How Being Overweight Can Harm Your Oral Health

Our Addlestone dental team examines this topical subject

DentistA lot has happened in the last few months and we are probably not out of the woods yet when it comes to the Coronavirus. Hopefully, a better knowledge of the virus and how it spreads will help to keep it under control in the months ahead. One thing that has been discovered during this time is that obesity is a very significant factor for those who get the virus and that being overweight increases the risk of mortality.

This probably shouldn’t come as a surprise as it is widely accepted that being obese brings with it many health issues. One that hasn’t really been examined in too much detail though, is the impact that obesity can have on our teeth and gums.

At the Synergy Clinic in Addlestone, we believe that a holistic approach to oral care is important and that, whilst we will do all that we can to restore damaged and decaying teeth, we also offer advice on how to prevent this from occurring in the first place.

Our diets

Although some of us are more predisposed than others to being overweight, with genetics playing a part, the reality is that for most people, it is what we eat and also how much, that contributes most to us being overweight. Although fast foods, with their often high fat content play a significant part in this, so do cakes, biscuits and sweets etc. Indeed, whilst we might eat fast food in place of a home cooked meal, it is the cakes, biscuits and sweets that we are most likely to reach for at times when we are inactive and perhaps watching TV.

As dentists have known for a long time, sugar is responsible for most tooth decay and our fondness of sweet products makes this a problem. As the bacteria in our mouth breaks down the sugar, it produces acids. These acids then erode the enamel on the teeth, allowing bacteria to enter the porous area beneath. Eventually, teeth affected in this way are likely to need to be filled or even, potentially, extracted.

Diabetes

As we have mentioned in some of our previous blogs, patients who have diabetes are at a bigger risk of gum disease and will need to have more professional dental supervision than regular patients. This will usually include a more frequent scale and polish procedure to remove the hardened bacteria which can build up much quicker in some people who suffer with diabetes. Being overweight is a risk factor for having diabetes so managing your weight will help to reduce your risk.

Diabetes can also cause damage to our blood vessels and this includes those that supply the blood to our gums. If blood flow is restricted in this area, infections are more likely as well.

Lifestyle

In the modern world, there is little need for most of us to use a great deal of energy to survive. We no longer have to hunt for food and to get from A to B we can sit on a seat and be whisked away by the engine of our own car or on public transport. Compare this to the past where a great deal of energy would have been expended on doing these simple things. Whilst we might not wish to return to those days, the fact is that with our overconsumption of food and a reduction in energy expended, it isn’t surprising that many of us gain weight.

This weight gain becomes a self fulfilling prophecy as the effort required to go for a run or even a walk is much greater if we have to carry more weight around. Over time, it isn’t hard to see how this can put our health at serious risk.

What can we do about it?

Although our Addlestone dentists are not all ‘fitness gurus’, we do understand the importance of a healthy lifestyle for our teeth, gums and mouth in general and indeed, most of us endeavour to incorporate a healthy lifestyle into our daily routine. There are many ‘get fit’ videos online but the important thing to remember is that if you are overweight, going for a 20 mile run is probably going to be extremely hard and the after effects will probably deter you from exercise for some time.

Gradual progress is the important thing here. It doesn’t matter how little you do the first time, the important thing is to start. Each day, increase your activity levels just a little, and in time  you will find that you are doing a reasonable amount of exercise and losing weight.  A good tale to remember is the ancient Greek champion wrestler, Milo. He lifted a baby calf each day of its life until it turned into a full size bull. This gradual progression, it is said, gave him his incredible strength.  You may find it challenging to find a bull that is happy to let you do this but the principle remains that you could walk an extra 100 yards each day, for example, and gradually improve your endurance.

It is important too that you apply this to your diet. Going from a burger and cake diet to a quinoa and supergreen diet overnight is probably not going to be a very pleasant experience. Try to gradually eat healthier, perhaps starting with changing a meal or two each week.

Even a tooth friendly diet and sufficient exercise does not mean that you don’t need to see a dentist. Regular and ongoing examinations are essential for you to maintain a healthy mouth. If you would like to make an appointment to see a dentist at the Synergy Clinic, please call us on 01932 856541.