Oral Health and Obesity: A Genetic Connection

A recent study published in the Journal of Periodontology confirms that individuals with a high body mass index are more susceptible to developing gum disease. In particular, overweight or obese patients, especially men, who carry a specific genetic variant were at an even greater risk. Furthermore, it appears that those same patients may have a diminished response to nonsurgical periodontal therapy, making treatment more challenging.

DNA was collected from 292 men, aged 29-64, and the participants had dental and anthropometric endpoints taken about every three years for up to 27 years. Researchers were trying to evaluate the specific patterns of interleukin-1 (IL-1) gene variants, which are known to affect the severity of periodontitis, to determine the association between obesity and the progression of gum disease. The analysis of the data showed a strong correlation between IL-1 genetic variations and obesity-related traits, according to a recent article from the Dental Tribune. They found that patients who were IL-1 positive and obese were 70% more likely to experience periodontal disease progression than those who had a healthy BMI.

“This study provides further evidence that obese and overweight patients who are IL-1 positive will benefit from more intensive dental management,” said CEO of Interleukin Genetics, Mark B. Carbeau. “Based on these findings we are including expanded education and engagement tools for this high risk population into our product,” he added.

Interleukin Genetics is a life science company that specializes in the genetics of chronic inflammation. They develop and market a line of genetic tests for chronic diseases and health-related conditions. The study was a collaboration between Interleukin Genetics and the Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine.

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