Ketogenic Diet and Your Oral Health

The ketogenic diet is all the rage right now. But it has both advantages and disadvantages for your general health and for your oral health. Many doctors like the positive aspects of this diet. Most people using the diet are, however, more interested in the weight-loss benefits.

The ketogenic diet calls for very low carb intake, and high fat intake. The absence of sugar or of sugars produced by keto diet - sm - paid - Depositphotos 189396892 s-2019digesting carbs is good for your teeth and gums.

A number of fad diets introduced in recent years have helped people lose weight for the short run, but they have also contributed to a number of harmful effects as well. The keto diet also has advantages and drawbacks.


Ketogenic Diet and Oral Health

The Ketogenic diet offers several oral health benefits. These include:

  • Reduction of plaque buildup. Plaque is caused by the presence of bacteria and tartar on teeth and gums. Those following the strict keto diet limit carbs as much as possible. The carbs are a primary offender because your digestive system converts them to sugar in your bloodstream and in your mouth.
  • Less cavities. As a result of the reduction of plaque buildup, you will have fewer cavities. Over an extended period, you may develop cavities, but the decay process will be slowed by the absence of plaque. Because the keto diet is high in fat and includes lean meat and few carbs, they produce little to no sugars. Without the sugars, cavities do not develop.

There are also drawbacks associated with the keto diet.

  • Because the keto diet is not “balanced,” your pH becomes more acidic. This will likely cause your saliva to taste acidy instead of the sweeter taste you are accustomed to.
  • If you have dry mouth or when your saliva is acidic, there are negative consequences for your teeth and gums. Saliva fights off bacteria and prevents harm to teeth and gums. This will cause problems that your dentist will need to address.
  • “Keto breath” or “dragon breath” is a side-effect of the diet. Typically, your breath will smell acidy or fruity or acetone. If there is bacteria in your mouth, you will intensify this bad breath effect.

Keto Breath

This “keto breath” problem is usually a temporary side effect and it occurs when your body is not using all of the ketones produced by your liver. When your body adapts to the keto diet, it will begin to use the ketones to fuel muscles and your brain. Once your body has fully adapted to the keto diet, the bad breath should disappear. Most people report that it lasts only a week to a month. During the time when you have keto breath, there are steps you can take to prevent or control this side-effect.

  1. Drink more water. When you eat less, you mouth becomes dryer. A dry mouth allows bacteria to accumulate in your mouth. Drinking water will help to rinse bacteria from your mouth and keep you hydrated.
  2. Be meticulous in your oral hygiene regimen. You might want to brush after each meal and floss carefully. Use of an alcohol-free mouthwash is recommended because the alcohol in some commercial mouthwashes will further dry out your mouth.
  3. Chew sugar-free gum or mints occasionally.
  4. If you can “ease into” the diet by eliminating carbs gradually, you may give your body time to adapt to the change and not release as many ketones at once.
  5. Control your stress. Stress reduces saliva and slows digestion of proteins. Stress can also cause acid-reflux, which is bad for your teeth. Learn how to control your stress to help you prevent keto breath.

If you are beginning a keto diet, ask your dentist about how to manage the side-effects of the new diet.