Can Losing Weight Help Me Fight Gum Disease?

The latest research is suggesting so. Researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine have found the body is better able to fight off gum disease when it has fewer fat cells as these cells can trigger inflammation. The findings come from a pilot study of 31 obese people who had an average body mass index (BMI) of 39 and who were also suffering from gum disease. Half of the group underwent gastric bypass surgery and had fat cells removed from the abdomen, while the control group did not undergo surgery or have any fat removed.

Both groups were treated for their gum disease using a combination of appropriate nonsurgical periodontal treatments. These included scaling and root planing and improved daily oral hygiene routines. Although both groups showed improvement, those who had undergone surgery fared better on plaque levels, bleeding and measures for periodontal attachment. One thing which fascinated the researchers was that the glucose levels dropped in the group who underwent surgery and who had fat cells removed, as this finding could be significant for overweight people at risk of developing diabetes or insulin related problems.

There are two theories as to why this should occur. The first theory relates to the fact that excessive fat cells secrete more cytokines, increasing the risk of insulin resistance. This can result in hyperglycemia as the blood sugar levels rise, but weight loss helps to make insulin less resistant, improving the diabetes and increasing the response to periodontal treatment.

Another theory centres on a hormone that regulates appetite and the metabolism, leptin. This hormone has been linked to inflammation as it also increases the production of cytokines as well as the –C- reactive protein. According to Nabil Bissada, who was the lead author of the study, leptin production is reduced after bariatric surgery and could be one reason for the improved outcome of periodontal treatment. Obviously this is just a preliminary study, and the researchers are looking towards conducting a longitudinal study to support these findings.

The effects of inflammation within the body are already well-known, and gum disease causes open wounds in the mouth allowing oral bacteria to enter the bloodstream. Oral bacteria have been linked to heart disease, arthritis and preterm births. These latest findings seem to be yet more proof of the connection between a healthy body and a healthy mouth, and provide even more incentive to try to stick to that diet.

Source:  Nabil F. Bissada, Alan Saber, Leena Khaitan, Leena Palomo, Sena Narendran, Mohammad S. Al-Zahrani.Response to Periodontal Therapy in Subjects Who Had Weight Loss Following Bariatric Surgery and Obese Counterparts: A Pilot Study. Journal of Periodontology, 2011; 1 DOI: 10.1902/jop.2011.110230

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One Response to “Can Losing Weight Help Me Fight Gum Disease?”

  1. Losing weight can help gum disease. Especially because eating a proper diet helps keep healthy gums, and proper food helps to maintain proper weight.

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