Analysis of oral dysbiosis in individuals sharing genetic and environmental risk factors with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients may illuminate how microbiota contribute to disease susceptibility. We studied the oral microbiota in a prospective cohort of patients with RA, first-degree relatives (FDR) and healthy controls (HC), then genomically and functionally characterised streptococcal species from each group to understand their potential contribution to RA development. After DNA extraction from tongue swabs, targeted 16S rRNA gene sequencing and statistical analysis, we defined a microbial dysbiosis score based on an operational taxonomic unit signature of disease. After selective culture from swabs, we identified streptococci by sequencing. We examined the ability of streptococcal cell walls (SCW) from isolates to induce cytokines from splenocytes and arthritis in ZAP-70-mutant SKG mice. RA and FDR were more likely to have periodontitis symptoms. An oral microbial dysbiosis score discriminated RA and HC subjects and predicted similarity of FDR to RA. Streptococcaceae were major contributors to the score. We identified 10 out of 15 streptococcal isolates as S. parasalivarius sp. nov., a distinct sister species to S. salivarius. Tumour necrosis factor and interleukin 6 production in vitro differed in response to individual S. parasalivarius isolates, suggesting strain specific effects on innate immunity. Cytokine secretion was associated with the presence of proteins potentially involved in S. parasalivarius SCW synthesis. Systemic administration of SCW from RA and HC-associated S. parasalivarius strains induced similar chronic arthritis. Dysbiosis-associated periodontal inflammation and barrier dysfunction may permit arthritogenic insoluble pro-inflammatory pathogen-associated molecules, like SCW, to reach synovial tissue. © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2021. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.