Further to the increasing acceptance of the problem of obesity in society comes the news from the United States that obesity is a risk factor in periodontitis. According to an article published in the January/February 2013 issue of General Dentistry, the peer-reviewed clinical journal of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), gum disease can be added to the list of health impacts for obesity, which already includes type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain forms of cancer.
“We know that being overweight can affect many aspects of a person’s health,” says Charlene Krejci, DDS, MSD, lead author of the article. “Now researchers suspect a link exists between obesity and gum disease. Obese individuals’ bodies relentlessly produce cytokines, proteins with inflammatory properties. These cytokines may directly injure the gum tissues or reduce blood flow to the gum tissues, thus promoting the development of gum disease.”
Half of the U.S. population age 30 and older is affected by gum disease, and figures are similar in Australia. Gum disease itself produces its own set of cytokines, which further increases the level of these inflammatory proteins in the body’s bloodstream, helping to set off a chain reaction of other inflammatory diseases throughout the body.
Research on the relationship between obesity and gum disease is still ongoing.
“Whether one condition is a risk factor for another or whether one disease directly causes another has yet to be discovered,” says AGD Spokesperson Samer G. Shamoon, DDS, MAGD.
“What we do know is that it’s important to visit a dentist at least twice a year so he or she can evaluate your risks for developing gum disease and offer preventive strategies.”
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