The chronic diseases, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and periodontal disease (PD) lead to
confined destruction of soft and hard tissues as a result of inflammatory processes. Their pathogenesis
is dictated by a network of inflammatory cells and its mediators. They also share some
etiological risk factors and therapeutic alternatives. The evolution of focal infection theory is
summarized in this review, with special reference to PD and its relationship to RA. Foci of
chronic infections exist in the oral cavity and may result in anatomically distant disease in certain
individuals. Recent cumulative evidences document the influence of inflammatory diseases such
as RA on the development of PD. Historical evidences and new theories on the interrelationship
between the two diseases have the potential to identify novel mechanisms and therapy to improve
patient outcomes. This review focuses on not only the association of focal infection theory and
RA, but also on the reciprocal effects of RA and PD.
Keywords: Focal infection, periodontal disease, rheumatoid arthritis, risk factors.
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