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Nearly 30% of the world’s population is overweight, according to an article published February 2018 by the World Health Organization; more specifically, 10% of the world’s population is obese, according to a study published by The New England Journal Of Medicine in 2017. Since 1975, worldwide obesity has almost tripled and it’s on the rise unless something is done about it.
The rise in global obesity rates over the last three decades has been substantial and widespread, presenting a major public health epidemic in both the developed and the developing world. Overweight and obese people need to work in an effort to reduce their weight to limit the risk of developing health problems.
Dieting is a vital part of losing weight, and it is an important factor to maintain good oral health.
There are several diet plans to help people struggling with their weight. With the rising popularity in dieting, several questions have been brought up. Are these diets effective and beneficial in maintaining good health? Or are they harmful for the overall health, specifically oral health?
These are some of the questions that dentists have pondered in response to more people making an effort to combat obesity. Below I will try to highlight the best and the worst diets and their relation with oral health.
According to US. News & World report’s Best Diet Ranking for 2018, the two diets that tied for the top spot are the Mediterranean Diet and DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), and the Fad and Keto Diet tied for last on the list.
Both the Mediterranean and Dash Diets have been linked to healthier hearts by reducing high blood pressure. Eating a heart-healthy diet is associated with better dental health, according to a study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. This study followed 533 men over a 20-year period; the men whose diets matched the DASH diet scored a 30% lower chance of developing new or repeated root cavities (Harvard Health Publishing). Both Diets are rich in fruits, vegetables, and grains. Eating fruits like apples and pears are recommended due to their high water content which dilute the effects of sugar and acid on the teeth, and stimulate the saliva production which helps by washing away food particles and buffering acid.
A Mediterranean diet can lower the risk of developing mouth cancer due to the lack of processed food according to a study published in British Journal of Cancer in 2014.
Research suggests that people with diabetes are at high risk for oral health problem such as gingivitis, periodontitis, and dry mouth. This is because they are more susceptible to bacterial infection.
The American Diabetes Association in its 2013 position statement “Nutrition Therapy Recommendations for the Management of Adults with Diabetes”, encourages the Mediterranean-style pattern and the DASH plan due to their proven effect to improve insulin resistance and glycemic control.
The Mediterranean Diet can almost cut the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease in half according to a study published in the European Journal of Neurology; the study revealed healthy eating slashed the risk of the brain disorder by up to 46%. There is a strong correlation between Parkinson’s Disease and dental and oral health problems due to the buildup of plaque, which is the starting point for most of oral and periodontal problems.
The Fad Diet eliminates one or more of the essential food groups, or recommends the consumption of one type of group in excess at the expense of the others.
In an article published by the Journal of the American Dental Association about the Fad Diet “facts for dental professionals”, Dr. Mobley addresses the relation between Fad Diet practice and oral health status. The article explains that some type of fad diet patterns can lead to potential harmful and negative health outcomes. For example:
- High protein diets increase body water excretion and may be associated with Xerostomia.
- High carbohydrate, low fiber diet including nutritional bars can increase caries risk.
- Recommending the intake of caffeine-rich calorie-free drinks may cause dehydration of oral tissue and dental erosion.
Diets that restrict the intake of fruits, vegetables, and grains may alter the immune response and can affect indirectly the dental restorative treatment.
Conversely, the Keto Diet (ketogenic diet), a low-carb diet, can help to reduce blood sugar levels of those with type II diabetes. This corresponds to a reduced risk in developing gum and periodontal disease. A low-carb diet limits an essential factor for development of caries.
With that said, low-carb diets can have a negative effect on the oral cavity by a process known as ketosis in which the breakdown of fats result in three ketones. One of these ketones is called acetone and it can not be used by the body so it’s exhaled by the lungs causing halitosis (bad breath). Several studies on animals and one small study on humans showed that ketogenic diet can be a promising therapy for treating Parkinson's disease. The disease can affect the oral health of the patient in many different ways.
It is imperative to find a healthy eating style and incorporate it into your routine. In combating obesity, adopting a healthy diet is essential to maintaining good health, specifically oral health, and reducing the risk of disease.