Odds are, you’ve heard of the keto diet. The diet’s goal is to put the body into a state of ketosis, which is when your body starts burning fat for energy instead of burning carbs and sugars. To put your body in this state, you eat and low-carb, high protein and fat diet. Many have found success in restricting their carb intake to burn fat instead of glucose to lose weight. Whether you’ve already done your research and are a firm believer in the benefits of this popular diet or your curiosity has just recently been sparked, how a keto diet affects dental health is worth considering.
Cons: Negative Side-effects of a Keto Diet
If you’ve researched the diet or have friends already on it, you may have come across the term “keto breath.” Reducing carbs can result in an odd oral odor, caused by converting fatty acids into ketones rather than from dental decay or oral infections. Ultimately, it’s more annoying or embarrassing than it is harmful to your oral health.
Keto breath is recognizable because of the metallic nature of the odor. Some describe it as nail-polish like. Bad breath with other characteristics, it may be a sign of an issue with your teeth or gums, and we recommend a visit to Cashmere Family Dentistry to check for potential problems.
If you really can’t stand keto breath, some treatment options may help:
- Chew sugar-free gum between meals.
- Drink plenty of water. This helps clear ketones from your system.
- Use mouthwash when you notice an odd smell.
- Make sure to brush and floss regularly.
- Infuse pleasant-smelling herbs in water or tea.
Bad breath is typically short-lived and will go away on its own. If you really can’t stand keto breath, you may need to consider a diet with a different nutritional balance.
A keto diet, though it can help you lose weight and may help you manage some medical conditions, doesn’t maintain the ideal balance of some of the elements your body needs to stay healthy in the long-run. Because you aren’t consuming a balanced diet, your internal pH becomes more acidic.
The fact is, not all carbs are bad for you, and a truly balanced diet for the average person includes complex carbohydrates that can help you stay energized and provide many vitamins minerals and fiber. Without the glucose that is normally in your diet, your saliva can become more acidic. Any acid taste is from the comparison to the sweet taste you get while following a normal balanced diet. However, the real problem is that more acidic saliva, which can leave your mouth dry, isn’t good for your teeth and gums. Saliva naturally fights off germs and protects the many kinds of tissues in your mouth from harm. Both the acidity and dryness caused by a keto diet will cause oral issues in the long term.
Pros: Benefits for Your Mouth and Body
One of the most notable oral health benefits associated with a keto diet is reduced plaque build-up. Consuming sugar can promote bacteria in your mouth that feeds on sugar. Along with tarter, it becomes a film called plaque. The plaque will erode your enamel and irritate your gums, causing many kinds of oral problems. It’s almost impossible to go through life without some amount of plaque build-up.
Even healthy foods that are a part of a balanced diet, such as fruits and grains, contain sugar that will contribute to bacteria and acid in your mouth. However, if you’re following a keto diet, you cut out almost all foods that contain enough sugar to feed bacteria. Carbs are largely responsible for all of the sugars in your bloodstream and mouth. Without those sugars, you’ll experience significantly less tooth erosion and decay. Of course, you still need to brush and floss regularly to keep your mouth healthy, but it’s never bad to reduce the factors that can harm you.
Less plaque also means fewer cavities. Sugars foster dental decay. The bacteria that causes decay thrives in a sweet environment, feeding off the sugars that stick around in your mouth. Avoiding dietary sugars can reduce the likelihood of developing dental caries. A low-carb diet that’s void of candy, sugary fruit, sugar-filled juices, baked goods, soda, and other similar foods/beverages can help to keep your mouth healthy. The ketogenic diet has high fat, lean meat, and limited carbs as part of their structure. There are practically no sugars in the diet, so it won’t contribute to the formation of cavities.
When it Comes to Dental Health, Trust the Experts
Remember to always check with your dentist and physician before starting a new diet. They’ll help you find the right plan to meet your needs. For instance, there are ways to modify the eating plan, such as reducing your carb intake without going full keto that may be a better option for some people. If you do decide to tackle it full force, seek out alternative sources of fiber such as avocados and almonds. Taking measures to improve your health is always a win. Just remember to be mindful of what’s best for your body, health, and lifestyle.
Nothing will ever replace daily brushing and flossing to keep your teeth and gums healthy. But managing your ketosis level can go a long way when it comes to dental health. Minimizing sugars and carbohydrates can help achieve a winning smile for life. Chances are you want a healthy smile to match your healthy body. A dental examination and professional cleaning are essential. If you’re in the Cashmere or Wenatchee area, contact Cashmere Family Dentistry to make a plan to improve the health of your body and your mouth!