Your waistline could have an effect on your oral health, a new review of studies suggests.
Research published in the journal General Dentistry shows an association between obesity and gum disease (also known as periodontitis), though whether one causes the other -- or vice versa -- has yet to be determined.
But researchers do think that a possible reason for this association is that "obese individuals' bodies relentlessly produce cytokines, proteins with inflammatory properties," study researcher Charlene Krejci, DDS, MSD, who is an associate clinical professor in periodontics at Case Western Reserve University, said in a statement.
"These cytokines may directly injure the gum tissues or reduce blood flow to the gum tissues, thus promoting the development of gum disease," Krejci said.
Periodontitis occurs when the gums become inflamed or infected, which then spreads to other parts of the mouth responsible for keeping teeth in place. When this occurs, the teeth can more easily come out -- in fact, periodontitis is the main reason why people lose their teeth, according to the A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia.
According to the study, as many as half of Americans age 30 and older have periodontitis.