Ask Parker Dentistry: Can Being Overweight Impact My Oral Health?

This week is National Healthy Weight Week, so we only felt it fitting to explore the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and oral health.

As we know, poor oral hygiene can lead to gingivitis (a mild and treatable form of gum disease), periodontal disease (a severe and irreversible form of gum disease), cavities, bad breath (halitosis), and loss of teeth. Other lifestyle factors, such as diet, tobacco use, and chronic stress, can also directly impact your oral health and the state of your smile.

Obesity is a lifestyle disease, and like periodontal disease, it is a growing epidemic. A high BMI increases your chances of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some cancers, which, in turn, can increase your risk of gum disease. Obesity results from consuming more calories (often from foods low in nutrients and high in sugar) than are burned.

To prevent obesity and periodontitis, a healthy diet and regular exercise are paramount. To maintain oral and systemic health, a diet high in antioxidants (important for combating oxidative stress and inflammation) and low in sugar (not good for your teeth or your waistline) is a first step in the right direction.

What’s good for your oral health is good for your whole health!

Good rules of thumb:

If you can’t easily pronounce or don’t know what any or all of the items on the ingredients list are, put it back. (In other words, avoid or limit highly processed and packaged foods.)
The more colorful your plate is, the more nutritious your meal is.
Fiber is your friend.
Sometimes the hunger sensation is just dehydration; learn to love water.
It is never too late to change your habits to healthy ones!

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