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Bacteria and Blubber, Hand in Hand

Filed Under: Sexual Health at 4:56 pm | By: Susan Coyle, Senior Editor
GumsIt will start as a mild sensitivity. Your gums will redden and swell. You’ll bleed as you brush, but you’ll reassure yourself that this has happened before. It’s stopped with a little more attention to your dental hygiene. So you become more careful. But even when you are, the infection continues to grow, undisturbed by your renewed alertness. Your teeth and gums begin to separate forming tiny pockets of infection. Your mild case of gingivitis evolves into a severe form of gum disease  – one in which your bones, gums and connective tissue could easily be destroyed. Why did this infection spiral so quickly into disaster when previous ones were quelled by better brushing? What was different this time?

Your waistline.

Researchers recently compared the abilities of obese and normal-weight mice in fighting off gum disease. The heavier rodents could not effectively ward off the infection, most likely because their immune system had been weakened by their weight.  Several mechanisms in the immune system had been destroyed, the inflammation-causing genes altered and the white blood cell count lowered. Bacteria were essentially given an open invitation to breed and grow, spreading disease throughout the poor, fat-laden bodies. The same would and does occur in humans. Obese individuals have a more difficult time warding off and clearing infections, and healing wounds. 

If you are obese, you should be aware that your body is not as prepared to fight the storm of bacteria you encounter every day. When infections, such as gum disease, develop in your body, they will be more enduring and severe than they would be if you were lighter. Therefore, when caring for your health, you should not only devote time to acquiring a healthier weight but to bolstering your immune system. Guard yourself so that you are able to fight every foe – bacteria, virus, etc. – that attempts to rob you of your health.

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