The Link between Obesity and Gum Disease

The Link Between Obesity and Gum Disease
Posted on 12/22/2019
Obesity and Gum Disease

Gum disease, or Periodontitis, is one of the most common dental problems facing Americans today with over three million people diagnosed every year. While it is a common disease, it is also largely a preventable one, with many factors at play. New studies suggest that one of these factors, maybe obesity.

Gum Disease

Healthy gums are fundamental to having healthy teeth. Without a sturdy foundation, nothing can stand forever. While healthy gums are pink in color and fit firmly around the teeth, rarely bleeding or causing pain, gum disease causes the soft tissue damage and eventually spreads infection into the bone that supports your teeth. Not only can gum disease lead to the loss of your teeth, but some research suggests if the bacteria enters your bloodstream it can lead to respiratory disease, rheumatoid arthritis, coronary artery disease or stroke.

Some signs that you are developing gum disease include:

  • Bad breath that lingers and doesn't go away with brushing or mouthwash
  • Bright red or swollen gums
  • Tender, painful, or bleeding gums for everyday activities
  • Painful chewing or brushing
  • Loose or highly sensitive teeth
  • Receding gums or teeth suddenly appearing longer than they were

Although there are numerous different types of gum disease, the three most common variations to the disease are as follows:

  1. Chronic Periodontitis – The most common form of gum disease in adults and children, this form is a slow buildup of plague upon the teeth and is easily preventable and treatable if caught early enough.
  2. Aggressive Periodontitis – A rarer form of gum disease, this is often seen in family clusters and is quick to cause bone damage and even tooth loss.
  3. Necrotizing Periodontal Disease – Most often this form of gum disease is found in patients with suppressed immune systems such as HIV and cancer patients or people suffering from malnutrition, this gum disease results in the death of gum tissue and can lead to severe infection.


Obesity is a slow forming condition that happens over time and is different from being overweight. People who are overweight may have gained weight from fat, muscle, water weight, or bone density. Obesity can only occur from having too much body fat than is considered healthy for your height and health and can result in an increase in your risk of contracting

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Arthritis
  • Some forms of Cancer

In recent years, as many as 67% of adults living in the United States are reported to suffer from obesity with 34% of them having severe obesity. These numbers have tripled in the last 30 years alone.

Obesity and Gum Disease

Periodontitis is an inflammatory condition and people suffering from obesity have long been considered to be at high risk for developing such conditions. In short, both obesity and gum disease seem to share a similar condition, inflammation.

A recent study suggests that people suffering from obesity had nearly double the chance of developing Periodontitis whereas people with severe obesity had triple the chance. Fat cells increase chemical signals and hormones, affecting metabolism, which leads to an increase in inflammation. Inflammation decreases blood flow to the gums and can accelerate disease progression.

However, the connection between gum disease and obesity is not as simple as cause-and-effect, warns professor of oral and maxillofacial medicine, Andres Pinto. It may not be as simple as treating one condition and curing another, but more so is necessary to look at the larger picture of your general health of a patient when trying to address issues of gum disease. Obesity, along with smoking and poor dental hygiene, is one of many factors that may impact gum disease and should be considered when looking to prevent and address Periodontitis in a patient.

If you think you may be developing symptoms of gum disease it is important to call your dentist and make an appointment as soon as possible. Gum Disease is common, but preventable and many of the symptoms can be stopped with simple lifestyle changes as well as proper dental hygiene.