It’s hard to avoid information in the media about the health effects of obesity. They’re well known, generally accepted, and we’ve seen the increases in chronic health problems plaguing our country along with the rise in obesity rates.
One connection to obesity that is often overlooked is oral health. Like many other health effects of carrying excess weight, the effects obesity has on your smile is well recorded as well. The good thing about oral health is that it can often be managed easily. At Overmeyer Family Dental we want to help you be the healthiest you can be from head to toe, and that means helping you avoid oral health problems in any way we can!
Obesity And Oral Health: What’s The Risk?
There’s a lot of medical data out there that shows correlations between obesity and oral health problems. For example, obese patients in the 18 to 34 age range have gum disease rates over 75 percent higher than the general population.
The overweight also tend to suffer from tooth loss, tooth decay, and chronic bad breath more commonly than those at a healthy weight. The first question you may have is “why,” and that’s a very good thing to ask.
How Obesity Affects Your Oral Health
Let’s start with a simple fact: overweight patients report seeing the dentist less often, and many of them only come for a visit when there’s something wrong. Regular dental checkups are an essential part of good oral health, right up there with brushing twice a day and flossing in the evening. If you aren’t visiting our Orlando office every six months you’re greatly increasing your risk of developing gum disease and cavities.
Patients, overweight and not, who brush and floss at home often think they’re taking perfect care of their teeth. But without professional care there simply isn’t a way to clean some of the tightest and trickiest spots in your mouth. Put simply, professional dental care isn’t an option if you want to keep your teeth for life.
There are a number of other obesity-related health issues that can cause dental problems as well, and many of them happen regardless of how well you take care of your teeth at home.
Weight gain is directly linked to excess sugar consumption, and it’s sugars that are the cause of most oral health problems. Oral bacteria metabolizes sugar into acids that erode teeth and irritate gums, and the more sugar you eat the more your teeth are suffering. Even with great oral care an excessive intake of sugar will have an impact on your oral health!
Acid reflux is common among overweight people, and it’s yet another way that you can damage your teeth. The acids that are regurgitated into your mouth do just as much – if not more – damage than plaque acids. If you’re suffering from untreated acid reflux you may be doing double damage to your teeth from food and stomach acids!
Managing health conditions with prescription medications is common for obese patients, and many of those medications can cause a dry mouth. Saliva is an important part of good oral health, and without it you’re greatly increasing risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Saliva washes away acids and bacteria, and when your mouth is dry both are able to propagate and do damage without anything to keep them in balance!
A poor diet is the cause of many cases of weight gain, and many a case of gum disease and tooth decay as well! Your mouth needs good foods just as much as the rest of your body. If you’re not treating your body right with a balanced diet you’re depriving yourself of nutrients you need to stimulate a healthy oral environment and fight infections like gum disease.
Can Obesity-Related Oral Health Problems Be Managed?
The most successful method of managing the oral health problems that come with obesity isn’t easy: it requires a lot of lifestyle changes. You need to eat healthier, get active, and lose weight to eliminate many of the risk factors that combine to cause oral health problems.
In the meantime you should be sure to eat healthy, drink plenty of water to help with hydration, get a cleaning and exam every six months, and keep up on good oral hygiene routines. These steps to maintaining good oral health are best coupled with weight loss and getting active, so don’t forget to work on the whole you along with your teeth!