Study explains link between obesity and periodontal disease

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New study explains link between obesity and periodontal disease

According to a recent study, obesity may lead to the development of periodontal disease owing to an increased number of cells that initiate bone degradation around teeth. (Image: TANAPAT LEK.JIW/Shutterstock)

BUFFALO, N.Y., U.S.: In a new study, researchers sought to gain a deeper understanding of the link between obesity and periodontal disease. They found that being overweight causes chronic inflammation, and this may trigger the development of cells that break down the bone responsible for holding the teeth in place. The researchers believe that the findings may help improve the understanding of certain chronic inflammatory bone-related diseases that develop alongside obesity, including common comorbidities such as periodontal disease, arthritis and osteoporosis.

It is well documented that bone loss is closely connected to periodontal disease and may lead to edentulism. Dental Tribune International has also reported on studies that found a link between periodontal disease and oral cancer, preterm delivery and Alzheimer’s disease. The disease can be costly, both financially and in terms of the human cost.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, periodontal disease affects approximately half of adults aged 30 years and older in the U.S., and the U.S obesity prevalence reached 42.2% between 2017 and 2018. Obesity and periodontal disease are some of the most common noncommunicable diseases in the U.S., and the correlation between the two conditions has been confirmed in some previous studies. However, the link between obesity and periodontal disease is still poorly understood, and the present study sought to provide some insight into the mechanisms that underpin the link.

In the study, researchers from the University at Buffalo in New York state examined two groups of mice who received distinct diets over the course of 16 weeks. According to the study, the first group was fed a low-fat diet that derived 10% of energy from fat, whereas the second group followed a high-fat diet that drew 45% of energy from fat.

A graphic demonstrating the link between obesity and increased bone loss around teeth. (Image: Keith Kirkwood)

The researchers later reported that the group that was fed a high-fat diet experienced obesity, higher levels of inflammation and a greater increase of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) in the bone marrow and spleen compared with the low-fat diet group. Additionally, the high-fat group lost more alveolar bone and had an increased gene expression tied to osteoclast formation as well as significantly more osteoclasts, which break down bone tissue.

Commenting on the findings, Dr. Keith Kirkwood, professor of oral biology in the University of Buffalo (UB) School of Dental Medicine, said in a press release: “Although there is a clear relationship between the degree of obesity and periodontal disease, the mechanisms that underpin the links between these conditions were not completely understood.”

Dr. Kyuhwan Kwack, who is a postdoctoral associate in the UB Department of Oral Biology, added: “This research promotes the concept that MDSC expansion during obesity to become osteoclasts during periodontitis is tied to increased alveolar bone destruction. Taken together, this data supports the view that obesity raises the risk of periodontal bone loss.”

The study, titled “Novel preosteoclast populations in obesity-associated periodontal disease,” was published online on Oct. 12, 2021, in the Journal of Dental Research.


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