Obesity may make gum disease treatment less effective, according to a study published in the Journal of Periodontology.
Researchers from Sao Paulo, Brazil, studied 48 people, all of whom had gum disease. Half of the people studied were obese. Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. BMI measures weight in relationship to height.
Everyone in the study received scaling and root planing, which is the most common type of treatment for gum disease. It involves a deep cleaning of the teeth, above and below the gum line. Also, any rough spots on tooth roots are made smoother. This helps to keep bacteria from attaching to the roots.
Researchers examined everyone’s mouths three months and six months after treatment. At each time point, gum health was better than before treatment. This was true for both obese and non-obese groups. But at six months, the non-obese group had healthier gums than the obese group did.
Researchers also measured the blood levels of a hormone called leptin, which plays a role in appetite and weight control. The obese group had higher levels of leptin throughout the study. Gum disease treatment did not affect leptin levels.
Obesity and periodontal disease have been examined in other research. A 2011 study did not find that obesity affected response to gum disease treatment. However, that study followed people for only three months after treatment, whereas the Brazilian study followed people for six months.