The researchers found several types of bacteria implicated in "extra-oral translocation," or bacteria moving from the mouth to other locations in the body. 4. Researchers from the European University of Brittany and the University of Rennes discovered another oral bacteria which infects human gums also infect the joints of immune-suppressed people and causes arthritis. Periodontal disease and arthritis In Why Did Rheumatoid Arthritis Begin in 1800? Richard S. Panush, MD cites the research of Laura Kushner, a periodontologist, who worked with several researchers. They found a connection between periodontal disease and RA which share “oral pathogens that promote rheumatoid factors”. The researchers also found a unique microbial enzyme which has been identified as a susceptibility factor for RA. Mercury fillings in your teeth [caption id="attachment_484" align="alignright" width="300"] Dental amalgam is a source of mercury exposure, and can be a hazard to health.[/caption] The impact of mercury in dental fillings is a hotly debated topic. In an article by Birgit Calhoun: Dental AMALGAM and Mercury, for Stanford Education, she describes how mercury came to be used in dental fillings, and cites H. Sheffield, a dentist, who wrote an article Amalgam and Other Kindred Poisons in "The Dental Headlight", way back in 1896. Dr. Sheffield decries the use of mercury in dentistry and points to the chronic nature of mercury poisoning from amalgam: “Let me enumerate some of the poisonous effects of mercury on the human family. People with amalgam fillings in their teeth frequently suffer from mercurial rheumatism and other symptoms of that poison; in fact, some are walking barometers, and by their pain can foretell the weather.” Today, the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology has research that proves beyond a reasonable doubt that dental amalgam is a source of significant mercury exposure, and a hazard to health. How to get a healthy mouth and body If you’re concerned that periodontal disease or mercury filling may be contributing to your joint pain or arthritis, look for a “biological dentist. The word “biological” refers to life, and The International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine, or IABDM is a network of dentists, physicians and allied health professionals committed to caring for the whole person – body, mind, spirit and mouth. Their site states that biological dentistry is concerned with the whole body effects of all dental materials, techniques and procedures. The dentists use materials that are fluoride-free, mercury-free and mercury-safe, with a goal to sustain life or improve the patient’s quality of life.