- Increased body mass index, percentage of body fat and waist circumference are associated with an increased risk to develop gum disease.
- The majority of people with gum disease don’t experience pain or notice any symptoms until they reach the advanced stage of the disease.
Gum disease is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the gums and bone supporting the teeth. It is more common than we think, and the majority of people don’t experience pain or notice any symptoms until they reach the advanced stage of the disease.
In the US, obesity and gum (periodontal) disease are on the list of the most common non-communicable diseases. Previous studies have shown that there is a correlation between these two chronic diseases.
A new study published recently at the British Dental Journal explores the effect of obesity on non-surgical periodontal care and evaluates potential pathways that may show the connection between the two conditions.
Andres Pinto, the co-author of the study and professor of Oral and Maxillofacial Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine, said that the connection between obesity and gum disease isn’t as simple as cause-and-effect. Instead, the relationship centers on what both diseases have in common which is inflammation.
Researchers found that data showing increased body mass index (BMI), percentage of body fat and waist circumference are associated with an increased risk to develop gum disease. 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.
“This information can inform how health-care professionals plan treatments for patients suffering from obesity and/or gum disease.”
“Oral health care professionals need to be aware of the complexity of obesity to counsel their patients about the importance of appropriate body weight and maintaining good oral hygiene,” he said.
Researchers say that further research is needed and “noting there is, at this point, limited evidence to recommend changes in treatment planning.”
Severe gum disease, also called periodontitis, can lead to tooth loss and other health problems. If you notice these signs, consult your dentist right away.
British Dental Journal, 2019; 227 (3): 235 DOI: 10.1038/s41415-019-0611-1