Study Links Obesity to Higher Risk for Periodontal Disease

Losing excess weight or maintaining a healthy weight is important for your oral health.

Researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo have found that obesity is a significant predictor for periodontal disease, no matter what your age, sex, race, ethnic background or smoking history.

Researchers analyzed dental data from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), a series of periodic surveys that collect height, weight and other information on the Unites States population. A total of 12,367 participants, ages 20 to 90, without diabetes were analyzed; 43 percent of individuals were overweight.

Researchers say results suggest that insulin resistance mediates the relationship between obesity and periodontal disease and the severity of periodontal disease increased proportionally with increasing insulin resistance.

"People who have a higher body mass index produce cytokines that lead to systemic inflammation and insulin resistance," said Dr. Robert Genco, vice provost, State University of New York at Buffalo, and editor of the Journal of Periodontology. "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."

To learn more about periodontal disease and its effect on your oral health, visit the American Dental Association Web site at

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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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  • About 90 percent of people with mouth cancer and some types of throat cancer have used tobacco. The risk of developing these cancers increases as people smoke or chew more often or for a longer time.

  • Smokers are six times more likely than nonsmokers to develop these cancers.

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