Dental professionals will frequently tell you that there is a relationship between our oral health and our overall health, in both adults and children.
But, a new study by a Swedish academy suggests that dental health and childhood obesity may have several connecting factors.
Focusing on Dental Health May Fight Childhood Obesity
According to a new study from Sahlgrenska Academy in Sweden, discussing dental health with both children and parents can be a key method of preventing children from developing weight issues. One seems to inform and shape the other, according to the thesis of registered dietitian Louise Arvidsson.
In a study, Arvidsson reviewed the eating behavior, body-mass index and dental health of about 270 Swedish school children, comparing their height, weight, and food intake over the course of a day, compared with the “prevalence of cariogenic micro-organisms in (their) saliva,” according to an article on the study in ScienceDaily.com. And Arvidsson immediately spotted a connection: “The children who had higher amount of caries bacteria also had significantly higher BMI and worse eating habits. They ate more frequently and consumed more foods rich in sugar,” according to the article.
Teaching Kids to Eat Healthy Helps Both Bodies and Teeth
One interesting aspect of Arvidsson’s study is that by shifting the conversation to oral health, it may be easier to help kids improve their diet at the same time.
“Weight can be a sensitive subject, but if you talk about eating behaviors alongside dental health, you’re looking at the issue from a different angle,” Arvidsson said. “There is absolutely a possibility to catch these children and talk about food habits… but this needs a good level of collaboration between general dentistry, the child health care and schools.”
Rather than limiting the discussion to weight, making the issue more comprehensive by including dental health could allow that collaboration to occur between health professionals in different fields, according to the article.
It Takes Collaboration
And that collaboration may be vital to fighting a growing issue—according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over the past three decades, childhood obesity has more than doubled among children, and increased by a factor of four in adolescents. This puts children at greater risk of heart disease, diabetes and other health issues later in life.
As these figures continue to increase, dental professionals find themselves in a unique position to talk with both children and parents, as many of the foods and beverages that are particularly bad for one’s teeth (such as sugar-laden sodas) are also contributors to weight gain.
Let’s Continue the Conversation
At Dr. Lordo’s office, helping your children stick to a healthy dental regimen is one of our top concerns. And part of that comprehensive care can involve discussing healthy eating habits that apply not only to your child’s teeth, but to their overall health as well.