Obesity Linked to Tooth Decay?

Having an unhealthy waistline could prove to be detrimental to oral health. This is perhaps not that surprising, considering a poor diet of sugary treats and not enough greens could contribute to both. But what may be surprising is another oral health-body weight connection: inflammation. 

Being overweight can increase your chances of inflammation in the body. Inflammation, over time, releases chemicals that assault the gum line. Also, inflammation in the mouth has an impact on the body's ability to produce blood sugar, contributing to an increase in diabetes and high blood sugar that paves the way for infection.

A dangerous oral disease called periodontal disease, in which the gums become red and swollen, also opens patients up for the risk of tooth loss. 

"Periodontal disease will often display itself as swelling, tenderness and pain in the gums," said Dr. Kelley Mingus, DDS, of Bend, Oregon.

If left untreated, it could eventually lead to lung or heart disease. Those suffering from periodontal disease should also keep in mind that smoking increases their risk of tooth loss. High blood pressure also factors in and can cause early death if left untreated. 

The Journal of Dental Education notes on the correlation between obesity and periodontal disease: "The consequences of dental caries (cavities) and periodontal disease can also lead to tooth loss, and obese individuals are associated with having fewer teeth than normal-weight individuals."

So, what can you do if you are struggling with obesity? For starters, change your diet to a healthier one by adding in fruits and vegetables and cutting out sugary drinks. Also, increasing your daily exercise, brushing and flossing every day using fluoride toothpaste, and getting more sleep could decrease your chance of obesity. Once the waistline shrinks, the chances of getting periodontal disease or dying of a heart attack are drastically reduced. 

No matter what your weight, you should be sure to continue to go to your yearly checkups and teeth cleanings. By staying on top of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you can continue to maintain your healthy, happy smile, Mingus said.