WEDNESDAY, Nov. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Losing weight appears to help fight gum disease, a new study indicates.

It included 31 obese people who underwent treatment for gum disease. Half of the patients (average body-mass index, or BMI, of 39) had gastric bypass weight loss surgery and also had fat cells removed from their abdomen. The other patients (average BMI of 35) did not have gastric bypass surgery or fat removed from their abdomen.

All the participants underwent nonsurgical periodontal (gum) treatments of scaling/root planing and received instructions for oral hygiene at home.

Both groups showed overall improvement in gum health but those in the surgery group showed greater improvement on measures for periodontal attachment, bleeding, probing depths and plaque levels, Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine researchers said in a university news release.

The study was published in the Journal of Periodontology.

The improved response to periodontal treatment may be due to reductions in insulin resistance and inflammation associated with weight loss, the researchers said.

More information

The American Dental Association has more about gum disease.