Impacting approximately one-third of the U.S. population, obesity is a significant health concern for Americans. It’s a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain forms of cancer, and now, according to an article published in the January/February 2013 issue of General Dentistry, the peer-reviewed clinical journal of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), it also may be a risk factor for gum disease.
“We know that being overweight can affect many aspects of a person’s health,” says 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.”
Half of the U.S. population age 30 and older is affected by gum disease - a chronic inflammatory infection that impacts the surrounding and supporting structures of the teeth. Gum disease itself produces its own set of cytokines, which further increases the level of these inflammatory proteins in the body’s bloodstream, helping to set off a chain reaction of other inflammatory diseases throughout the body.
Research on the relationship between obesity and gum disease is still ongoing.
“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.”
The best way to minimize the risk of developing gum disease is to remove plaque through daily brushing, flossing, rinsing, and professional cleanings.
“A dentist can design a personalized program of home oral care to meet each patient’s specific needs,” says Dr. Shamoon.
KnowYourTeeth.com is the Academy of General Dentistry’s (AGD) source of consumer information on dental care and oral health. Its goal is to provide reliable information in a format that is easy to use and navigate, and to provide the tools that will help consumers of all ages to care for their teeth and with other aspects of oral care. KnowYourTeeth.com answers important dental health questions, offers the latest information on current dental treatments and tips for first-rate oral hygiene, and can help visitors find qualified dentists near where they live or work.
About the Academy of General Dentistry
The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) is a professional association of more than 37,000 general dentists dedicated to providing quality dental care and oral health education to the public. AGD members stay up-to-date in their profession through a commitment to continuing education. Founded in 1952, the AGD is the second largest dental association in the United States, and it is the only association that exclusively represents the needs and interests of general dentists. A general dentist is the primary care provider for patients of all ages and is responsible for the diagnosis, treatment, management, and overall coordination of services related to patients’ oral health needs. For more information about the AGD, visit agd.org. The AGD is a member of the Partnership for Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives, a first-of-its-kind national dental coalition composed of 35 leading dental health organizations. The Partnership’s campaign is designed to educate parents and caregivers on how to improve their children’s oral health in simple ways.
Academy of General Dentistry