Saturday, February 9, 2013

Does Being Fat Give You Gum Disease?

Can being obese increase your chances of getting periodontal (i.e. gum) disease? Well, according to an article published in the January/February 2013 issue of General Dentistry (a publication of the Academy of General Dentistry), there's an excellent chance it can.

"We know that being overweight can affect many aspects of a person's health," states 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." 

Although research involving the links between obesity and gum disease - a chronic inflammatory infection that impacts the surrounding and supporting structures of the teeth - it's becoming increasingly clearer that the two are definitely related. 

"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." 

While most people have heard that obesity is a significant health concern in the United States (roughly 1/3 of Americans are obese), what is not widely known is that gum disease affects over half of Americans age 30 and older. Thankfully, gum disease can be minimized, if not eliminated, by simply practicing daily brushing, flossing and seeing your dentist at least once a year and asking them to design a program of oral care to do at home that meets your specific periodontal needs.

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