Link between Fat Cells and Gum Disease

Link between Fat Cells and Gum Disease

Obesity has been linked to health problems throughout the body, and the condition has now been connected to gum disease. This link highlights the importance of weight loss for preventing periodontal complications, such as tooth loss and infections. Here is a look at this connection and its implications.

What Researchers Found

To find out whether obesity and gum disease are linked, researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine looked at two groups of 31 patients with both conditions. Among one group, which had received both gastric bypass and abdominal fat removal surgery, researchers found better gum health than in the other group, which had not received any type of surgery related to their weight. Specifically, the group that received surgery had less plaque, less gum bleeding, and smaller periodontal pockets.

How Fat Cells May Impact Gum Health

The researchers do not yet know for sure why fat reduction is associated with better gum health, but they have two main ideas. One possibility is that insulin resistance is involved. Fat cells produce inflammatory molecules that promote insulin resistance, which is well known to cause periodontal problems. The other possibility is that the gastric bypass surgery lowered levels of leptin, a hormone involved in metabolism. This leptin reduction brought decreases in systemic inflammation, which can affect the gums.

Further research is expected to clarify how obesity and gum disease are related. In the meantime, patients who are obese may benefit from taking extra care of their gums with good oral hygiene and routine check-ups. Patients can schedule a consultation with our periodontist to have their gums examined for signs of gum disease.