Being Fit Enhances Oral Health, Too!

Posted on Jan 13, 2015 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

If your New Year’s Resolution to get fit is starting to lose steam, here is added incentive to continue – your SMILE!

A study showed that 63.1% of adults in the U.S. were either overweight or obese, with 36.6% as overweight and 26.5% obese. It is widely known that being overweight puts a strain on the heart, joints, and one’s ability to enjoy good overall health.

Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine researchers found indications that the risk of gum disease lowers when fat cells decrease. The study measured participants who were obese, with some of the participants undergoing bariatric surgery. All participants were given periodontal treatment along with oral hygiene instructions to follow at home. While both groups showed improvement, the surgery group showed the most favorable results.

Why? An overabundance of fat cells secrete more cytokines, which make insulin more resistant to proper effectiveness in the body. Thus, more sugar in the blood occurs. A reduction in fat cells makes insulin less resistant and aids in the response to periodontal treatment.

Another benefit relates to how the leptin hormone helps to regulate metabolism. Along with cytokines, leptin has been linked to inflammation. Because leptin production was reduced after bariatric surgery, periodontal treatment was shown to be more effective.

Inflammation from gum disease can erode bone and cause tooth loss. It also makes harmful oral bacteria easier to enter the blood stream. This bacteria has been linked to preterm birth, preterm births, diabetes and arthritis.

So, if that stationary bike is starting to look like a clothes rack again, rethink your commitment and know you’re giving your smile’s health an added boost!


As your dentist, this shows how intricately your oral health is tied to your overall health, and vice versa. Maintaining healthy gums and keeping your teeth in good condition prevents harmful bacteria from causing inflammation in the body. By the same token, having a healthy body seems to create a better foundation for the gums to battle harmful bacteria when it appears.

Recent Posts