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Obesity Leads to Gum Disease

Gum Infection More Common in Young Adults
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WebMD Health News

June 2, 2003 -- Many medical problems -- from heart disease to diabetes -- are linked to obesity. But now researchers have found that gum disease is also significantly more common in obese people.

A new nationwide study looks at the frequency of gum disease, also called periodontitis -- and shows that gum disease is significantly more common in obese young adults.

It's a much younger age group than is typical -- and likely a reflection of bad eating habits, writes lead researcher Mohammed S. Al-Zahrani, MDM, with the Centers for Health Promotion at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

His study is published in the Journal of Periodontology.

Periodontitis is an infection of the gums, bone, and tissues that surround and support the teeth. It is a very common cause of tooth loss, but it has always appeared in older people -- until recent years.

In their study, Al-Zahrani and colleagues analyzed the frequency of gum disease in more than 13,000 adults over age 18 who had recently been examined by a dentist.

They found that 14% of the people had gum disease. In fact, obese people had the highest likelihood of having gum disease -- but only in the age 18-to-34 age group.

The prevalence of periodontal disease is 76% higher among obese people in this age group, writes Al-Zahrani. Young adults with a wide waist have more than double the odds of developing gum disease than normal-weight people.

Children's diets probably play the greatest role in this leap in gum disease, Al-Zahrani states. Research of dietary trends in the 11-to-18 age group has revealed a significant decrease in raw fruit and non-potato vegetables -- sources of vitamin C -- as well as decrease in calcium intake. In addition, children were drinking more sodas and non-citrus juice.

Research has shown that obese people are also at higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, stroke, and other serious health problems.

How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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