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Researchers find link between obesity and periodontal disease

By Dental Tribune International
December 10, 2019

CLEVELAND, U.S.: Obesity and periodontal disease remain the most common noncommunicable diseases in the U.S. A recent study has explored the effect of obesity on nonsurgical periodontal care and evaluated potential pathways that may illustrate the connection between the two conditions. The data confirmed a correlation between the maladies and could be used to inform treatment planning for patients suffering from obesity and periodontal disease.

According to Dr. Andres Pinto, co-author of the study and professor of oral and maxillofacial medicine and diagnostic sciences at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine, obesity and periodontitis are similar in that they are both caused by inflammation. After examining a wide range of existing studies, the researchers linked certain symptoms of obesity, namely increased body mass index, waist circumference and percentage of body fat, with an increased risk of periodontal disease. They concluded that changes in body chemistry affect metabolism, which in turn, causes inflammation.

“Periodontal disease occurs in patients more susceptible to inflammation—who are also more susceptible to obesity,” Pinto said. “Oral health care professionals need to be aware of the complexity of obesity to counsel their patients about the importance of an appropriate body weight and maintaining good oral hygiene,” he added.

Pinto believes that further research is needed to examine the relationship between the two diseases as there is currently not enough evidence to recommend changes in treatment planning.

“There is a thought, from the clinical perspective, that if you treat one of the issues, it may impact the other,” he said. “This is the big question. For example, if we treat obesity successfully, will this impact periodontal disease to the point of being of clinical relevance compared to control population. The jury is still out given the paucity of controlled, well designed, clinical trials on this issue.”

The study, titled “Review of obesity and periodontitis: An epidemiological view,” was published online on Aug. 9, 2019, in the British Dental Journal.

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