In recent years, obesity has become a steadily increasing epidemic around the world and is a cause for serious concern. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the obesity rate has doubled in the last 20 years, more than half a billion adults worldwide are obese and around 3.4 million adults die each year due to health problems caused by obesity.
Medical conditions associated with obesity have been well-documented. Common health problems include heart disease, diabetes, sleep apnoea, fatty liver disease, gallstones, stomach reflux and cancer to name but a few.
However, studies also show that obese patients are more likely to suffer from oral health problems.
Here’s a look at some of the connections between obesity and oral health problems:
Excess Sugar Consumption
Just as excess sugar consumption as the result of poor dietary habits can have a direct impact on weight gain, it’s also the main cause of most oral health problems, especially tooth decay. Sugar is metabolised into plaque acid by oral bacteria. Plaque acid erodes tooth enamel, causes cavities and irritates the gums.
Poor diet choices can also lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies which can compromise immune function. Obese people have increased risk of a lower immune defence, so the body has more difficulty fighting off infections and diseases.
Another common problem in overweight people is acid reflux. Excess belly fat puts pressure on the stomach and acids are regurgitated into the mouth. These burning acids can cause even more damage to your teeth than plaque acids, to the point where the gums recede and roots are exposed.
Prescription medicines used to manage obesity and related conditions can often cause a dry mouth. Saliva helps to wash away acids and oral bacteria. If not enough saliva is produced, it can increase the risk of gum disease and tooth decay.
Type 2 Diabetes
Being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Although it’s still not fully understood why, studies suggest much of the cause is down to excessive belly fat which causes fat cells to release pro-inflammatory chemicals, which in turn can disrupt the body’s ability to respond to insulin.
People with diabetes are more likely to develop oral health problems such as oral thrush, gingivitis and gum disease. Severe gum disease can lead to inflammation throughout the body and can even lead to heart disease and heart attacks.
Less Dental Visits
Inevitably, obese people end up visiting the dentist infrequently or not at all. Many are embarrassed by their condition, however for the majority of obese patients, the problems are the practicalities involved in a dental visit.
Conventional dental chairs are not designed to withstand a lifting weight of more than 140 kgs. Because of their weight and size, obese patients are physically unable to use a conventional dental chair.
Design Specific specialises in the design and manufacture of bespoke dental chair solutions for obese and disabled patients. Specially constructed with wider seating and extra support, our bespoke bariatric dental chairs can accommodate weights up to 500 kgs.
For more advice on our bespoke dental chair solutions, contact us today.