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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Healthy Eating, Healthy Mouth

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.

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).

Researchers from the Case Western Reserve University in the US who examined data from 12,110 individuals reported that those who exercised, had healthy eating habits and maintained a normal weight were 40 per cent less likely to develop periodontitis.

More than 30 per cent of the population is thought to suffer from periodontitis, an infection of the gums that can result in tooth loss, but also leads to heart disease, diabetes and pre-term labor.

Advances in dental medicine have permitted more people to keep their teeth as they grow older. Understanding the underlying ways to prevent gum diseases have become increasingly important, according to the researchers.

Curious whether the same factors that can prevent heart disease and lower the risks for diabetes might also impact oral health, the researchers examined the cumulative relationship between weight, exercise and a high-quality diet and dental disease in the United States population.

Researchers concluded that the healthy behaviors such as exercise and diet that lower the risks of diabetes also can lower the risk factors for periodontitis.

Exercise is known to reduce the C-reactive protein in the blood associated with inflammation in the heart and periodontal disease, while healthy eating habits, which builds the body’s defenses against disease, also reduce the production of plaque biofilm, which is the primary epidemiological factor associated with periodontal disease, explained the researchers.

Conquering periodontal disease, according to the researchers, may mean more than just targeting the disease but addressing multiple risk behaviors, too.

“Since oral health professionals may see their patients two or four times a year, it gives them several opportunities to promote these healthy behaviors,” report the researchers.



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