Wellness

The Link Between Obesity and Dental Health

African American woman having coffee while on her laptop at the library.

The numbers are staggering: 4 out of 10 Americans are obese. And within this group, 10% are severely obese. Scientists report that people who are obese have higher chances of developing many severe medical conditions. Some of these diseases also can put obese people at risk for developing dental problems. Here’s how to understand the link between obesity and dental health.

Obesity

Medical experts define obesity as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. Severe obesity is described as a BMI of 40 or above. BMI is estimated by a person’s body fat based on their height and weight. There are many reasons why people become obese. It’s usually caused by a combination of eating too many foods loaded with carbohydrates and calories, and a sedentary lifestyle. Sometimes medications can cause people to put on unhealthy weight.

Medical conditions

Research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that obese people can develop severe medical conditions. These can include diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, fatty liver disease, sleep apnea, arthritis and gallbladder disease.

Dental health

People who are obese tend to have inflammation in their bodies. Inflammation is associated with many medical and dental problems. For example, people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes are at risk for developing dry mouth, oral infections and severe dental problems, such as periodontal disease, also known as gum disease.

Obese people tend to eat foods rich in sugar and carbohydrates. Germs in the mouth can combine with these food particles and attack tooth enamel. One study found that obese people are 5.9 times more likely than those of average weight to have severe gum disease.

Many foods can cause tooth decay. Review this list of 10 foods that are bad for your oral health.

Daily oral care

Dentists encourage people of all ages to practice good oral hygiene. This includes flossing daily and brushing teeth twice a day for two minutes each time to prevent tooth decay that can cause gum disease. In addition, we all need to schedule an annual dental appointment for an exam and professional cleaning. Together these habits will help you protect your teeth for a lifetime of good dental health.

Are you looking for a new dentist? Most people prefer to see a dentist close to their home or work. Check out these tips to find a dentist that fits your needs.

Sources:
Today’s RDH
Medical Xpress
Colgate
WebMD