Gum disease is often blamed on bacterial build-up in our mouths due to poor oral hygiene.
And sometimes this is true.
But a study from the Journal of Dental Research now reveals another factor—one that is maybe even more important for healing your gums than teeth and gum hygiene are.
Researchers from the University at Buffalo were aware of previous studies that had found a relationship between obesity and gum disease, so they wanted to find out why obese people were more likely to have this dental condition.
No previous studies had investigated the mechanisms by which obesity influences the occurrence of gum disease.
They decided to perform their study on mice, which allowed them to keep all other dietary and lifestyle factors constant.
They divided these mice into a group that was fed a normal diet with 10% fat and one that was fed a high-fat diet, with 45% of calories derived from fat. Members of the second group predictably soon became obese.
The first problem they noticed in their obese mice was a serious level of inflammation throughout their bodies. This is unsurprising, as we know by now that obesity has this effect.
But when they started tracking the consequences of this inflammation, they noticed that it was increasing the number of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC) in the blood of the mice. This is a type of immune cell that proliferates at the time of illness to promote immune function.
So what is wrong with promoting the immune system?
Quite a lot, in this case.
When the bone marrow produces MDSCs and the immune system senses no illness, these MDSCs transform into a variety of cell types.
These new cells include osteoclasts, which break down bone.
The presence of osteoclasts is also usually a good thing, because old bone needs to be broken down before strong new bone can be formed.
But if there are too many osteoclasts, bone is broken down too fast, which is how obesity-related inflammation causes gum disease.
When your gums recede, your teeth no longer have bone to anchor them, which leads them to fall out.
The researchers found more MDSCs in the bone marrow and spleens of the mice fed the high-fat diet.
They also found higher activation levels of 27 genes that scientists had previously linked to the formation of osteoclasts.
There were more osteoclasts in the blood of the obese mice and a decrease in the type of bone that held their teeth in place, called alveolar bone.
But it’s not just obese people who get this kind of gum disease. Everyone who has unbalanced gut flora can develop gum disease of this type.
I’ve taught thousands of people to heal their gums with what I call the two-punch approach:
- – Get rid of the bacteria directly destroying your gums
– Heal your gut flora to promote strong bones and gums.