Gum Disease Treatment Can Improve Obesity

Newberg community dentist

Gum Disease Treatment Can Improve Obesity


As patients of a Newberg Family Dentist, Dr. Jennifer McLeod know, the state of your oral health can significantly impact your overall health.

Obesity has been linked to poor gum health, according to a recent literature review on the relationship between gum disease and obesity. Additionally, treatment for gum disease seems to significantly reduce several biochemical biomarkers that have been linked to obesity.

For decades, research has continued to find links between gum disease and a variety of systemic disorders, including heart disease, stroke, dementia, and obesity. What links gum disease and obesity are that both are characterized by a dysregulated inflammatory state, wrote the research team from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro School of Dentistry.

Patients with obesity present a constant inflammatory state, which likely impacts their gum health and influences an increased growth of harmful bacteria on their teeth and gums. The purpose of this latest review was to explore recent literature to better understand the impact of obesity on gum disease treatment and whether treating a patient for gum disease could also improve the systemic biomarkers in obese patients.

Obesity Linked to Gum Disease

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determines whether a patient is obese using the body mass index (BMI). An individual with a healthy BMI is in the range of 18.5 to 24.9, with higher levels linked with categories such as “overweight” (25-29.9) and “obese” (30 and higher. However, critics suggest that BMI alone can be a misleading measure about a patient’s health status regarding their weight and that other factors, such as those related to fat distribution, can help to provide a more complete picture of a patient’s overall health.

In their review of the existing literature, researchers discovered that several measures of obesity correlate with the presence of bacteria that have been linked to gum disease. As an example, one study found that young adults classified as obese or overweight on the BMI scale carried higher levels of the bacteria Tannerella forsythia and Porphyromonas gingivalis when compared to individuals at a lower, healthier weight. Both of these types of bacteria have been linked to the development of gum disease, with Porphyromonas gingivalis being the primary culprit in the disease’s development.

Higher rates of severe gum disease were also noted in obese individuals, suggesting that such patients may have a harder time avoiding gum disease due to the “hyperinflammatory state” associated with obesity.

Gum Disease Treatment Linked to Improved Obesity

Another question posed by researchers was whether gum disease treatment can impact the biomarkers for obesity, which could improve an individual’s overall health.

Researchers determined that gum disease treatment alone was able to significantly reduce a number of obesity biomarkers associated with overall health. Two particular biomarkers showed especially notable results, RBP4, a plasma protein that hampers the body’s ability to process vitamin A, and TNF-a, a hormone that negatively affects the immune system and the body’s inflammatory response.

By reducing these two hormones in obese patients, gum disease treatment was found to be an effective option for treating a patient’s gums while also improving their overall health.

No Link Between Treating Obesity and Gum Disease  

Researchers also examined whether treating obesity could also help to treat gum disease. Unfortunately, the team couldn’t find any clear evidence that linked improved gum health to obesity treatments.

However, previous research has shown that patients can enjoy better gum health by improving their diets. For patients trying to lose weight, low-sugar diets offer an effective method for lowering the risk for gum disease and tooth decay.


If you have any questions about the impact your gum health can have on your overall health, or what a low-sugar can do for the health of your teeth and gums, feel free to ask Dr. McLeod, your Newberg Family Dentist, during your next visit.