Exercise and Your Gums

Author: Kimberly N. Powell, DDS, MS

Gingivitis is inflammation of the gingiva that presents with red, swollen, and/or bleeding gums. Gingivitis is caused by plaque bacteria and is the mildest form of gum disease, advanced periodontitis being the most severe. The American Dental Association (ADA) recently reported that exercise can have benefits for your gums as well as your overall health. Data collected through the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), a long-term national health survey, found that adults who followed government recommendations for physical activity were also less likely to have periodontal disease. Data from a select group of study participants — nonsmokers or former smokers who exercised moderately five days per week, or vigorously three times per week for at least 10 years and had a periodontal exam — showed a significantly lower risk for periodontal disease. Nonsmokers had a 55 percent lower risk for periodontal problems and former smokers a 75 percent lower risk (ADA). Although the results are interesting, dental health still depends on good oral hygiene which consists of brushing at least twice a day for two minutes, flossing, using a mouth rinse, biannual dental cleanings and exams, and a healthy diet.