Many medical professionals consider obesity to be a chronic disease. According to the Heart Foundation, South Africa has the highest overweight and obesity rate in sub-Saharan Africa, with up to 70% of women and a third of men being classified as overweight or obese. Research has demonstrated that obesity will increase the risk for hypertension, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, CVD, respiratory problems, and endometrial, breast, prostate, and colon cancers.1 It has also been demonstrated in a recent research study that obesity also increases the risk for periodontal disease, and it may be insulin resistance that regulates the relationship between obesity and periodontal disease.1 It has also been found that individuals with elevated body mass indices (BMI) produce a higher level of inflammatory proteins.1
The classifications of being overweight and obese can pertain to more than 60 percent of American adults. It is even higher for some high-risk populations, such as African-American women, placing these individuals at greater risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Some authorities estimate that two out of three Americans are overweight or obese, and projections of obesity trends for the future indicate an increase in the incidence of obesity in the general population.1
It is very critical for individuals to understand the obesity epidemic and to take proactive steps in addressing this issue with themselves and family members who are obese. Good nutrition and exercise should be stressed and individuals should be educated on the role that obesity may play in the development of diabetes, CVD and cancer.
The dental professional will take a thorough medical history and review any medical issues which may point to the cause for the obesity and refer the patient to his/her physician for evaluation. The oral health status will also be evaluated and treatment rendered based on the diagnosis. Emphasis will be placed on the reduction of the plaque and accompanying inflammation, both above and below the gumline. Home care should be reinforced, and patients should be encouraged to floss regularly and to brush twice daily with a toothpaste that offers antibacterial protection.
© Copyright 2009 Colgate-Palmolive Company
1. Grand Rounds in Oral and Systemic Medicine Vol.1, No 2, 2006, pp. 36 - 47