The link between obesity and periodontal disease

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The link between obesity and periodontal disease

Studies have found that obesity is a predictor for periodontal disease and that maintaining a healthy body weight can benefit your oral health.

It’s no secret that our oral health is connected to our overall wellness, and now studies have revealed that there is a link between obesity and periodontal disease. Researchers in the United States analysed dental data of over 12 000 participants between the ages of 20 and 90, 43 percent of whom were overweight. Read on to find out what the study found…

What did the study find?

According to the researchers who conducted the study at the State University of New York at Buffalo, the severity of periodontal disease increased with increasing insulin resistance. They found that those individuals with a high body mass index produced cytokines, which lead to systemic inflammation, as well as insulin resistance.

What is the effect of obesity on periodontal disease?

Adults with obesity are considered to be at risk of a number of serious health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes and arthritis. Now, according to the new research, obesity appears to also be an independent risk factor for periodontal disease, even when other risk factors like smoking and age are controlled. In fact, researchers believe that individuals with a high body mass index are twice as likely to develop gum disease, while those with severe obesity are three times as likely to develop the condition when compared with individuals with a healthy body weight.

According to research, fat cells produce both hormones and chemical signals, some of which tend to increase inflammation in the body. When overall inflammation is increased, it is possible for immunity to decrease, which in turn increases one’s susceptibility to periodontal disease. Inflammation also tends to decrease the flow of blood to the gums and can cause gum disease to progress further.

What is periodontal disease, exactly?

Periodontal disease is actually a chronic bacterial infection. It affects the tissues and bones that surround and support the teeth. The early form of the condition is known as gingivitis. Although periodontal disease does not always cause symptoms, particularly in the early stages, there are some warning signs associated with the condition. These include bleeding, swollen and tender gums; persistent bad breath; a bad taste in the mouth; receding gums; changes in the alignment of the teeth; and loose teeth.

What causes periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease occurs when plaque is left to build up on the teeth and along the gum line. Plaque contains bacteria, and when it is not removed from the teeth, it hardens and becomes tartar (calculus), which causes inflammation in the mouth. Inflammation of the gums can cause the tissue to recede from the teeth, often causing spaces between the teeth and gums that are prone to infection. As periodontal disease worsens over time, these spaces become deeper, and the gum tissue and bone deteriorate more and more over time. This can cause the teeth to feel loose, and in some cases, tooth loss may occur.

How can we help?

One of the best things you can do for your oral health is to come in and see us for regular oral examinations. We suggest that you come in for a dental check-up and clean every six months. During a full oral examination, your dentist will assess your oral health by checking the condition of your gums and other soft tissues; your tooth-to-tooth and jaw-to-jaw relationships; any lifestyle issues; and your general health and medical history. To find out more about what to expect at a dental check-up and clean, please have a look here.

Your own oral health routine is also a very important element when it comes to preventing gum disease and other oral health issues. Brushing, flossing and using a dental mouthwash daily are all important aspects of maintaining an effective daily health care routine. For tips on keeping your teeth healthy and clean, please have a look here.

If you would like some advice about your lifestyle and oral health, or are ready for a check-up, please don’t hesitate to get in touch to make an appointment.

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