a few words about gum disease.

March 15, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Posted in being fat | Leave a comment

In addition to struggling with my weight, I also struggle with gum disease.  It’s not horrible where I’m losing teeth (yet) or anything but I do have to go to the dentist more frequently for cleanings and have to be pretty diligent about flossing.  (I had to have root scaling and planing a year or so ago [at 23!!] and it was painful enough that I vowed to floss every day for the rest of my life.  Haha.)

It never ever occurred to me that the gum disease and weight problems could be connected.  I know I know, another thing that obesity increases your risk of having but this one can cause some pretty serious stuff!

What’s so serious about gum disease?  Remember how your parents always told you that eating too much candy would make your teeth fall out.  Turns out, it’s true!  (Side note: dentists don’t think it’s funny to tell them that you want them all to fall out so that you can start over anew).  On the less serious side, it can also cause bad breath, excessive bleeding, sensitivity, pain, etc.  Most recently, a study was released that said pregnant women with gum disease are more likely to have premature births.

So what’s the link with obesity?  In a study that found obese 18-34 year olds to be more likely to have gum disease, it is theorized that the same eating habits that contribute to obesity also contribute to gum disease as the sugars in some foods can stay in your mouth and cause bacteria and plaque to form.  Another theory links insulin resistance and gum disease:

“People who have a higher body mass index produce cytokines (hormone-like proteins), that lead to systemic inflammation and insulin resistance,” said Robert J. Genco, vice provost at the University at Buffalo and editor of the JOP. “We propose that chronic stimulation and secretion of proinflammatory cytokines associated with periodontal infection also occurs, contributing to insulin resistance, which may further predispose to diabetes mellitus.”

Yet another set of theories links heart disease and gum disease.  One being that the same plaque build-up on your teeth can enter your bloodstream and cause your arteries to swell.  Another being that the bacteria from your mouth can enter your bloodstream and attach to the plaque in your coronary arteries.

And, as someone that struggles with gum disease, lemme just tell you that it blows!  Here are some warning signs to be aware of (from the American Academy of Periodontology):

  • Red, swollen or tender gums or other pain in your mouth
  • Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or eating hard food
  • Gums that are receding or pulling away from the teeth, causing the teeth to look longer than before
  • Sores in your mouth
  • Persistent bad breath
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite

To see if you’re at risk, visit the American Academy of Periodontology website to take a risk assessment or talk to your dental provider.


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