While some dental diseases may have isolated effects on the oral cavity, conditions like gum disease have been known to have links to other health issues, such as heart disease and Alzheimer's. If a patient is obese, he or she may have an increased risk of gum disease. Gum disease, or periodontitis, is a serious disease that can damage gum tissue, bone, and teeth. The good news is that gum disease can be prevented and treated. Read on to learn why gum disease is linked to obesity and how patients can manage the issue.
Why Does Obesity Lead to an Increased Risk of Gum Disease?
According to a review on researchgate.net, an increased body mass index and a higher percentage of subcutaneous body fat can increase the risk of periodontitis, a serious gum disease that can destroy the jawbone. Excess adipose tissue, or body fat, can affect the production of cytokines and hormones. Cytokines are secreted by certain cells to regulate the body's immune response and inflammation. However, when there is too much adipose tissue, too many cytokines can be released which can cause systemic inflammation. This systemic inflammation can make a person more prone to inflammatory conditions, like gum disease.
Another reason that obese individuals may be prone to gum disease is because of a poor diet. A diet full of sugar and highly processed foods can cause more free radicals in the body. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can build up in cells and increase the risk of certain diseases. Healthy diets that are rich in antioxidants could help reduce the buildup of free radicals and potentially reduce the risk of certain medical conditions, like gum disease.
Does Losing Weight Improve Gum Issues?
While weight gain may increase the risk of gum disease, sciencedaily.com reported a study that showed that losing weight could undo damage to the gums. Patients who lost weight showed more improvement in their plaque levels, periodontal attachments, and gum pocket depths than other groups. Losing weight can reduce cytokines and hormones, like leptin, which again, can be linked to systemic inflammation.
Understandably, weight loss and nutritional changes may be gradual; and it may take some time to see results. While losing weight may be the biggest help, the same study found that participants who improved their oral hygiene care and underwent scaling/root planing also saw improvements in their gum disease symptoms.
In short, at-home and in-office dental care are still beneficial for reducing the risk of gum disease and managing current symptoms in obese patients. You should reach out to your dentist and doctor for advice on how to improve your diet and for any recommended periodontal disease treatments.