Although more research is needed to examine a possible link between obesity and periodontal diseases in children, studies have suggested that obese adults are at increased risk for periodontal disease. The same risk factors may apply to children. While inadequate tooth brushing can lead to tooth decay and gum disease in children, a poor diet that contributes to obesity in children may also be a risk factor for periodontal disease.
Diet: A Contributing Factor
Diet affects both your child's weight and oral health. Consuming high amounts of junk foods and processed foods that are high in calories, sugars, fats, and carbohydrates can lead to obesity and tooth decay.
Like people, oral bacteria love to consume sugar and starches. When bacteria in plaque digest sugars, they produce waste in the form of acid. These acids cause tooth demineralization. This same buildup of bacterial plaque can cause gum disease. When plaque spreads below the gum line, gum tissue can become infected.
Did you know your child can become addicted to food products that contain added sugars? Eating foods with a high refined sugar content spikes blood glucose levels. Rapid spikes lead to rapid falls. When blood glucose levels quickly fall, the drop usually leads to craving more sugar.
Sugar also stimulates the release of dopamine, a brain chemical that gives the body more energy. Not getting enough dopamine can cause food cravings -- particularly sugar cravings -- and lead to overeating. Giving your kids low-fat snacks to control weight doesn't help, as these foods contain more sugar to add taste.
Added Sugar Minus Nutrients
The sodas kids like so much are devoid of the vitamins and minerals the body needs for strong teeth and healthy gums. Drinking soda results in consuming hundreds of empty calories each day, along with coating your teeth with sugar.
Sports drinks aren't necessarily a healthier alternative. While young athletes often consume sports drinks to replace minerals the body loses through exercise, the added sugars they contain do more than provide fuel for energy. They contribute to weight gain and tooth decay.
Relationship of Type 2 Diabetes to Periodontal Disease
Being overweight or obese puts kids at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes. When a person has type 2 diabetes, the body's cells become more resistant to insulin. More body fat means greater insulin resistance.
Diabetes makes a person more prone to infections which may be why periodontal disease is often a complication of diabetes. The American Academy of Periodontology reports that research also suggests periodontal disease can increase blood sugar. High blood glucose levels put individuals with diabetes at risk for infections and other health-related complications.
Although a dentist can diagnose periodontal disease in its early stages, symptoms frequently aren't obvious until the disease progresses. What can you do in the meantime? Encourage your child to eat healthy foods to prevent weight gain and schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings to protect against periodontal disease. For more information, contact Lindsey Metcalf M DDS & Robert Dalton B DDS or a similar location.Share
23 January 2015
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