We’re finding out more and more everyday how much oral health is related to overall bodily health. When it comes to being overweight or obese, the American public has been learning more and more about unusual, seemingly unrelated things can contribute to obesity. One of the more recent assertions is that a person’s teeth can be linked to obesity.
The link between oral health and obesity comes most directly from a 2009 study published in the Journal of Dental Research. The study had drawn a pretty fascinating conclusion: Classification tree analysis of salivary microbiological composition revealed that 98.4% of the overweight women could be identified by the presence of a single bacterial species—Selenomonas noxia—at levels greater than 1.05% of the total salivary bacteria. These results were measured against a control group made up of non-obese participants. The control group had significantly lower levels of this species of bacteria. These results would seem to certainly suggest a connection between obesity and dental health. But that doesn’t mean the relationship is causal.
In all likelihood, the connection between poor oral health—or the presence of this species of bacteria—and obesity is not causal. It isn’t like the Selenomonas noxia is some how making you fatter. Instead, the presence of this bacteria is symptomatic of an obese person’s diet. It’s basically common knowledge at this point that sugary beverages and foods aren’t good for the teeth. They create an environment that enables bacteria not only to live, but thrive in your mouth. Eating sweets, therefore, will expand your waistline and promote the growth of bacteria in your mouth. By changing your diet from a highly processed food, high in sugar to one that is less processed and lower in sugar content, you’ll hit two birds with one stone. It will help you lose weight, but also assist you in restoring your gums and teeth to their ideal level of hygiene.
The bacteria species, Selenomonas noxia, is part of the genus selenomonas, a group of bacteria that tend to thrive in the gastrointestinal tract—and usually that of an animal. So why is it making a home in people’s mouths? Selenomonas love warm, anaerobic environments. Such an environment is found in the intestines, but also notably in human gingiva. The presence of high quantities of this specific bacteria could be an indicator of an overall change in your mouth’s microbial ecology. The bacteria doesn’t cause obesity, but it is certainly a sign that you’re eating a considerably poor diet.
Dr. Potts is a gentle, caring dentist who uses the most advanced materials and procedures available. He practices comfortable, health-centered dentistry, with a strong emphasis on getting to know each patient. In addition to his technical proficiency, Dr. Potts is a careful listener. He makes sure to understand what you want and will explain beforehand what treatment is best for your individual needs, along with all options available to you. Check out our Twitter, Facebook page, and website.