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 "".

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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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Top Ways to Prevent GUM DISEASE:

  • Proper brushing and flossing

  • Using antibacterial toothpaste and mouthwash to kill bacteria

  • Biannual dental visits for cleanings and checkups