Periodontal Diseases

The Link Between Weight and Gum Disease


There are many reasons to maintain a healthy weight for your body type, including the fact that weight is often linked to other health problems. One of these health problems is gum disease, also known as periodontal disease.

Gum disease includes gum infections, ranging from gum inflammation to tissue and bone damage. If left untreated, these serious infections can lead to bone loss and other illnesses.

Here's what you should know about the relationship between weight and gum disease.

Weight and gum disease are linked in several ways.

Weight affects dental health

Gum disease can cause tooth loss. The gums may separate from the teeth, causing the teeth to become loose or the teeth to fall out of the mouth.

Being underweight is bad for your teeth. People who are underweight may be at risk for osteoporosis, a condition in which a person's bones may begin to break easily. Research shows that bone conditions may cause people to develop gum disease, reduce jaw bone density and lead to tooth loss.

author scientific report Research looks at tooth loss and body weight. Underweight people may be at higher risk for fractures and bone loss, research says. Researchers have found that some underweight people have fewer teeth, which may be caused by not getting enough essential vitamins or amino acids and eating an unbalanced diet.

As weight increases, more teeth will fall out. One study showed that people who weigh more have fewer teeth. Reduced smoking and good oral hygiene habits were associated with tooth loss in obese participants, the authors said.

Weight alters immune system function

Your immune system is another link between gum disease and weight. Infection causes the body's immune system to kick in, called an immune response. Inflammation is one of these reactions.

Health care providers know that obesity increases inflammation in the body, which has long been linked to gum disease, said Dr. Yiping Han, a professor of microbial sciences in dental medicine at Columbia University.. One study concluded that increased body fat due to obesity may signal an inflammatory response to the body.

Additionally, obesity-related inflammation has been shown to cause problems with the body's immune system, said Dr. Salvador Nares, director of periodontal research at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Dentistry.

“Periodontal disease is an infectious, immune-mediated disease,” adds Dr. Nares. “This means that obese people are more susceptible than others to the bacteria that cause gum disease and tooth decay.”

Inflammation and other conditions associated with obesity are also linked. “We know that inflammation is the root cause of many diseases—periodontal disease, cardiovascular disease, and many cancers,” Han explains. “Obesity is a risk factor for many of these diseases, so there is a natural link between the two.”

But losing weight may lead to less inflammation. According to one review, numerous articles indicate that weight loss (through diet or surgery) in overweight and obese participants reduces pro-inflammatory markers (such as C-reactive protein, or CRP) in the body.

A healthy weight varies from person to person, so you need to know what is a healthy weight for you.

A person's body mass index (BMI) can provide information about their weight in addition to being weighed from time to time. But BMI isn't the only tool for measuring weight and body fat.

Another tool you can use is waist circumference, which measures how much fat a person has around their belly. Higher fat content in this area has been linked to an increased risk of health problems such as obesity, heart disease, or diabetes.

Waist-to-hip ratio and waist-to-height ratio are other screening tools that can be used to help draw conclusions about weight. Like waist circumference, both measurements examine the location of body fat, which may be related to health risks.

A healthcare provider can also help you assess your overall health quality in terms of weight. They may use some of the tools mentioned above, as well as a physical exam and blood tests to determine if there is another medical reason for the weight change.

Other assessments a healthcare provider may perform include:

  • Skinfold thickness measurement
  • dietary assessment
  • physical activity assessment
  • family history assessment

When used together, the results of the tools and assessment can point you in the right direction for achieving a healthy weight.

Regardless of weight, a person may not be getting enough nutrients. For example, people who are underweight may be deficient in iron, folate, or vitamin B12. Studies have found that obese people may be deficient in vitamin D3, B-complex vitamins and thiamine.

What you eat and drink can have an impact on your oral health. Diets low in fiber and micronutrients are often linked to more oral disease, according to a research article. Additionally, bleeding gums and destructive gum disease may indicate that a person is not getting enough micronutrients, such as vitamin C.

Your oral health may also result in a reduction in the amount and type of nutrients you consume. Chewing problems due to dentures or dental implants may make it harder for you to eat different foods (such as carrots) that may contain nutrients you need (such as vitamin A). Studies have also found that people who experience tooth loss may not consume large amounts of fruits and vegetables, protein or vitamins C and E.

Therefore, in addition to weight management, nutrition is another aspect to keep in mind when improving oral health.

Here are some practices that can help you manage your weight and reduce your risk of gum disease.

Maintain good oral hygiene

There are many things you should do to ensure that your oral health is good. Some actions that need to be taken are:

  • Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste (twice daily)
  • Clean between teeth with floss or another interdental cleaner (such as Waterpik) (once a day)
  • Replace your toothbrush (every three to four months)
  • Balanced diet
  • Minimize snacks

It's also a good idea to schedule regular dental visits to monitor your dental health. Doing this and maintaining good oral hygiene is the best way to prevent most dental diseases.

Engage in healthy eating

When it comes to the way you eat, you need to focus on a healthy eating plan. Generally speaking, the plan should include:

  • fruits and vegetables
  • whole grains
  • Fat-free or low-fat milk and dairy products
  • Various protein foods
  • Foods low in added sugar, sodium, saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol

You also need to make sure you are getting the recommended amounts of the nutrients you need from your diet. It's important to note that some nutrients may be more helpful than others in preventing gum disease before it occurs. Some studies show that certain nutrients may prevent periodontal disease, including:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin C
  • calcium
  • zinc

But if you need help understanding how to get started with healthy eating and nutrition, consider talking to a health care provider or nutritionist. Your meal plan should also stay within the calorie range your body requires, which may vary based on your dietary needs or restrictions.


When it comes to physical activity and weight maintenance, the best goals are:

  • 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week
  • 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise per week
  • Combine the above types of exercise every week

If your goal is to lose weight, you may need to increase your exercise time unless you make changes to your diet. Additionally, everyone’s exercise needs will be different.

If you want to lose, gain, or maintain weight, you'll also want to talk to your health care provider to determine the amount of exercise that's best for your situation.

But the most important thing to remember? “The message here is that the body is interconnected, and the mouth is in many ways a window into a person's overall health,” Dr. Nares said.

There is a link between weight and gum disease. When your weight is too high or too low, your dental health may be affected. People who are overweight or obese may also experience inflammation because gum disease and weight affect the immune system.

Knowing what your healthy weight should be and how to measure it (i.e., not just using body mass index) is important to reducing gum disease. Maintaining good oral hygiene and eating a healthy diet are some examples of ways to help reduce weight and the risk of gum disease.

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