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Another Reason to Stay in Shape: Healthy Teeth and Gums

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AAP Newsroom

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CHICAGOAugust 2, 2010The health complications of being overweight, such as increased risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and certain cancers, have long been reported. Health care professionals often urge patients to manage their weight and strive to get physical exercise each day to achieve and maintain overall health. And now, researchers have now uncovered another benefit of maintaining a fit lifestyle: healthy teeth and gums.

In a study published in the August issue of the Journal of Periodontology, researchers found that subjects who maintained a healthy weight and had high levels of physical fitness had a lower incidence of severe periodontitis. Using body mass index (BMI) and percent body fat as a measure of weight control, and maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) as a measure of physical fitness, researchers compared subjects weight and fitness variables with the results of a periodontal examination. Those with the lowest BMI and highest levels of fitness had significantly lower rates of severe periodontitis. Study Abstract *

Periodontitis, or gum disease, is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the supporting bone and tissues around the teeth. Gum disease is a major cause of tooth loss in adults, and research has suggested gum disease is associated with other diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Samuel Low, DDS, MS, Associate Dean and professor of periodontology at the University of Florida College of Dentistry, and President of the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), says that research connecting overall health and periodontal health should motivate people to maintain a healthy weight and get enough physical fitness.

Research continues to demonstrate that our overall health and oral health are connected, says Dr. Low. Weight management and physical fitness both contribute to overall health; and now we believe staying in shape may help lower your risk of developing gum disease. Since gum disease is related to other diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, continues Dr. Low, There is even more reason to take care of yourself through diet and exercise.

Dr. Low also encourages comprehensive periodontal care through daily tooth brushing and flossing, and routine visits to a dental professional, such as a periodontist, a specialist in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of gum disease.

* EDITOR’S NOTE: Representatives of the media may contact the AAP Public Affairs Department to receive a copy of the study Relationship Between Obesity and Physical Fitness and Periodontitis. Abstracts of Journal of Periodontology articles are available to the public online. Full-text of studies may be accessed by AAP members and Journal subscribers or purchased online.

About the AAP

The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) is is an 8,000-member professional organization for periodontists – specialists in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases affecting the gums and supporting structures of the teeth, and in the placement of dental implants. Periodontists are also dentistrys experts in the treatment of oral inflammation and receive three additional years of specialized training following dental school. Periodontics is one of the nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association.

Find out if you are at risk for periodontal diseases by taking the Academys risk assessment test. Referral to a periodontist in your area is available by calling 800-FLOSS-EM or visiting the AAP’s website at

For more information, contact the AAP Public Affairs Department at or 312/573-3242.

Find Out More

  • Other AAP News Releases about Fitness and Periodontal Health
  • Causes and Types of Periodontal Disease
  • Periodontal Disease Risk Assessment Test
  • Find a Periodontist Near You
  • Treatments for Periodontal Disease

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