Published on October 21, 2017
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One of the many questions I ask all prospective clients at the intake has to do with their oral health. I find there’s a commonality between the adult overweight and obese clients who’ve been battling their weight for years, and the younger kids and teens: So many over-fat people have problems with their oral health.
While everyone knows that what you eat affects your weight, many clients are surprised to hear that what they eat affects their oral health . . . no matter how many Listerine chasers they may have a day!
It should come as no surprise to anyone that, given the rising levels of childhood obesity not only are younger people being diagnosed more often with “old people” issues (diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, to name a few), but over-fat kids are having more problems with teeth and gums, requiring more dental surgeries than ever before.
Think of it: Your teeth come in contact with every part of your diet that enters your mouth.
Invisible germs called bacteria live in your mouth all the time. Some of these bacteria form a sticky material called plaque on the surface of the teeth. When you put sugar in your mouth, the bacteria in the plaque gobble up the sweet stuff and turn it into acids. These acids are powerful enough to dissolve the hard enamel that covers your teeth. That’s how cavities get started.
If you don’t eat much sugar, the bacteria can’t produce as much of the acid that eats away enamel.
Also, keep in mind that certain kinds of sweets can do more damage than others. Gooey or chewy sweets spend more time sticking to the surface of your teeth. Because sticky snacks stay in your mouth longer than foods that you quickly chew and swallow, they give your teeth a longer sugar bath.
Whether you’re young or old, a diet built around refined and processed carbohydrate foods will lead not only to an ever-expanding waist line but also to the cumulative build-up of plaque on teeth and gums. (Plaque is a biofilm of microorganisms that grows on surfaces within the mouth; a sticky colorless deposit at first, but when it forms tartar, it is often brown or pale yellow.) This build-up leads to gingivitis (gum inflammation). That leads to periodontal disease (infection of the tissues that support your teeth), and then to the more advanced periodontitis (gums and bone that support the teeth can become seriously damaged).
An ever-expanding waist line leads to obesity. Obesity leads to diabetes (poor blood glucose control). Diabetes makes gum problems more likely.
As kids, our diet influences how our teeth develop. As adults, all teeth in place, what we eat plays a role in maintaining dental health.
This is another in a long list of how what we eat affects more than just our waist lines.