Losing Weight May Improve Dental Health

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The human body may be better equipped to fight gum disease when it doesn’t have as many fat cells.

The information comes from a Case Western University School of Dental Medicine study in which the research team analyzed data from 31 obese people with gum disease. Half of the people in the study had a body mass index of 39 and had gastric bypass surgery. The other half, which was the control group, had a BMI of 35 and did not have gastric bypass surgery.

Most of the people who underwent gastric bypass surgery saw a drop in their glucose levels after the procedure, something that was of interest to the research team.

Every participant in the study underwent some type of nonsurgical periodontal treatment of scaling or root planing, as well as oral hygiene instructions for care at home. Both groups in the study demonstrated improvement but the group that had surgery rated better on the tests for periodontal attachment, bleeding, plaque levels and probing depths.

There were two points theorized as to why the group that had surgery fared better on the tests. The first one is that an inordinate amount of fat cells would enable insulin to be more resistant to doing what it’s supposed to do because more cytokines are secreted. Therefore, the response to periodontal treatment doesn’t work as well as it should.

The second one involves the leptin hormone, which regulates a person’s appetite and metabolism. Leptin production decreases after bariatric surgery.

More research is necessary to see if there truly is a correlation between fat cells and a possible impact on gum disease.

Nabil Bissada, chair of the department of periodontics at Case Western Reserve School of Dental Medicine, led the study.