First-Of-Its-Kind Study From New York Medical College Shows Link Between Obesity and Gum Infection
Supports ongoing research on importance of annual dental visits
Jennifer Riekert, M.B.A.
Vice President of Communications
New York Medical College
Valhalla, N.Y. – A new NIH-funded study, conducted by New York Medical College (NYMC), found a link between obesity and periodontitis, a serious and common gum infection caused by poor oral hygiene. Working on mice, faculty from the Department of Pharmacology at NYMC infected the subjects with Porphyromonas gingivalis, bacteria that cause periodontal disease, and measured inflammation. The results showed the bacteria worsened the functionality of fat tissue, which has been shown to increase obesity. In this context, the study also evaluated the anti-inflammatory properties of Kavain, an extract found in the kava plant, discovering the compound could potentially counter chronic inflammation in obese patients. Findings were originally published in The Journal of Immunology.
“Our study uniquely shows that bacteria found solely in the oral cavity has the ability to aggravate obesity,” said lead author Salomon Amar, D.D.S., Ph.D., Professor of Pharmacology and Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at NYMC, and Professor of Dentistry at Touro College of Dental Medicine (TCDM), “While oral hygiene isn’t the only factor in obesity and weight gain, the combination of better oral habits and the anti-inflammatory properties found in Kavain could reduce the health consequences associated with obesity a major world epidemics.”
“For the first time ever we found evidence that bacteria can affect fat cells,” said Nader G. Abraham, Ph.D., Dr. H.C., FAHA, co-investigator and professor of medicine and pharmacology at NYMC, “A link between poor oral hygiene and cardiovascular disorders has already been proven by our group, yet many patients don’t visit the dentist regularly. Our study shows another reason that everyone should brush and floss daily, as well as schedule routine dental cleanings.”
The full study is available on the NIH site.
New York Medical College
Founded in 1860, NYMC is one of the oldest and largest health sciences colleges in the country with more than 1,400 students, 1,000 residents and clinical fellows, more than 2,600 faculty members, and 23,000 living alumni. The College, which joined the Touro College and University System in 2011, is located in Westchester County, New York, and offers degrees from the School of Medicine, the Graduate School of Basic Medical Sciences, the School of Health Sciences and Practice, a School of Dental Medicine and a School of Nursing. NYMC provides a wide variety of clinical training opportunities for students, residents, and practitioners.