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Obesity, Eating Disorders, and Oral Health

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For decades, health organizations have been closely monitoring the eating patterns of those in the United States. A troubling trend has emerged — adults have grown in heaps, pounds, and bounds. The U.S. tops one of the countries with the most obese population. 31.7 percent of men, 33.9 percent of women, and 25.8 percent of children are by definition “obese.” The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of 2013 to 2014 states that more than one in three adults are overweight.

Why Being Overweight and Obese is a Problem

People who are overweight or obese are at higher risk for many severe diseases and health conditions. They can suffer from hypertension, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and sleep apnea. Numerous studies show that obese individuals are more prone to oral health problems. A survey found that overweight and obese people also have more advanced levels of tooth decay and more missing teeth.

The British Dental Health Foundation established a correlation between high levels of oral bacteria and obesitySaliva samples from 500 women, 60 percent of who were considered obese, were analyzed. The research revealed that compared to healthy women, 98 percent of the overweight subjects had significantly higher levels of Selenomonas noxia. Selenomonas noxia is a strain of oral bacteria linked to periodontal diseases and poor dental health.

Another study echoed these findings, showing that the increased risk of gum diseases in obese or overweight individuals may be due to the high body mass indices that produce a higher level of inflammatory proteins.

People who are overweight or obese tend to over-consume foods containing refined carbohydrates; regardless of diabetes or smoking, individuals with a 30 body mass index (BMI) or higher have increased risks of developing periodontal disease. Additionally, this finding suggests that overweight women are more susceptible to gum disease than men.

Possible Factors Linking Dental Disease with Obesity

  • Overconsumption of refined carbohydrates, sugar-rich, and fatty foods
  • The practice of sedentary activities
  • Inadequate lifestyle education, food choices, and physical activity
  • Inadequate familial development and observance of healthy lifestyles
  • Overexposure to television, which includes unhealthy snack food ads

Eating Disorders and Oral Health

Individuals suffering from eating disorders are prone to dental problems as well. According to statistics, about 35 million Americans have eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. People who have anorexia starve themselves of the nutrients they require. They also tend to vomit food intake as a direct consequence of the extreme fear of weight gain.

Those who have bulimia undergo excessive eating but induce purging afterward in an effort not to gain weight. Eating disorders can impede nutrients and minerals in nourishing the body. They weaken the immune system and affect oral health. It also destroys the teeth structure and weakens the enamel of the teeth. When vomiting, gastric acid passes through the stomach, which can also contribute to the enamel’s deterioration.

Also, weak teeth are more prone to breaking and discoloring. Mouth and throat tenderness may also be present in those with eating disorders. Worst cases can lead to the weakening of the jaw bone.

Preventing Dental Problems and Obesity

Modify what you eat: Replace binges on empty-calorie treats and sugary snacks with foods rich in vitamins and minerals.

Exercise: This doesn’t have to be strenuous. Taking a walk instead of riding a cab or using the stairs instead of an elevator alone can burn more calories. Structured and regular exercise not only eliminates fatty deposits but also improves the lungs and heart.

Brush and Floss Your Teeth: Brushing the teeth twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste and flossing can dramatically improve oral health. Dentists also recommend rinsing with antibacterial products for one minute daily for effective plaque disruption. This can eliminate 20 percent of the buildup.

Addressing Obesity

Fortunately, no matter how relentless the problem of obesity might seem, there’s still hope. Your best ally is always yourself. Be proactive, take charge, and be persistent in breaking the cycle.

If not addressed early, obesity can affect dental health. Consequently, it will eventually lead to other health problems. So, take the first step. Your well-being depends on it. Hence, speaking with a medical professional can help with your weight loss journey.

Effects of Bariatric Surgery on Dental Health

After the completion of weight-loss surgery, the normality of life begins to resume. However, there are various restrictions imposed on the post-surgical person. For instance, limitations include intaking several small-sized meals and chewing food in small portions.

These gastric limitations can lead to stomach ulcers, duodenal stenosis, gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), and chronic vomiting. The backflow of acid through the esophagus and often towards the oral cavity can cause heartburn. Heartburn is a known culprit of dental caries and gum disease. Unfortunately, repeated acid attacks combined with the uncontrolled ingestion of sugary foods induce enamel demineralization. As a result, this can sometimes counteract efforts to maintain oral hygiene.

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