It goes without saying that there has been a great deal of attention given to the problem of obesity in our society.  Whether you are surfing news websites, watching coverage on television or reading a newspaper, you can be assured that, at some point, you will come across an article discussing the negative health implications associated with obesity.

Usually, the focus will be on how obesity rates have increased the incidence of heart disease, diabetes and other such medical conditions. Given that these can be fatal if not addressed properly, it comes as no surprise that these topics would garner the lion’s share of attention.

What you do not hear as much about is the link between obesity and oral health. Given what we know about the relationship between oral health and some of the same medical conditions, including heart disease and diabetes, we believe further consideration of this link is very justified!

Regardless as to the age of the individual, there is a tendency for obese individuals to also suffer from poorer oral health. To a great extent, one of the most common causal links between the two is poor diet.

In the case of children, the greater tendency for them to spend more sedentary time watching television of playing simple video games does affect their teeth. Less active children have more time to consume greater quantities of snacks. Unfortunately, the snacks they tend to eat have high sugar content. 

Furthermore, since they are just passively sitting and eating, kids will tend to keep these foods in their mouths for longer periods of time. This can allow more time for the sugars in these foods to be broken down and converted into acids that contribute to tooth decay. When combined with acidic beverages, such as soft drinks or fruit juice, it is easy to see how decay can become a problem.

In the case of obese adults, there are some studies suggesting a link between a high glycemic diet and both obesity and tooth decay. Fermentable carbohydrates, found in refined wheat flour and pasta, tend to be converted into simple sugars. Once again, these are the same sugars that can contribute to both obesity and tooth decay.

When you stop and think about it, it should not come as a surprise that there would be a link between oral health, obesity and poor diet. The poor nutritional value of foods that tend to make up a higher part of the diet of obese individuals clearly affects the teeth as well as the waist line.

At Rideau Dental Centre, our focus will obviously be on the oral health component.  We would be happy to talk with you about your diet. The fact that our discussion may actually have some benefits on your waistline, we would look upon that as an added bonus! Because improving your diet is a healthy habit…and healthier habits lead to healthier lives.

Dr. Peter Georgopoulos

Dental Surgeon