Infection may be a rheumatoid arthritis (RA) risk factor. We examined whether signs of periodontal infection were associated with RA development in NHANES I & NHEFS.
Materials and Methods
In 1971–1974, 9,702 men and women aged 25–74 were enrolled and surveyed longitudinally (1982,1986,1987,1992). Periodontal infection was defined by baseline tooth loss or clinical evidence of periodontal disease. Baseline(n=138) and incident(n=433) RA cases were defined via self-report physician diagnosis, joint pain/swelling, ICD-9 codes (714.0–714.9), death certificates, and/or RA hospitalization.
Adjusted odds ratios (ORs)[95%CI] for prevalent RA in gingivitis and periodontitis (vs. healthy) were 1.09[0.57,2.10] and 1.85[0.95,3.63]; incident RA ORs were 1.32[0.85,2.06] and 1.00[0.68,1.48]. The ORs for prevalent RA among participants missing 5–8, 9–14, 15–31 or 32 teeth (vs. 0–4 teeth) were 1.74[1.03,2.95], 1.82[0.81,4.10], 1.45[0.62,3.41] and 1.30[0.48,3.53]; ORs for incident RA were 1.12[0.77,1.64], 1.67[1.12,2.48], 1.40[0.85,2.33] and 1.22[0.75,2.00]. Dose-responsiveness was enhanced among never-smokers. The rate of death or loss-to-follow-up after 1982 was 2–4 fold higher among participants with periodontitis or missing ≥9 teeth (vs. healthy participants).
Although participants with periodontal disease or≥5 missing teeth experienced higher odds of prevalent/incident RA, most ORs were nonstatistically significant and lacked dose-responsiveness. Differential RA ascertainment bias complicated the interpretation of these data.