According to a newly published study, obesity may be as big a factor in your outcome from gum disease treatment as smoking. Since smoking is one of the major risk factors for gum disease, this is a potentially big deal.

However, earlier studies seem to suggest that gum disease isn’t actually a risk factor for gum disease. How do we know how to interpret these findings?

New Study Links Obesity to Gum Disease

Journal of Dental Research a study looked at 260 adults who underwent nonsurgical periodontal therapy to determine what factors had the most impact on people’s ability to recover. They considered factors like age, smoking status, and body mass index (BMI). BMI was analyzed as both a continuous variable, and as distinct categories (normal, overweight, obese).

The results showed not only that BMI was a major factor in poor outcomes both as a continuous variable and by categories, but that it was about as serious as smoking in its impact.

Recent Data Suggests No Link

However, an earlier large population study found no link between obesity and gum disease. This study was published last year and based on a survey of more than 2700 Canadians aged 20-79, about 55% of whom were overweight or obese. Individuals were examined for periodontal disease and divided on the basis of weight, waist circumference, age, and smoking status. This study found that neither weight nor waist circumference were correlated with higher periodontal risk. Only age and being either a current or former smoker led to increased risk.

How to Bring These Two Studies Together

It’s sometimes hard to know how to draw conclusions from science, especially in an emerging area like this. However, in terms of these two studies, it’s relatively easy to consolidate them. The Canadian study looked at overall risk, based on a random survey of the population. The more recent study,  however, looked at people who were undergoing gum disease treatment and focused on recovery.

So, although gum disease may not be linked with your overall periodontal disease risk, it seems that it does affect your ability to recover, as it affects your ability to recover from surgery and injury. This means that weight control may be a good strategy for trying to improve the success of your gum disease treatment.

If you are currently suffering from gum disease and want to learn more about treatment, please contact Dental Excellence of Blue Bell in Philadelphia.