Exercise helps you maintain your weight and improve muscle tone. But can working out also improve your dental health? Yes, according to one study. Researchers at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine have discovered that people of a normal weight who exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet are less likely to have gum disease. The study, published in the Journal of Periodontology, suggests that a healthy lifestyle may help prevent periodontal disease.
Researchers took the same factors that lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease into account when analyzing data from 12,110 participants of the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They found that those who exercised regularly, had healthy eating habits and maintained their weight were 40 percent less likely to develop periodontal disease than their counterparts. Those who met two of the criteria lowered their risk by 29 percent, while participants with just one healthy virtue had a 16 percent less chance of developing gum disease.
Overall, only seven percent of those who met all three of the criteria had some form of gum disease. The participants who had a poor diet, limited physical activity and were considered overweight totaled 18 percent, suggesting that obesity can more than double your chances of developing periodontal disease. Scientists predict the number could even be greater, if you take into account that some of the participants may not have provided accurate information.
Scientists aren't exactly sure why these factors may decrease your chances of developing gum disease. It's already known that healthy eating can help build up your immune system. Scientists now theorize that eating healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, may also help remove dental plaque from teeth. It's also believed that obesity promotes gum inflammation, while physical activity may decrease it.