Obesity has been emphasized across our healthcare industry as a highly prevalent issue for today’s generation. Being overweight or obese has been shown to lead to numerous health issues later on in life, increasing the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. For our oral health, being overweight can impact our teeth and gums, as the various foods eaten can contain an increasingly dangerous level of carbohydrates and processed sugars, causing an increase in cavities and gum disease among those obese. However, where does the line between dentistry management and overall health play hand-in-hand? How does obesity affect dental health, and how can dentists help provide solutions to these issues?
The CDC often measures excess amounts of body fat as a way of comparing weight to height, taking in factors such as age and overall health to determine the percentile of body fat required to maintain a healthy lifestyle. For children and teenagers, it’s especially important to consider how their overall weight affects their body composition and how their nutrition, genetics, and environment play into their overall BMI. However, how obesity connects to oral health considers many of these factors, as these both correlate and share common risk factors.
According to a study conducted by the International Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry, childhood obesity and its correlation with cavities and gum disease are affected by factors such as lack of physical activity, changes in eating habits, and social changes. Because childhood is such as critical point of development, both obesity and dental diseases present some of the greatest public health burdens because of their adverse impact on their growth. When behaviors are altered and form into unhealthy habits, their oral health becomes impacted as well.
Within the study, researchers found that increased caloric intake with highly processed sugars and fats, alongside a lack of exercise, is responsible for the onset of multiple health conditions, including an association with cavities. Eating fewer fruits and vegetables reduces children’s fiber intake, and the unavailability of a nutritious, healthy diet overall has been shown to increase cavities and gum disease in children. This positive correlation creates risk factors for other health conditions in later life.
When it comes to addressing obesity, dentists present a unique position, where their insights can offer extensive help towards giving parents better options for their child’s health. Dentists can provide numerous solutions that can address these issues and help change and transform lifestyle habits into a more prospective outlook for their future. These various solutions can include: