CHICAGO—August 2, 2010—The health complications of being overweight, such as increased risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and certain cancers, have long been reported. Health care professionals often urge patients to manage their weight and strive to get physical exercise each day to achieve and maintain overall health. And now, researchers have now uncovered another benefit of maintaining a fit lifestyle: healthy teeth and gums.
In a study published in the August issue of the Journal of Periodontology, researchers found that subjects who maintained a healthy weight and had high levels of physical fitness had a lower incidence of severe periodontitis. Using body mass index (BMI) and percent body fat as a measure of weight control, and maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) as a measure of physical fitness, researchers compared subjects’ weight and fitness variables with the results of a periodontal examination. Those with the lowest BMI and highest levels of fitness had significantly lower rates of severe periodontitis.
Periodontitis, or gum disease, is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the supporting bone and tissues around the teeth. Gum disease is a major cause of tooth loss in adults, and research has suggested gum disease is associated with other diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Samuel Low, DDS, MS, Associate Dean and professor of periodontology at the University of Florida College of Dentistry, and President of the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), says that research connecting overall health and periodontal health should motivate people to maintain a healthy weight and get enough physical fitness.
“Research continues to demonstrate that our overall health and oral health are connected,” says Dr. Low. “Weight management and physical fitness both contribute to overall health; and now we believe staying in shape may help lower your risk of developing gum disease. Since gum disease is related to other diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” continues Dr. Low, “There is even more reason to take care of yourself through diet and exercise.”
Dr. Low also encourages comprehensive periodontal care through daily tooth brushing and flossing, and routine visits to a dental professional, such as a periodontist, a specialist in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of gum disease.