July 28, 2020

The keto diet has been growing in popularity in the last few years. You’ve probably either tried it yourself or have a friend who has. The goal of the diet 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 so that the body burns 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. 

Pros: Benefits for Your Mouth and Body

Less Plaque 

Following a keto diet affects your oral health by reducing plaque build-up. Eating sugar can feed the bacteria in your mouth that feeds on it and, along with tarter, becomes a film called plaque. The plaque will eat away at your enamel and irritate your gums, leading to oral problems down the line. While plaque may sound scary, everyone will deal with it in life. 

Even healthy foods that are a part of a balanced diet, such as fruits and grains, contain sugar that affects 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 mostly responsible for all of the sugars in your bloodstream and mouth. You’ll experience much less tooth erosion and decay if you aren’t eating sugars. Of course, you still need to brush and floss regularly to keep your mouth healthy, but it’s never wrong to reduce the factors that can harm you. 

Fewer Cavities

Less plaque also means fewer cavities. Sugars that stay on your teeth lead to dental decay. The bacteria that causes decay thrives in a sweet environment. Avoiding dietary sugars can reduce the likelihood of developing dental cavities. A low-carb diet without 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 form cavities. 

Cons: Negative Side-effects of a Keto Diet

Dry Mouth: 

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. 

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 usually 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 healthy balanced diet. The real problem, however, 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. 

Keto Breath

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 the conversion of 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. We recommend a visit to Scott Edwards DDS to check for potential problems. 

If you really can’t stand keto breath, there are some treatment options that may help: 

  • Chew sugar-free gum between meals. 
  • Make sure to brush and floss regularly. 
  • Drink plenty of water. This helps clear ketones from your system. 
  • Use mouthwash when you notice an odd smell. 
  • 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. 

how keto affects dental health

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 is also paramount to maintain good oral 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 Memphis, Germantown, or East Memphis area, contact Scott Edwards DDS to make a plan to improve the health of your body and your mouth.