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Study finds exercise can reduce risk of gum disease

Your daily jog or power walk not only helps your overall health, it can also have benefits for your gums, too, if you're a nonsmoker or a former smoker.

Researchers examining data collected through the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), a long-term national health survey, found that adults who followed government recommendations for physical activity were also less likely to have periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease is usually caused by plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on teeth. If plaque is not removed with thorough daily brushing and cleaning between teeth, gums become irritated and inflamed and can separate from the teeth and form spaces called pockets that trap bacteria. Left untreated, the process can continue until the bone and other tooth-supporting tissues are destroyed.

Data from a select group of study participants — nonsmokers or former smokers who exercised moderately five days per week, or vigorously three times per week for at least 10 years and had a periodontal exam — showed a significantly lower risk for periodontal disease. Nonsmokers had a 55 percent lower risk for periodontal problems and former smokers a 75 percent lower risk.

Data from smokers who exercised did not show a significant association for lower periodontal risk.

To learn more about preventing periodontal disease, visit the American Dental Association Web site at "".

Please contact the ADA if you have questions about this article.

©2010 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

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