hero image

Many people dread going to the dentist due to the fear of pain. However, a recent study by researchers at Rice University suggests that regular dental checkups can help prevent chronic joint pain later in life. The study reveals a strong association between good oral health practices and acute joint pain.

Periodontal diseases related to arthritis 

The project originated when Vicky Yao, a computational biologist at Rice University, came across bacteria traces linked to periodontal disease from samples of individuals with rheumatoid arthritis. Initially, Yao was uncertain of the significance of her discovery.

Today, Yao’s research has sparked a number of studies that appear to confirm a link between gum disease and arthritis flare-ups. Further research on this connection could pave the way for the creation of new rheumatoid arthritis therapies. Additionally, the approach used by the researchers in this study may prove useful in combating other diseases, including cancer.

According to a statement released by the university, Professor Yao believes that data collected from studies involving living organisms, cells, or tissue grown in Petri dishes is crucial in validating hypotheses. However, she also believes that such data may contain more information than we can easily derive from it.

Professor Yao’s hypothesis was confirmed when she closely examined data gathered from rheumatoid arthritis patients by Dana Orange, a clinical investigation associate professor and a rheumatologist, and Bob Darnell, an attending physician and professor at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Rockefeller University.

According to Professor Yao, Orange, and Darnell gathered data from arthritis patients regularly while monitoring the occurrence of flares. The goal was to retroactively analyze the data to identify patterns that could provide insights into the causes of arthritis flare-ups.

Yao is seeking to apply the approach to cancer

Yao has redirected her focus to cancer research since 2019. However, her experience of finding valuable insights from neglected data has motivated her to apply a similar approach to analyzing the health records of cancer patients.

According to Yao, there is hope that if they find interesting viral or microbial signatures related to cancer, they can identify promising research directions to follow.