Keto diet – this is all the rage. You have undoubtedly seen and heard how people lose weight from the popular diet. Dental hygienists have a deep understanding of the central role diet can play in oral health and disease. Unexplained gum inflammation may be due to people’s daily diet and may be a small indication of a bigger inflammation problem in the body.
Keto Diet and Oral Health
While many people love the idea of better oral health, there is a connection between the keto diet and oral health that you may not like that: the keto bad breath.
The ketogenic diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet – think meat, fish, cheese, nuts, and low-carb vegetables. And the sugar is noticeably absent! Less sugar in your diet? Your dentist says, “Yes, please!” Eating less sugar (a huge amount of carbohydrates in the Occidental diet) can lead to fewer bacteria on your teeth and in your mouth, which in itself is better for your teeth and gums .
Keto breath usually smells like acetone or fruit unless it’s accompanied by bacteria in the mouth. Then it can smell even more unpleasant, which is commonly referred to as “dragon breath”. It is almost always accompanied by an unpleasant odor. While this unconventional breath can be a signal that the diet is working, most of us don’t want to walk around with bad breath even as we lose weight.
Causes of Keto Breath
The ketogenic diet reduces or limits carbohydrate intake so that the body begins to burn fat instead of glucose. When the body makes this change in fuel for energy, one is in ketosis. Ketosis produces three types of ketones that are by-products of fat: acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate, and acetone.
Keto breath is usually a temporary side effect if your body is not already using all of the ketones the liver makes. The body becomes ketogenic when using these ketones to strengthen the muscles and the brain. Once you get used to the ketogenic diet, the bad breath should subside. Most people report that it only takes a week to a month.
Over 50% of the German population suffer from bad breath, which is caused by volatile molecules caused by pathological or non-pathological problems and which may come from an oral or non-oral source. In addition to being used to store energy, acetone is released from the lungs or from the body through urination. Acetone is the cause of sweet or fruity bad breath in patients with ketoacidosis.
Good oral hygiene is the most important first step in combating this side effect. Think about brushing, interdental cleaning and tongue scraping. Since bad breath comes from the lungs, we recommend sugar-free chewing gum or peppermints, or drinking water all day and adding herbs like clove, mint or cinnamon.
The benefits of reducing carbohydrates
If you can deal with some bad breath, the ketogenic diet has benefits that can help people improve their oral health. Carbohydrates provide bacteria that produce acid and plaque in the mouth and promote biofilm implantation, metabolism activity and colonization.
Limiting the carbohydrates limits the acid erosion of the teeth. Excess carbohydrates promote microbial imbalance and chronic inflammation in the body. High glucose levels also promote apoptosis and inhibit the proliferation of periodontal ligament cells. Research has shown that a low-carbohydrate and low-sugar diet can reduce the formation of tartar, tooth decay and gingivitis by more than 50%, even if you do not change your normal oral hygiene habits.
In 2009, a study of ten participants was conducted to investigate the effects of a Stone Age diet on oral health. This diet is also known as the Paleo Diet, another trend that encourages low-carbohydrate consumption but is less restrictive than the ketogenic diet. For four weeks, the participants had no access to traditional oral hygiene methods and showed an increase in plaque build-up. However, they also showed an improvement in mean bleeding from 34.8% to 12.6% and an average improvement in pocket depths of 0.2 mm. The researchers concluded that the improvement in these indicators could occur because refined sugars were not present in the diet during the study.
The benefits of a low-carbohydrate diet high in omega-3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation and the risk of chronic disease may be worth trying for some. Every person is different. Dental hygienists are in the best position to identify possible nutritional disorders associated with chronic inflammation in the oral tissues and throughout the body. It is always important that dentists refer their patients to their primary care practitioner to discuss how dietary changes could affect their health.
Ketogenic Levels in the Body
If your primary goal for integrating the ketogenic diet into your life is better oral health, a nutritional ketosis of 0.5 millimoles per liter is a good place to start. This may sound confusing, but using a monitoring tool, like a ketone blood monitor, can help keep your keto levels monitored and balanced to improve dental health. The only side effect of increased ketosis is bad breath, which can be easily combated. If the bad breath is very strong, besides increasing your water intake, you can also eat less protein, as the body works hard to break down protein, which can make the bad breath worse.
Nothing will replace brushing and flossing every day to keep your teeth and gums healthy. However, controlling your ketosis level is also of paramount importance to maintaining good oral health. Minimizing sugar and carbohydrates can help achieve a winning smile for life.
No more cavities
Holes in the teeth develop over long periods of time. At some point the dentist will tell you that a filling is necessary. Cavities rely on sugar to destroy tooth enamel and structure. For example, if you forget to brush your teeth regularly, the sugar will stay in place and eat away at the enamel, causing tooth decay.
The ketogenic diet has high fat and limited carbohydrates as part of the structure. There is virtually no sugar in the diet, so it won’t cause any cavities.
If you have any concerns about your oral health while on the ketogenic diet, speak to the dentist. Give him every detail about the restrictions and aspects of your diet and he will be able to educate you further on the subject. In any case, a low-carbohydrate diet has a very positive effect on your oral health, as inflammation is inhibited and tooth decay is avoided.