Obesity Linked to Gum Disease

Thursday, 07 Feb 2013 04:59 PM

By Nick Tate

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Add gum disease to the long list of ailments tied to obesity.

A new study published in the journal General Dentistry found people who are overweight or obese are far more likely to have gingivitis — a chronic inflammatory infection of the gums that surround and support the teeth.

"We know that being overweight can affect many aspects of a person's health," said lead researcher Charlene Krejci. "Now researchers suspect a link exists between obesity and gum disease.”

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Krejci explained that obese individuals' bodies produce excess amounts of proteins with inflammatory properties known as “cytokines.”

“These cytokines may directly injure the gum tissues or reduce blood flow to the gum tissues,” she said, “thus promoting the development of gum disease."

Gum disease also produces its own set of cytokines, which further increases the level of the inflammatory proteins in the body's bloodstream, she added.

About one-third of Americans are clinically obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People who are obese run the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain forms of cancer.

Half of the U.S. population over 30 is affected by gum disease, which can be prevented by daily brushing, flossing, rinsing, and professional cleanings, to remove plaque from teeth.

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