July 9, 2021
The ketogenic diet has become incredibly popular in recent years and emphasizes low-carb foods like fish, nuts and seeds, non-starchy vegetables like avocados, olive oil, meat, cheese and eggs. And while many people have used it to improve their overall health by managing blood sugar levels and losing weight, you may be surprised to learn there’s also a link between the keto diet and oral health. Keep reading as a dentist explains how this style of eating can lower your risk of cavities and gum disease. You’ll also get tips for managing the dreaded keto breath as well!
The Link Between the Keto Diet and Oral Health
The ketogenic diet drastically reduces your risk of cavities because it cuts out sugary foods and beverages like soda, candies, cookies, dried fruit and juice as well as processed or refined carboyhdrates like grains.
To understand how this works, it’s helpful to know the basics of how cavities develop. Everyone has a type of bacteria in their mouth called Streptococcus mutans which is responsible for tooth decay. This bacteria consumes leftover food debris in the mouth, particularly sugar or carbohydrates, and produces acid as a byproduct. Over time, this acid softens the hard outer layer of teeth called enamel. And while enamel is incredibly hard and tough, repeated acid exposure eventually results in tooth decay.
Studies have also shown that ketogenic diets high in Omega-3 fats reduce inflammation throughout the entire body, including the gums. This decreases the risk of gum disease, which is actually the leading cause of tooth loss.
Tips To Minimize Keto Breath
Clearly, the keto diet has significant benefits for your oral health, but there is one potential downside: keto breath. Fortunately, it’s usually temporary and only occurs in the beginning stages of the diet as your body adjusts to being in a ketogenic state. Regardless, there are several easy things you can do to manage it:
- See a dentist regularly – Regular checkups and cleanings will take care of any plaque and tartar you can’t remove at home to keep your breath fresh and your smile looking and feeling great.
- Practice good oral hygiene at home – Make sure to brush at least twice a day and floss once. Many people also benefit from an electric toothbrush, oral irrigator, interdental brushes or floss picks.
- Chew mint-flavored sugar-free gum – Chewing sugar-free gum not only gives you a minty fresh feeling but also increases salivary flow to naturally counteract bad breath.
While keto breath is certainly less than desirable, it’s also temporary. Not to mention that it’s a small price to pay for better overall and oral health!
About the Author
Dr. Michele Pisano-Marsh has nearly three decades of experience as a general, cosmetic and restorative dentist and is passionate about helping her patients achieve great oral health. With an understanding of how dietary choices impact the teeth and gums, she always encourages patients to minimize sugars whenever possible. If you’d like to know more about the ketogenic diet and oral health or have any other questions, she can be reached via her website or at (610) 432-8037.
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