Inactive, middle aged men are at greater risk of developing gum disease compared to men who regularly exercise.
Researchers discovered moderate to severe gum disease was associated with low levels of exercise in men aged 45-65, most of who worked in offices.
The research, which took place at Hannover Medical School, studied 72 healthy men who did not join in any sporting activity and had a predominantly sitting working position. Their gums were assessed during an exercise test, and results showed high age and low levels of physical activity were associated with moderate to severe gum disease.
Most people have some form of gum disease, and it is the major cause of tooth loss in adults. However, the disease develops very slowly in most people, and it can be slowed down to a rate that should allow you to keep most of your teeth for life.
Previous research has also shown people who exercise regularly, have a healthy lifestyle and a normal weight were 40 per cent less likely to develop gum disease. Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, used the research to remind people, especially those highlighted in the study, about the importance of good oral health.
Dr Carter said:
"People see the health of their mouth and the health of their body as two very different things, but it is becoming increasingly clear that this just isn't the case. This research pinpoints a very high-risk group who need to review their current habits.
"Whether you have concerns about the state of your teeth or your general health and fitness, you need to consider the bigger picture.
"Gum disease affects around 19 out of 20 of us at some point in our lives. As well as links to a whole host of general health conditions, it is also by far the most common cause of tooth loss in adults.
"Desk grazing may seem relatively harmless, but constantly snacking on crisps, chocolate, dried fruit and sugary drinks cause teeth a whole host of nightmares. Frequent consumption of sugary foods and drinks naturally weakens the enamel on the teeth, and as a result, the Foundation recommends eating three square meals a day instead of having seven to ten 'snack attacks'. If people do snack between meals, choose foods and drinks that do not contain sugar, limiting the amount of time the mouth is at risk."
Dr Carter continued: "We already know that poor oral health can have a negative effect on the rest of your body and the fact that gum disease increases your chances of developing heart disease, heart attacks, diabetes, strokes and low birth weight babies needs to be taken very seriously indeed.
"To stay healthy you need to adopt a good routine that includes, but isn't limited to, brushing for two minutes twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, cutting down how often you have sugary foods and drinks and visiting the dentist regularly, as often as they recommend.
"If you are serious about your health – and your teeth – you should also clean in between your teeth with interdental brushes or floss. If your gums do start to bleed this is a sign that you may have not been cleaning well enough so increase your toothbrushing. If things do not settle within a few days get along to the dentist before the problem becomes irreversible and you start to lose teeth."