Oral Health and Obesity

While tooth decay is one of the most common chronic health conditions in the world, obesity is also considered a primary health concern in the United States. According to a recent article from Guardian Liberty Voice, nearly one-third of adults in the U.S. are now classified as overweight or obese. And just like several other health conditions, obesity is linked to oral health, with those extra pounds having several negative effects on the health of your mouth. Here’s a look at just a few of them:

  • Oral Bacteria: Some studies suggest that a person’s saliva could be linked to obesity. The makeup of the oral bacteria in your mouth could actually be a biological indicator of weight issues.
  • Diet: In the most basic explanation, weight gain occurs when you take in more calories than your body uses during daily activity. While some rare cases of weight gain are associated with medical disorders, most can be controlled with modifying diet. In recent decades, studies have suggested that fermentable carbohydrates, those found in processed and refined foods, significantly contribute to weight gain. Those same carbs convert into simple sugars when broken down in the mouth, converting to plaque unless removed immediately. An accumulation of plaque can cause halitosis (bad breath), gum disease (gingivitis or periodontitis) as well as tooth decay and eventual loss.
  • Additional Health Issues: In addition to a higher risk of developing gum disease or other dental issues, obesity has been linked to a plethora of other concerns, including heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, stroke, and sleep apnea. Coincidentally (or not), all of these conditions have also been linked to poor oral health, and they all have chronic health implications and could be life-threatening.
  • Poor Immunity: Poor diets, especially those associated with long term weight gain, often lack essential nutrients, creating a form of malnutrition where the body becomes unable to properly absorb what it needs. Such a condition can cause the human body to be vulnerable, especially in it’s ability to fight off infection. Studies have found that overweight Americans (aged 18-34) are 76% more likely than normal weight individuals in the same age range to develop gum disease.

In recent dental news, we’ve heard a lot about the growing mountain of evidence linking oral health and other serious meidcal conditions, like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. But the link between obesity and a healthy mouth is often overlooked. Obesity is  a major health concern in the United States. Considering that both oral health and obesity have the potential to be controlled or improved by monitoring diet and nutrition, the connection should be viewed an important one.

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