Arthritis patients might alleviate some of their pain, morning stiffness and swollen joints by treating active gum disease, according to researchers at Case School of Dental Medicine in Cleveland.

Researchers studied 40 patients with moderate to severe periodontal disease and a severe form of rheumatoid arthritis. Study participants were divided into four groups. One group received medications that blocked production of a specific toxin found at inflamed rheumatoid arthritis sites; the second group received medications plus nonsurgical periodontal treatment to clean and remove infection from bones and tissues in the gums; the third group had nonsurgical treatment only and the last group did not receive any treatment until after the study.

Patients who received nonsurgical treatment, either with or without medications, responded with improvements in their arthritis symptoms.

Oral care may also be more difficult for people with special health concerns, including arthritis. People with dexterity problems may find it difficult to hold onto a toothbrush or dental floss.

The ADA recommends a few “home remedies” for easier oral health care, including using a wide elastic band to attach a toothbrush to the hand; enlarging the brush handle by attaching a sponge, rubber ball or bicycle handle grip or winding an elastic bandage or adhesive tape around the handle; lengthening the handle with a ruler, popsicle stick or tongue depressor; tying floss in a loop for easier handling; and using an electric toothbrush or commercial floss holder. For more dental care tips for people with special needs or information on the connection between oral health and overall health , log on to

Curated by Nima Dayani of Endodontics, Oral Surgery and Dental Implants Rehabilitation of New York City