Are You Severely Overweight? You Could be at an Increased Risk for Gum Disease

A study in Current Oral Health Reports concludes that while obese individuals can benefit from periodontal therapies, the improvements in these severely overweight folks may be inferior to results achieved by individuals of normal weight. What absolutely links severe gum disease (periodontitis) to obesity isn’t clearly understood. Some studies point to higher rates of periodontitis in those individuals who are obese because of a “hyperinflammatory state” that’s associated with obesity.

What is Periodontitis?

While you may be more familiar with the term “gingivitis,” which references gum disease in its simplest form, periodontitis is gum disease in its most serious form. This disease can damage gum and jawbone tissue to the point that, if not treated, you can lose teeth. Usually (but not always) the result of poor oral hygiene, periodontitis symptoms can include:

  • Gums that feel tender, bleed easily when you brush or seem to recede from your teeth
  • Bright or dusky red/purplish-looking gums
  • Painful chewing
  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth or loss of teeth
  • New spaces between your teeth

What is Obesity?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines obesity as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health. The WHO consider someone with a body mass index (BMI) over 25 to be overweight, and those with a BMI greater than or equal to 30 to be obese. The organization estimates that the number of obese people has tripled since 1975. There are even “classes” of obesity, with class 3 recognized as “severe obesity. In a CDC report from 2020, the prevalence of severe obesity was highest in adults aged 40-59 as compared to other age groups. If your scale and the way your clothes fit don’t give you enough information, check out this BMI calculator from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Is Inflammation at the Root of the Issue?

Obesity is a medical problem that can increase the risk of many health issues and diseases like diabetes, heart disease and even certain cancers. If you exercise regularly and have tried to stop overeating, are eating less often and cutting carbs, etc., check with your medical professional to see if you might have a genetic component or medical condition, or are taking medications that could be causing you to tip the scales to such an extreme level. Your body, your wardrobe and your smile will thank you for your efforts!