Gum Disease Improves with Weight Loss

Is it true that losing weight helps gum disease treatment work better? Is there any relationship between body weight and gum disease? According to a recent study from Case Western Reserve University, the human body is better at fighting off gum disease when fat cells go away.

Understanding the Relationship Between Weight and Gum Disease

There are several reasons to keep your weight in check for your body type. Now, here’s another: Being overweight puts you at risk of periodontal disease, a group of serious gum infections that can lead to bone loss and other problems if left untreated.

Gum disease, which is typically the result of inflammatory diseases, is common in overweight people, according to a study published in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care. “There’s an increasing trend and a link with numerous comorbidities,” says the review.

A study in 2017 found that people who were obese had worse oral health than average-weight people. One hundred and sixty people were included in the research, and it was published in the journal Oral Diseases.

There seems to be a clear connection between being overweight and periodontal disease. But what does that mean for dental patients?

Studying the Effects of Weight on Gum Disease

A study examined 31 obese individuals with gum disease. Half of the group underwent gastric bypass surgery and received therapy for gum disease. The other half of the group only received therapy for gum disease. Both groups were given home care instructions. According to the research, both groups had improved gum health, although the group that had gastric bypass surgery improved even further on all measures of gum health.

Obesity and Inflammation

Yiping Han, a professor of microbial sciences in dental medicine at Columbia University said that it is commonly known among healthcare providers that obesity usually leads to inflammation in the body–something that has long been associated with gum disease.

Chronic inflammation caused by fat cells and gum disease can have a number of harmful effects on the body over time, including breaking down the gums and allowing harmful bacteria to enter the bloodstream. Oral bacteria have been linked to heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and pre-term birth. The researchers believe that weight loss may help reduce inflammation in the body and improve gum health, but more research is needed to confirm this theory.

Inflammation and Gum Disease

According to Salvador Nares, DDS, director of periodontics research at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry, obesity-related inflammation has been linked to immune system deregulation.

“Periodontal disease is an infectious, immune-mediated disease,” said Dr. Nares. “That means that obese people are going to be more susceptible to the bacteria that cause gum disease and the bacteria that cause cavities than other folks.”

The Dangers of Gum Disease

Gum disease, also known as Periodontitis, has been linked to a number of health problems, including an increased incidence of stroke and heart disease. It’s critical to have good dental hygiene and a healthy weight in order to minimize the risk of periodontal disease. According to research published in Oral Diseases, “the interplay between obesity and gum disease may raise the risk of cardiovascular illness in overweight or obese people.”

Gum disease, in particular, has been linked to tooth loss and perhaps rheumatoid arthritis. So, avoiding things like smoking, poor nutrition, diabetes, and yes, overeating are always smart ideas.

“The take-home message here is that the body is connected,” said Dr. Nares, “and the mouth, in many ways, is a window to a person’s systemic health.”

Getting Treatment for Periodontal Disease

If your gums are red and swollen or you bleed when brushing or flossing, you may have early-stage gum disease. These are all signs that you should see a dentist or periodontist for an evaluation.

If you have periodontal disease, your dentist will work with you to create a treatment plan. This may include quitting smoking, improving your oral hygiene habits, and undergoing a deep cleaning procedure called scaling and root planing. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat gum disease.

Maintaining a healthy weight is also important for preventing and treating gum disease. If you are overweight or obese, talk to your doctor about ways to lose weight in a healthy way. Eating a nutritious diet and exercising regularly can help you reach a healthy weight and improve your overall health.

If you have concerns about gum disease, reach out to Lee Family Dentistry to schedule an appointment online or by calling us at (301) 662-0300.


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