Obesity has in the past been identified as a risk factor in the development of oral disease, as those who are prone to ingesting a higher amount of food products with an elevated sugar content are more at risk of becoming obese and of developing dental cavities. More recent research however, is looking at this issue from a whole new angle.
A group of British scientists recently researched the potential of oral bacteria as actually being a cause of, or contributor to, obesity. In a study of 500 women — 60 per cent of whom suffered from clinical obesity — it was determined that 98 per cent of the overweight women had present in their saliva a certain species of oral bacteria (selenomonas noxia). This specific bacteria is known to be a contributor to gum disease and poor dental health.
While the exact connection between the oral bacteria and obesity is not yet entirely clear, scientists think it likely that this oral bacteria could serve as a biological indicator of a developing overweight condition. While it had previously been determined that oral bacteria may result from obesity, it now being speculated that certain bacteria may actually have the ability to increase the appetite of individuals and make the body store up nourishment from food, causing a weight increase.
But what impact, if any, does this new information have on the general population? If nothing else, it serves as a reminder of the tie between oral health and our general well-being. With proven connections between oral health and other conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, as well as an unmistakable link between obesity as a risk factor in the development of oral disease, nutrition as an integral component of oral health cannot be underestimated.
Scientific and epidemiological data suggest a lifelong synergy between nutrition and the integrity of the oral cavity in health and disease. Oral health and nutrition have a synergistic bidirectional relationship. Oral infectious diseases, as well as acute, chronic, and terminal systemic diseases with oral manifestations, impact the functional ability to eat as well as diet and nutrition. Likewise, nutrition and diet may affect the development and integrity of the oral cavity as well as the progression of oral diseases. We don’t therefore, want to in any way downplay the role of nutrition in our oral health.
A balanced and nutritious diet is good for your general health and your dental health. Without the right nutrients, your teeth and gums can become more susceptible to decay and gum disease. The same items that contribute to poor oral health also contribute to weight gain, so take care to limit items that are high in sugar and simple carbohydrates. Whole grains and vegetables are beneficial to both your teeth and gums and also to your overall health. Frequent brushing has been found, not just to protect your teeth from potential decay, but also to at times actually reduce the amount of calories that people ingest. If your mouth has been freshly cleaned, a glass of orange juice or a sticky sweet often just doesn’t hold the same appeal.
Yes, by making wise choices as to what you put in your mouth, you will see a wide variety of benefits and will help to protect yourself against potential undesired weight gain and oral complications.
Your dentist at North Burnaby Dental Group is more than happy to answer any questions you may have, and is able to offer input as to which course of action will be best for you.