Is Your Weight Affecting Your Smile?

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Over one-third of the U.S. population is obese. This worrying figure means that one-third of Americans are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers and other serious health problems. But now there’s even another reason to keep your weight down—and surprisingly, this one affects your pearly whites. According to an article published in the latest General Dentistry, obesity may be a risk factor for gum disease.

"We know that being overweight can affect many aspects of a person's health," says lead author of the article Dr. Charlene Krejci. "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."

Gum disease affects about half of the U.S. population over the age of 30. More than just some discomfort and swelling, the chronic inflammatory infection affects the teeth’s surrounding and supporting strictures. The disease produces its own set of cytokines, which increases inflammatory proteins in the body's bloodstream that can cause additional inflammatory diseases within the body.

More research will determine further information about the link between obesity and gum. "Whether one condition is a risk factor for another or whether one disease directly causes another has yet to be discovered," says Academy of General Dentistry spokesperson Dr. Samer G. Shamoon. In the meantime, your best plan of defense is removing plaque by brushing, flossing, rinsing, and visiting your dentist regularly. And don’t forget a healthy diet and regular exercise too.