News & Press
John C. Chao, D.D.S., M.A.G.D
Faculty, USC School of Dentistry
A Mile A Day Keeps The Dentist Away
It is well accepted that regular physical exercise reduces the risk of getting heart disease, colon cancer, osteoporosis, hypertension, high cholesterol, and a range of other disorders. Now Dentistry News has published a study by researchers from Case Western Reserve University showing that physical activity may also reduce the risk of getting periodontitis, an inflammatory gum condition that afflicts over one-third of the population in the U.S. and is considered to be the chief cause of adult tooth loss.
Data from 12,110 individuals found that individuals who exercised, had healthy eating habits and maintained a normal weight were 40 percent less likely to develop periodontitis. Another similar study reported in the Journal of Dentistry, showed that non-smokers who exercise regularly have 54% less risk of having periodontitis than those who smoke and don't exercise.
The standard which the Case Western study used was that a healthy exercise regimen should include at least one of the following: walking a mile without stopping, jogging or running, bike riding, aerobic dancing or exercise, dancing, swimming, calisthenics, garden or yard work and weight lifting. If individuals reported five or more moderate physical activities or three intensive activity sessions a week, it was considered a healthy regimen.
Researchers concluded that such exercise programs offer such a wide range of benefits because, at least in part, it reduces C-reactive protein which is associated with inflammatory processes that lead to periodontitis, an inflammatory disease of the gums.
Regular brushing, flossing and regular visits to the dentist reduce the bacterial burden that spreads inflammation of the gums. Regular, healthy exercise apparently reduces the degree of inflammatory response in the gums in the presence of bacterial activity and thus reduces the risk of periodontitis.
The appropriate exercise for an individual should be determined in consultation with a health professional.
Walking a mile a day just might keep the dentist away, at least between regular check-ups.