Obesity and Oral Health | Gum Disease and Obesity

More than one third of Americans are obese, and medical costs associated with obesity total roughly $150 billion. Obesity, defined as having excess body fat, is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and several types of cancer. But did you know it could affect your oral health? Today, our Lake Forest cosmetic dentist, Dr. James Fondriest, shares some information about the correlation between obesity and poor oral health.

What is Obesity?

The World Health Organization uses a ratio called the Body Mass Index (BMI) to determine whether someone is overweight or obese. BMI uses height and weight because, for many people, their height and weight correlate with their level of body fat. A person with a BMI above 25 is considered overweight, and a person with a BMI above 30 is considered obese. It’s important to note that a muscular person can have a high BMI and low body fat percentage.

Oral Connection between weight and gum disease

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology revealed that periodontal pocket depth directly correlated to obesity. The larger the pocket depth, which measures how much  the gums have receded from the teeth, the higher the proportion of patients with a BMI greater than 30. Experts believe the correlation between gum disease and obesity could be caused by an increase in snacking or grazing. A University of North Carolina study based on food surveys in the 70s, 80s, and 90s showed that obesity, portion size, and eating frequency all increased progressively. While eating throughout the day at your desk can keep your hunger at bay, dentists recommend eating set meals instead of grazing on what is likely to be foods that aren’t dental-friendly. If you must snack throughout the day, opt for carrots, cheese, and nuts and drink plenty of water.

Schedule an Appointment

While there is a correlation between obesity and gum disease, everyone can benefit from proper oral hygiene. Avoid sugary and starchy foods and lay off the soda. Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and floss daily. It’s also important to schedule a dental cleaning and checkup every six months. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Fondriest, call our Lake Forest dental office at (847) 234-0517.

Dr. James Fondriest