There may be an inflammatory link between obesity and periodontal inflammation and bone loss, according to a new study published in the Journal of Dental Research.
In this mouse-model study, researchers induced metabolic syndrome with a high fat diet and induced periodontitis with Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans lipopolysaccharides (LPS).
Metabolic syndrome is characterized by a collection of risk factors, including belly fat, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, low HDL, and high triglycerides and is associated with an increased risk for both cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
The researchers found that mice with metabolic syndrome had significantly higher periodontal inflammation and bone loss than mice without. This, they speculated, might be due to increased intake of palmitic acid, the most common saturated fatty acid, which appears to enhance the body’s reaction to periodontal bacteria via inflammatory cytokines in macrophages.
While this research is still preliminary, it is certainly not the first to connect obesity and periodontal disease. Last year, a study found that oral pathogen Fusobacterium nucleatum increases production of visfatin, a hormone produced by visceral fat that has been linked to many obesity-associated diseases, including Type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, and cardiovascular disease.
It makes sense that inflammatory conditions would be associated and perhaps exacerbate one another. Just look at the relationship between periodontal disease and diabetes: treating one generally improves outcomes in the other.
We already know that periodontal treatment is associated with improved clinical markers of both diabetes and cardiovascular disease; it will be interesting to see whether future research shows that improvement in metabolic health has a positive impact on periodontal disease.