A ketogenic diet or a keto diet is getting popular these days.
People are focusing so much on weight loss to achieve good health, that they are paying less attention to the effects of these diets on oral health.
A keto diet is a diet in which a person follows a high fat, low carbohydrate, and adequate protein diet.
Due to low sugars or glucose levels, this diet forces the body to burn fats into ketones to release energy. Hence the name is keto diet.
Following a particular kind of food has effects on oral health too.
Generally, the main culprits for tooth cavities, bad odor, and gum infections are carbohydrates and sugar.
A ketogenic diet is low in carbs and refined sugars which eliminates a lot of problems associated with sugars.
However, the change in the carbs intake causes an imbalance in your diet which can also lead to other effects for your oral cavity.
Let’s have a look at how a keto diet affects your dental health
1. Keto diet reduces the build-up of plaque
Carbohydrates are the main reasons for the plaque build-up in your mouth.
Our digestive system converts the carbohydrates into sugar which in turn moves into our blood and mouth. Increased sugar in your mouth is like a meal buffet for plaque-causing bacteria.
The accumulation of plaque on your gums and teeth demineralizes your teeth, causing decay and caries.
It usually occurs in every person’s mouth, but the excess formation of plaque leads to teeth and gum infections.
Keto diet focuses on having a low carb diet. Limited intake of carbs means less sugar formation, which protects the teeth from plaque attack.
Therefore, a low carb diet will lead to healthier teeth and gums.
2. Ketogenic diet prevents dental cavities
Cavities in our teeth occur due to excess sugar intake that causes holes in our teeth. When the sugar particles get stuck in the teeth even after brushing, it accumulates as plaque.
Accumulation of sugar for an extended period in the corners of the teeth is the main reason for degraded tooth enamel and tooth structure.
According to studies, whenever your mouth comes across any sugar item, the bacteria in your mouth produce acid. This acid erodes the teeth causing cavities. These days many kids suffer from dental cavities.
Installing dental crowns in their mouths is a long-lasting and feasible option. You can visit your dentist for recommendations on crown pediatrics.
A less invasive way of preventing cavities will be to reduce sugar intake. A ketogenic diet follows a no-sugar diet structure. Therefore there are no chances of getting cavities while following a keto diet.
Alternatively, you can also replace sugar with low carb sweeteners like stevia, sucralose, and erythritol. These are suitable substitutes for sugar and curb your sweet cravings.
3. Keto diet reduces Gum Disease
The roots of the teeth, also called gums, need to be disease-free and robust.
According to a study, you can prevent gingivitis and periodontal disease by having a diet low in sugars and high in healthy fats.
While following a keto diet, you reduce the sugar intake, which is helpful for healthy gums. Too much sugar in the bloodstream causes infections in your teeth, gums, jaws, and tongue.
High glycemic carbohydrates cause inflammation of the gums. It can cause gingivitis and periodontitis. The common symptoms of gum diseases are swollen, red, and bleeding gums.
If you follow a keto diet, you can save your teeth from these dental issues. Another vital component of a keto diet is essential fatty acids or omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 is a potent anti-inflammatory nutrient. It can shield your teeth and overall health from inflammation and infections.
4. Ketogenic diet leads to acidic saliva and dry mouth
The previous points showed some benefits of a keto diet.
However, there can be some cons when you consider oral health. In a keto diet, the body breaks down fats into ketones.
Ketones are primarily acidic in nature. As a result, your blood pH and saliva pH drops.
It means that your saliva becomes acidic. A diet rich in carbs would otherwise keep your saliva sweet.
So, when the saliva is acidic, you tend to suffer from oral health issues. Saliva plays an essential role in fighting off germs and protecting the gums and teeth from harm.
Because of acidity of the saliva and dryness in your mouth, your teeth enamel and your gums suffer. You may have to visit your dentist to address this issue of dry mouth and acidic saliva.
5. Keto diet causes Bad breath
According to an article by Colgate, the keto diet has an adverse impact on your oral hygiene in the form of bad breath.
When you are eating more fats and fewer carbs, the body is running low on glucose for energy metabolism. Hence, it starts to break the fats into ketones to deliver energy.
However, one of the ketones developed as a by-product of energy metabolism is acetone. Acetone is notorious for its strong smell which is too sweet and fruity.
It results in bad breath or also called as ketosis breath. Also, your mouth tends to have a metallic taste. Many people complain of having a nail polish remover like taste and smell in their mouths.
To cover this bad breath problem, you can have sugarless chewing gums, drink lots of water, and add fresh herbs to your tea or beverages.
The issue of bad breath remains only in the short-term. As the body moves on from the initial ketosis stage to the long term keto-adapted stage, the bad breath also disappears.
Therefore, the bad breath due to keto diets is not permanent.
In conclusion, you should avoid refined sugars or processed forms of carbohydrates in your diet to ensure healthy gums and teeth.
Keto diets are enormously helpful in maintaining overall good dental health.
Apart from the drawback of lousy breath, keto diet supplements your oral health with healthy fats, rich anti-oxidants, and low sugars.
This diet is mostly anti-inflammatory and reduces your chances of having teeth or gum infections.
However, you should bear in mind that a keto diet is one of the parameters of healthy teeth.
It does not guarantee dental treatments. Therefore, if you have any dental issues, before changing your diet, make sure to visit your dentist for a consultation.