Metabolic Syndrome and Oral Health

There is a clearly documented connection between metabolic syndrome and oral health. This connection is important in treating the condition, and you might find it helpful to have your primary care physician and your dentist working together to some extent. Metabolic syndrome affects approximately 23 percent of American adults. It is more prevalent as people age. Every year three million new cases of metabolic syndrome are diagnosed in the U.S.

Incidence of metabolic syndrome in Americans has been studied, resulting in the following findings:

  • 40% of people over age 40
  • 37% of all women
  • 50% of people over age 60
  • Incidence in the pediatric population is increasing.

What is Metabolic Syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome is a convergence of several conditions: high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels. When several of these conditions are found together (metabolic syndrome) you are at increased risk of heart disease, stroke, sleep apnea, neuropathy, some cancers, kidney disease, fatty liver disease, and diabetes. Any one of these conditions in isolation does not indicate metabolic syndrome. It can, however, increase your risk of developing it. Having more than one of the conditions, further increases your risk.graphicstock-belly fat SmMdHxnL

Metabolic Syndrome is also called:

  • Dysmetabolic syndrome
  • Hypertriglyceridemic waist
  • Insulin resistance syndrome
  • Obesity syndrome
  • Syndrome X. 

Symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome

Several indicators of metabolic syndrome have been identified. They are:

  1. Abdominal Obesity. Specifically, a large waist circumference is a highly visible indicator. Large, in this connection, is 35 inches or more for women and 40 inches or more for men. The larger the circumference of the waist, the greater the likelihood of having metabolic syndrome.
  2. Insulin Resistance. Insulin resistance is a condition I which your body cannot use blood sugar or insulin. Untreated, this can lead to pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes. This is the body’s response to its own inability to respond to the body’s increased need for insulin. Without sufficientinsulin, excess glucose accumulates in the bloodstream.
  3. Abnormal levels in the blood. Several abnormalities can be identified in blood tests.
    1. Elevated levels of C-reactive protein in the blood.
    2. High blood pressure (above 130/85 mmHg.
    3. High triglycerides (150 mg per deciliter or 1.7 millimoles per liter or higher).
    4. Reduced high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. (Atherogenic Dyslipidemia)
    5. Elevated fasting blood sugar.
  4. Fatigue or Tiredness. This is particularly important if fatigue is experienced after eating a meal 
  5. Brain fog. This is an inability to focus on something or a specific task appropriately.
  6. Acanthosis Nigricans. This refers to a browning in the folds of your skin, particularly on your neck, armpits or groin and between butt cheeks.
  7. Other physical changes, including frequent urination, abnormal thirst, frequent feelings of fatigue, and blurred vision. 

If you begin to experience one or more of these symptoms, it might be time to visit your physician 

Risk Factors

Diabetes test SM- storyblocks DSC 0777Metabolic syndrome is linked with obesity and inactivity. Certain risk factors raise the chances of developing or having metabolic syndrome. These include:

  • Age. Risk increases with age.
  • Race. In the U.S., Mexican-Americans appear to be at greatest risk of developing the condition.
  • Obesity.
  • Diabetes.
  • Other diseases: cardiovascular disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, polycystic ovary syndrome 

The Oral Health Connection

A clear connection between metabolic syndrome and oral health problems has been documented. Key points in this regard are:

  1. Periodontal disease is an early warning sign for metabolic syndrome.
  2. In one study, untreated periodontal disease was linked to a 3-fold increase in mortality from heart and kidney diseases.
  3. Periodontal disease elevates HBA1C markers and may contribute to the onset of diabetes.
  4. Periodontal therapy can reduce markers of inflammation, preventing heart complications.
  5. Periodontal therapy reduces HBA1C levels, and promotes blood sugar control in diabetics.
  6. Reducing HBA1C levels reduces the risk of death and serious complications from diabetes and heart disease.

Many people, including many dental patients, tend to separate oral health from overall general health. This is not a bad thing, and it is not uncommon. It simply suggests a need for additional information nor education and a shift in perception. At Complete dental care - pixabay cco free commercial use-842314 640Dental Care of Salem, VA, we strive to help every patient understand this broader perspective. We want our patients to think about more than the whiteness of their teeth and the appearance of their smile. We are committed to helping each patient appreciate how oral health affects their overall health. 

We will ask you about risk factors and symptoms of metabolic syndrome, just as we inquire and maintain records regarding sleep apnea and other sleep disturbances. We evaluate patients with risk factors for metabolic syndrome or any of the component conditions in terms of the aggressiveness of each individual’s care plan. All members of our team understand metabolic syndrome and each of us are happy to discuss your health with your primary care physician upon request. 

We know that our patients trust us to identify and understand their needs and to provide the appropriate levels of care to promote both oral health and overall health. We are always eager to answer your questions. The more honest and open you are with us about your general health issues and concerns, the better our responses to your needs will be. 

What You Can Do About Metabolic Syndrome

There are a number of steps you can take to prevent and control the component conditions of metabolic syndrome or metabolic syndrome itself. Among the most important are:

  1. Healthy diet. Two “diets” have been found to be particularly helpful for those with metabolic syndrome: the dietary approaches to stop hypertension (DASH) diet, and the Mediterranean diet.
  2. Lose weight. Reducing body weight is one way to reduce the weight carried around the waist. Maintaining a healthy weight also reduces insulin resistance, blood pressure, and risk of diabetes.
  3. Physical activity. Many physicians recommend 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise each day. This could be something as simple as a 30-minute walk.
  4. 4.Stop smoking. Smoking exacerbates the health effects of metabolic syndrome.
  5. 5.Manage stress effectively. The effects of stress are harmful to overall health and to oral health. Managing stress through exercise, meditation, or other programs will improve your outlook, your energy, and your health.


Metabolic syndrome is pervasive in the U.S. It is a condition that affects millions of people and one that brings serious consequences if not treated appropriately. Oral infections and bacteria contribute to the severity of metabolic syndrome and its component illnesses. Aggressive dental and periodontal treatment and management can help you and your primary care physician manage the condition and improve your quality of life.

If you have metabolic syndrome or one of its components, or if you have risk factors for the condition, please notify us immediately. We will work aggressively with you and your physician to treat any oral health issues that may contribute to or result from the condition. Together, we can make great progress in improving your quality of life and extending your life.  

Sources: -treat-your-patients-effectively.html