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News / July 6, 2011

Obesity contributes to poor oral health

by Guy Hiscott

A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology* has revealed the higher the severity of tooth decay, the higher proportion of subjects with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or over. This figure, according to the World Health Organization, is generally considered as obese.

In 2008, 1.5 billion adults, aged 20 and older, were overweight. Of these, over 200 million men and nearly 300 million women were obese, a trend also reflected in the results of the study.

Chief executive of the International Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, said: ‘Periodontal pockets are essentially food and plaque traps that irritate and decay teeth to the point the tooth will eventually fall out.

‘There has been much discussion about broadening the role of the dentist to check for illnesses such as diabetes, and when it comes to obesity, there is definitely a case for doctors relaying information on how their diet is directly affecting their oral health.’

Studies and experts have pointed to grazing and snacking as a possible cause in the rise of obesity. A team from the University of North Carolina (Duffey KJ, Popkin BM, 2011) analysed data from food surveys carried out in the United States during the 70s, 80s, 90s and the last decade, and while obesity rose in each, increases in the number of eating occasions and portion size seem to account for most of the change.


* Saxlin T et al (2011), Association between periodontal infection and obesity: results of the Health 2000 Survey. Journal of Clinical Periodontology 38: 236–242