Link between obesity and gum disease

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obesity and gum disease

A new study from the US shows that obesity and gum (periodontal) disease may be related. 

The study—published in the British Dental Journal—explores the effect of obesity on non-surgical periodontal care and evaluates potential pathways that may illustrate the connection between the two conditions.

The connection between obesity and gum disease isn’t as simple as cause-and-effect, said Andres Pinto, professor of oral and maxillofacial medicine and diagnostic sciences at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine and co-author of the study. Instead, the relationship centres on what both diseases have in common: inflammation.

Examining a plethora of existing studies, researchers found data showing increased body mass index, waist circumference and percentage of body fat to be associated with an increased risk to develop periodontitis. 

Most studies analysed data from population subsets at one point in time, as opposed to studying the same population over a longer period.

They concluded that changes in body chemistry affect metabolism, which, in turn causes inflammation—something present in both maladies.

“Periodontal disease occurs in patients more susceptible to inflammation—who are also more susceptible to obesity,” Pinto said.

“Oral healthcare professionals need to be aware of the complexity of obesity to counsel their patients about the importance of an appropriate body weight and maintaining good oral hygiene.”

Pinto said further research on the relationship between gum disease and obesity is needed, noting there is, at this point, limited evidence to recommend changes in treatment planning.

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