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Healthy Weight, Better Gums?

Active Lifestyle, Good Diet, Healthy Weight Tied to Better Oral Health
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Aug. 24, 2005 -- Losing extra pounds, revving up physical activity, and eating nutritious foods may give you a new reason to smile.

Healthy teeth and gums are more common in active people who eat nutritiously and aren't overweight, a new study shows.

The study appears in the Journal of Periodontology. It was conducted by researchers including Nabil Bissada, DDS, chairman of the periodontics department at Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine.

Healthy Body, Healthy Mouth

Data came from a national health survey of more than 12,000 people. The findings:

  • Having all three traits -- normal weight, good diet, active lifestyle -- cut gum disease risk by 40%.
  • Having two of those habits cut gum disease risk by 29%.
  • Having one of those healthy habits cut gum disease risk by 16%.

Gum disease was rarest among people with all three traits. Only 7% of them had gum disease, compared with 18% of those with none of those traits.

Benefits for the Mouth

Why did the mouth mirror overall health? The researchers note these possibilities:

  • Healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables may help clear plaque off teeth.
  • Obesity may promote inflammatory chemicals linked to gum disease.
  • Physical activity may cut inflammation, helping the entire body (including the mouth).

Go-for-It Goals

Here's how the researchers defined their terms:

  • Moderate-intensity physical activity at least 5 times per week or vigorous intensity activity at least 3 times per week
  • Normal BMI (body mass index) of 18.5 to 24.9
  • High score on an index of healthy foods eaten over the past day

Moderate-intensity physical activity would include activities such as walking at a moderate or brisk pace of 3 to 4.5 miles per hour on a level terrain. Vigorous-intensity physical activity includes race walking or aerobic walking at 5 miles per hour or greater, jogging, or running. According to the CDC, in general activities in the moderate-intensity range would require 25-50 minutes to expend a moderate amount of activity, and activities in the vigorous-intensity range would require less than 25 minutes to achieve a moderate amount of activities.

Participants reported their own weight, activity level, and food habits. That leaves a little wiggle room about accuracy. Plus, the study was a one-time snapshot, not a long-term look at health.

Still, the basics -- move more, ditch excess weight, and make good food choices -- are widely recommended as staples of a healthy life.

Brushing and flossing your teeth may also boost your heart health,boost your heart health, as researchers reported in February.

How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Answer:
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(4-6)
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You are currently

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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