Aug 13, 2021 - minute readminutes read

Gum Disease and Obesity

Obesity has been implicated as a risk factor for several chronic health conditions such as diabeteshypertension and heart disease. It is also associated with periodontal disease.
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"Eat to live, not live to eat"

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Along with being associated with heart disease, diabetes, and even increased mortality, obesity is also associated with periodontal disease

Obesity is defined as having abnormal or excessive deposition of fat in the adipose tissue. Studies have shown that obesity can intensify infections such as periodontal disease. 

Firstly, abundant fat cells produce levels of cytokines which trigger a systemic inflammatory response as well as insulin resistance. As a result, the oral cavity, which is densely populated with bacteria, becomes susceptible to gum infection, which intensifies when the infected tissues produce their own cytokines.

Scientific Evidence

  • Due to an increase in oxidative stress which causes an inflammatory chain reaction that leads to periodontal disease, the consequences of obesity on general health are far-reaching
  • Younger people are particularly at risk for obesity and periodontal disease. Regular advice on healthy eating and regular exercise could help to prevent or halt the rate of progression of periodontal disease. 
  • Avoiding obesity by maintaining a body weight within normal ranges is important for well being, as obesity is a risk factor for hypertension, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, respiratory problems and some types of cancer (including endometrial, breast, prostate, pancreatic, kidney and colon) 
  • Obesity is also related to oral health conditions such as dry mouth, caries, and periodontitis
  • Following a healthy diet is crucial for preventing and reducing obesity
  • Studies have proven that a lack of physical activity is a major determinant of obesity
  • The severity of periodontitis in morbidly obese patients is associated with the increase of orosomucoid levels

What can dental practitioners do?


Key obesity prevention tactics include:

  1. controlling portion size and limiting total daily calorie intake
  2. regular exercise
  3. regular intake of wholegrain and fibre
  4. increased intake of fruits and vegetables
  5. reduction of sugar, particularly through drinks
  6. limiting fast food consumption

Advice on good dietary habits that help maintain both oral and general health could be included as part of routine preventive care check-ups for all patients.

  • Obese patients undergoing periodontal therapy will benefit from being encouraged to track daily food via apps or diary
  • Obese patients should be considered high risk for periodontal disease and receive additional check-ups along with specialist referrals and dietary advice

  • Energy intake is related to body weight and obesity, highlighting the importance of lower-energy diets and regular physical activity for body weight maintenance and for preventing obesity
  • Since periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease, foods that are known inflammation fighters are important for periodontal patients to include in their diets

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