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Relation of body mass index, periodontitis and Tannerella forsythia


  • Conflict of interest and sources of funding statement
    No conflict of interests.

Anne D. Haffajee
Department of Periodontology
The Forsyth Institute
140 The Fenway
Boston, MA 02115


Objective: To determine if there were differences in periodontal status and the composition of the subgingival microbiota in individuals who exhibited different body mass indices (BMI).

Material and Methods: One hundred and twenty-one periodontally healthy/gingivitis and 574 chronic periodontitis subjects had height and weight determined and were measured for probing pocket depth, clinical attachment level, bleeding on probing, gingival redness and presence of visible plaque. Subgingival plaque samples taken from each tooth were individually analysed for their content of 40 bacterial species using checkerboard DNA–DNA hybridization.

Results: Crude odds ratios (ORs) [95% confidence interval (CI)] of overweight and obese individuals exhibiting periodontitis were 3.1 (1.9–4.8) and 5.3 (2.8–9.5), respectively, when compared with subjects with normal BMI. Logistic regression analysis indicated an OR (95% CI) of 2.3 (1.2–4.5) for an obese subject to exhibit periodontitis after adjusting for age, gender and smoking status. Individuals <46.8 years (median age) were responsible for this association. Only Tannerella forsythia differed significantly in proportions among BMI groups and was significantly higher in obese periodontally healthy/gingivitis individuals.

Conclusion: The data suggest that an overgrowth of T. forsythia occurs in the subgingival biofilms of periodontally healthy, overweight and obese individuals that might put them at risk for initiation and progression of periodontitis.