Background: Obesity is increasing in prevalence and is a major contributor to worldwide morbidity. One consequence of obesity might be an increased risk for periodontal disease, although periodontal inflammation might, in turn, exacerbate the metabolic syndrome, of which obesity is one component. This review aims to systematically compile the evidence of an obesity-periodontal disease relationship from epidemiologic studies and to derive a quantitative summary of the association between these disease states.
Methods: Systematic searches of the MEDLINE, SCOPUS, BIOSIS, LILACS, Cochrane Library, and Brazilian Bibliography of Dentistry databases were conducted with the results and characteristics of relevant studies abstracted to standardized forms. A meta-analysis was performed to obtain a summary measure of association.
Results: The electronic search identified 554 unique citations, and 70 studies met a priori inclusion criteria, representing 57 independent populations. Nearly all studies matching inclusion criteria were cross-sectional in design with the results of 41 studies suggesting a positive association. The fixed-effects summary odds ratio was 1.35 (Shore-corrected 95% confidence interval: 1.23 to 1.47), with some evidence of a stronger association found among younger adults, women, and non-smokers. Additional summary estimates suggested a greater mean clinical attachment loss among obese individuals, a higher mean body mass index (BMI) among periodontal patients, and a trend of increasing odds of prevalent periodontal disease with increasing BMI. Although these results are highly unlikely to be chance findings, unmeasured confounding had a credible but unknown influence on these estimates.
Conclusions: This positive association was consistent and coherent with a biologically plausible role for obesity in the development of periodontal disease. However, with few quality longitudinal studies, there is an inability to distinguish the temporal ordering of events, thus limiting the evidence that obesity is a risk factor for periodontal disease or that periodontitis might increase the risk of weight gain. In clinical practice, a higher prevalence of periodontal disease should be expected among obese adults.