At first, the connection between oral health and weight loss might not be fully obvious. Surely diet has something to do with both of them, but beyond that how do they interact? Does brushing your teeth really have anything to do with losing belly fat and maintaining cardiovascular health? The reality is that while dental health and overall health are often treated as separate things, the body is in fact all one system and they interact in complex and occasionally surprising ways. By understanding how they interact and the connections between them, you’ll be en route to both losing weight and maintaining better overall health.
To start with the obvious–yes, diet is a vital part of both overall health and weight loss. The good news is that many of the diet principles that lead to good oral health also lead to weight loss. Avoiding sugary and starchy foods, limiting beverages like alcohol and sugary drinks, and keeping a diet focused on vegetables and lean proteins, you’ll be on the way to maintaining healthy body weight and keeping your teeth and gums happy.
The challenge for many people arises with the realization that this diet takes time to work, in terms of both weight loss and dental health. The temptation to move away from a slow and steady approach to a “miracle diet” or crash diet of some sort may arise, but please don’t succumb to it. In reality, most such diets are very bad for both teeth and weight loss. A prime example–scary from a dental perspective–was the grapefruit diet which was so popular a few years ago. The idea was a diet of primarily grapefruit would support weight loss while still supplying adequate vitamins and minerals in order to support health. In reality, this is bad for your body in a number of ways: the weight loss is unsustainable, you don’t get enough protein or fat to keep you healthy, and your body can develop dietary intolerances after a while. From a dental health point of view, it can be dangerous: a diet focused on citrus introduces citric acid to the mouth all day long, which can weaken enamel and leave teeth vulnerable to damage and decay. Better to focus on a healthy and sustainable diet over the long term.
For weight loss, oral health, and overall health as a whole, hydration is a critical factor. Keeping enough water in your body to enable metabolic functions and adequate saliva production will allow your body to more effectively lose weight and help keep your teeth and gums healthy. There are a number of tricks you can use to ensure you’re drinking enough water, so pick the one that works best for you and follow it regularly. You might just be amazed at how much better you feel!
One of the major goals for weight loss is maintaining cardiovascular health. One of the most surprising interactions within the human body is the one between heart health and oral health. While not fully understood, oral health has an established effect on heart health and vice versa. Maintaining one supports the other, which makes weight loss a shared goal for both cardiovascular health and oral health.
There’s a lot more that could be said on the subject–the interaction between oral health and diabetes is an important topic, as is the connection between oral health and respiratory health. The big takeaway is that your body is one system, and by supporting oral health and weight loss together you’ll be promoting your overall health. We hope that by explaining some of the connections between them, we’ll help you be more successful at both!