Effect of Anti-Rheumatic Treatment on the Periodontal Condition of Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients

Menke J. de Smit, Johanna Westra, Marcel D. Posthumus, Gerald Springer, Arie Jan van Winkelhoff, Arjan Vissink*, Elisabeth Brouwer, Marc Bijl

*Corresponding author for this work

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Periodontitis, a bacterial-induced infection of the supporting soft and hard tissues of the teeth (the periodontium), is common in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). As RA and periodontitis underlie common inflammatory pathways, targeting the progression of RA might mediate both periodontitis and RA. On the other hand, patients with RA on immunosuppressive medication have an increased risk of infection. Therefore, the objective of this longitudinal observation study was to assess the effect of methotrexate (MTX) and anti-tumor necrosis factor-alpha (anti-TNF, etanercept) treatment on the periodontal condition of RA patients. Overall, 14 dentate treatment-naive RA patients starting with MTX and 12 dentate RA patients starting with anti-TNF therapy in addition to MTX were included. Follow-up was scheduled matching the routine protocol for the respective treatments. Prior to the anti-rheumatic treatment with MTX or the anti-TNF therapy in addition to MTX, and during follow-up, i.e., 2 months for MTX, and 3 and 6 months for the anti-TNF therapy in addition to MTX, the periodontal inflamed surface area (PISA) was measured. The efficacy of the anti-rheumatic treatment was assessed by determining the change in RA disease activity (DAS28-ESR). Furthermore, the erythrocyte sedimentation rates were determined and the levels of C-reactive protein, IgM-rheumatoid factor, anti-cyclic citrullinated protein antibodies, and antibodies to the periodontal pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis, were measured. Subgingival sampling and microbiological characterization of the subgingival microflora was done at baseline. MTX or anti-TNF treatment did not result in an improvement of the periodontal condition, while both treatments significantly improved DAS28 scores (both p <0.01), and reduced C-reactive protein levels and erythrocyte sedimentation rates (both p <0.05). It is concluded that anti-rheumatic treatment (MTX and anti-TNF) has negligible influence on the periodontal condition of RA patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2529
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar-2021


  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • periodontitis
  • treatment
  • anti-TNF
  • methotrexate

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