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There are plenty of reasons to keep your waistline trim…now here’s another one: A new study published in the journal Oral Diseases found that overweight people had worse oral health than their normal-weight peers, with obese people having a nearly six-fold higher risk of severe periodontal (gum) disease. Overweight or obese means weight that is higher than what is considered as a healthy weight for a given height. Body Mass Index (BMI) is used as a screening method to determine whether an individual is overweight or obese.
BMI is a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters. If this sounds complicated (it does to me), here is a cheat sheet you can use to determine your BMI. A high BMI can be considered an indicator of a high level of body fat.
- A BMI of less than 18.5 is considered in the underweight range.
- A BMI of 18.5 to <25 is considered in the normal range.
- A BMI of 25.0 to <30 is considered in the overweight range.
- A BMI of 30.0 or higher is considered to fall in the obese range.
What is periodontal disease again?
Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection that affects the tissues surrounding and the bone supporting the teeth. Here are the warning signs. Not only is periodontal disease a major cause of tooth loss, it is also linked to other diseases. Increased risks of heart disease and stroke, diabetes, respiratory disease, and even premature births have been linked to periodontal disease.
So how does obesity affect periodontal disease?
For a long time overweight and obese adults have been considered to be at high risk for many chronic inflammatory diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. A recent study showed that overweight individuals had double the incidence of gum disease while obese individuals had triple the incidence. It is now known that fat cells produce many chemical signals and hormones and that many of these substances are thought to increase overall inflammation in the body. This may lead to a lowering of immunities which increases the susceptibility to gum disease. The inflammation may also decrease blood flow to the gums and cause the disease to get worse.
That sounds complicated! What’s the bottom line?
Brilliant Smiles is a Complete Health Dentistry practice. That means we focus on overall health as well as dental health. Obesity and gum disease significantly affect overall health and understanding this relationship is important. With the increasing rate of child and adolescent obesity, increased occurrence of periodontal disease is likely to follow.
Remind me what I can do to prevent periodontal disease.
- Take care of your mouth. That means regular brushing, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash.
- Maintain good overall health. Focus on a healthy balanced diet: Fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and plenty of water. Try to avoid sticky, sugary snacks. Regular exercise never hurt anybody! And…We can’t repeat it enough…STOP SMOKING!
- Stay on track with your visits to the dental office. Your hygienist and dentist can catch the early signs of periodontal disease before it turns into a major issue.
- Visit your doctor. Gum disease occurs in the mouth but there are many medications that can increase your risk of getting it. And some medical conditions can increase that risk. So talk to your doc about non-dental risk factors.
It’s important to mention that the study could not show a direct “cause-and-effect’ relationship between gum disease and obesity. However, it should sound the alarm about another potential drawback of packing on those extra pounds (besides fitting into that summer bathing suit.)
Until next time!
Information for this article came from the following sources:
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