The Connection Between Dental Hygiene And Weight Gain

30 June 2015
 Categories: Dentist, Articles


If you're trying to get your body to a healthy weight, you might be surprised how much your oral health will tell you about how successful you will be in losing weight. There is actually a correlation between being overweight and having a higher instance of dental decay. Your teeth and your weight are related; here are some of the reasons why:

1. Foods that cause weight gain also cause dental caries.

If you have been trying to lose weight, but have been unsuccessful, the amount of cavities you have can indicate the reason why: eating too much sugar and simple carbohydrates. These foods are the biggest contributor to the formation of plaque. Plaque builds up on the teeth and weakens the enamel, leaving the tooth open to decay. Carbohydrates, when eaten in excess, are not used as energy, but are instead stored in the body as fat. If you are not losing weight, or are gaining a few pounds each year while also struggling to keep tooth decay under control, it might be time to assess your overall intake of sugar and white flour. 

2. Alcohol is high in calories, and it is also hard on your teeth.

Sure, red wine might leave the occasional stain, but the impact on your teeth is actually greater than simple cosmetics. Alcohol reduces moisture in the mouth, which means that residual sugars and bacteria are not being constantly swept from the teeth by the flow of saliva. A dry mouth combined with the empty calories of alcohol (1.5 oz of tequila yields a shocking 97 calories) will cause both weight gain and a decrease in oral health. Dry mouth leads to the acceleration of decay simply because bacteria have more opportunity to land and settle on teeth.

3. Weight gain restricts blood flow to the mouth and lowers physical activity levels. 

High sugar and cholesterol levels in the blood over a long period of time can lead to the body developing atherosrerlosis-- the build up of plaque in the blood vessels. As such, blood pressure goes up and the body is at risk for developing type-II diabetes. The diet that leads to these conditions also promotes the growth of bacteria in the mouth. These bacteria have been shown to increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. As these conditions progress, the blood vessels become less efficient at delivering plenty of oxygenated blood to the tissues, including the gums and roots of the teeth. The gums will be at greater risk for developing gum disease, as they will not be as healthy without proper blood flow. 

If blood flow is restricted, exercise also becomes a problem. Working out with high blood pressure or with diabetes is not as easy. Lower activity levels will also contribute to weight gain over time. Those who are overweight or who eat a poor diet will struggle more with dry mouth during exercise, especially if they are not drinking enough water, promoting more decay and increasing the risk of more cardiovascular problems. 

The solution to solving both weight problems and dental problems is rooted in a healthy diet. Replacing simple carbohydrates with more complex foods is a good place to start. Instead of eating candy, drinking soda, or munching on potato chips, opt to eat fresh fruits or nuts and drink milk or water. Talk to your dentist and doctor about lowering your risk for diabetes and other weight related complications through safe exercise. Avoiding alcohol can help. If you must drink, opt for small portions, and try to avoid mixed drinks that have syrup or other sweet additives. Making small changes in your lifestyle will not only change your body, but will also protect your teeth as you age. Check out a local dentist, such as, for more information.