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Obesity's Impact on Oral Health

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The experts at Precision Nutrition recently wrote extensively about the correlation between obesity and oral health problems.

Excess fat tissue, or adipose tissue, is most often associated with deposits in the liver, but it can also have a significant impact on an obese person's oral health. According to Precision, "Obesity is correlated with adipose tissue being deposited as a lipoma (essentially, a tumour-like mass made of fat) into in the oral cavity, such as inside the lips or cheek (buccal mucosa), on the tongue, or into the salivary glands (sialipoma)."

Inflammation is also a serious problem for obese patients. According to Precision Nutrition, obesity-related inflammation is so serious that it makes obesity second only to smoking as the the most harmful trait for oral health.

The science behind this is that high blood sugar, AGEs and other pro-inflammatory compounds all cause a change in salivary pH. Other problems can include an increase in mucosal cell permeability and an overall increase in oxidants. Of course, teeth and gums are high susceptible to changes in their moist environment, and even a mild change in overall pH levels can have a big impact on gum and tissue health.

Obesity is a sensitive issue for most people. Even those who are well aware of their condition seldom like to be reminded. Deciding whether or not to discuss the oral health affects that obesity can have on your patients can be extremely difficult.

What do you think, would you ever directly mention an employee's increased oral health risk as tied into obesity? Or do you think it is better to inform patients of such conditions through materials like newsletters or waiting room pamphlets?

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