Obesity linked to gum disease | Shedding Pounds Can Improve Gum Health

More than 70 percent of Americans struggle with gum problems. From gingivitis, or simple gum inflammation, to periodontitis, an acute form of the disease, unhealthy gums lead to various health issues. Not only does gum disease lead to cavities and tooth loss, studies now link it to heart disease, stroke, preterm birth, and diabetes. Unhealthy gums can even contribute to knee pain in arthritic patients. More and more information seems to reveal the necessity of maintaining good gum health. In danger of only adding to the list of ways your gums and the rest of your body are related, a recent study shows that losing weight may battle gum disease. The study shows that obesity is linked to gum disease.

The Study and Results

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine discovered a link between fat cells that trigger inflammation and healthy gums. The study showed reduction of body fat can actually improve periodontal disease. Researchers conducted the study on a group of 31 obese people with gum disease. Half the group underwent gastric bypass surgery, while the other half did not. All subjects of the study were given nonsurgical periodontal treatment, including root planing, and general oral hygiene care at home. Interestingly, the gum health of those who received the fat-removing surgery improved more than those who did not.

Obesity links to gum disease: Two Theories

Excessive fat cells associated with obesity cause an increase in cytokine production

There are two theories for why this result occurred. Both relate to the production of a protein in your body called cytokine. Cytokines act as messengers between cells to regulate inflammatory responses. While these proteins are necessary for normal function, overproduction of cytokines can result in disease.

In the first theory, researchers argue that an excessive amount of fat cells cause the secretion of more cytokines. This has an adverse effect on insulin, making it more resistant to doing its job, which, in turn, improves the diabetic status of the patient and causes him or her to respond better to periodontal treatment.

Leptin and cytokine levels lowered with less food intake

The second theory is less direct but still relates to cytokine levels. Researchers saw a decrease in leptin production in subjects who received bypass surgery. The leptin hormone regulates metabolism and may increase the production of cytokine and the C-reactive protein, both of which cause inflammation. Because leptin levels were lower in those subjects who lost weight surgically, this may account for their better response to periodontal treatment instead.

Either way, the study is good news for everyone who suffers from gum disease. This is especially true for those predisposed to diabetes and insulin related problems as most of those subjects who received gastric bypass surgery saw a drop in their glucose levels after.

Learn more about the link between gum disease and obesity 

Gum disease is no laughing matter. The best course of action is always prevention. Contact our Lake Forest dental office at (847) 234-0517 if you have any questions about gum disease or would like to make a dental appointment with Dr. Fondriest.

Dr. Fondriest is a Nationally recognized and highly sought after cosmetic dentist. He serves clients from throughout the United States