Chances are you already know that exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and eating a nutritious diet are great ways to keep your metabolism in good condition. These habits help your body convert food into energy and use that energy efficiently. But did you know that your oral health also impacts your metabolism? Keep reading to learn how poor dental hygiene may lead to metabolic syndrome and how you can keep your smile – and whole body – healthy!
But First, What Exactly Is Metabolic Syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome refers to a group of health conditions that often develop at the same time. Together, they greatly increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. These conditions include:
- Elevated blood pressure
- High blood glucose
- Abnormal levels of cholesterol or triglycerides
If you currently have one of these conditions, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have metabolic syndrome, but you do have an increased risk of severe health concerns. In fact, metabolic syndrome is becoming increasingly common in the United States. As many as one-third of American adults have this condition.
One of the primary reasons why metabolic syndrome can be dangerous is that it can lead to insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone produced by your pancreas that helps your body convert glucose in the foods you eat into energy. When you become less sensitive to insulin, your body cannot create fuel as effectively. This results in high blood glucose levels, which can negatively impact multiple areas of the body over time.
The Link Between Metabolism and Oral Health
As metabolic syndrome becomes more prevalent, experts have discovered that certain oral health problems, like bacteria and inflammation, can play a role. People with gum disease, for example, are more likely to also have diabetes. In fact, about 22% of U.S. adults with diabetes also suffer from chronic gum disease.
Advanced diabetes impairs the body’s ability to fight infections, allowing gum disease to worsen. Late-stage gum disease typically raises blood sugar levels. Both of these conditions ultimately worsen each other.
Tips for Preventing Gum Disease
Luckily, gum disease is largely preventable. Make sure to:
- Floss every day – Flossing is the only way to remove food debris, bacteria, and plaque between your teeth.
- Brush your teeth and gums – When brushing, take the time to gently brush the area where teeth meet gums.
- Clean your tongue – Bacteria can also accumulate on your tongue. Use your toothbrush or a tongue scraper to clean your tongue every time you brush.
- Limit your sugar intake – Consuming too many sugary foods and beverages makes it easier for disease-causing bacteria to thrive in your mouth. Items like soda, candies, and pastries should be consumed in moderation.
- Visit your dentist regularly – You should be seeing your dentist for a checkup and cleaning at least twice a year. Your dentist can detect gum disease in its earliest stages and treat it before permanent damage has occurred.
Poor oral health can affect your metabolism, but by being proactive about your dental hygiene, you can enjoy a healthy smile – and overall body – for years to come!
About the Author
Dr. Matthew Nawrocki is an experienced dentist in Orange Park, FL who earned his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from the University of Florida College of Dentistry. He later underwent advanced training to become a certified prosthodontist. At his practice, he stresses the importance of preventive dental care. To learn more about maintaining good oral health, contact Dr. Nawrocki at 904-272-1588.