March is National Nutrition Month and is hosted every year by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. It strives to bring awareness to the importance of how eating right can help us live longer, healthier lives. When some people consider how nutrition plays a role in their overall health, they may turn to the latest in diet trends. The Keto Diet is no exception. But even though the Keto Diet can help some individuals lose weight, your dentist in St. Joseph knows that there may be some underlying oral health concerns associated with it.
The basis of the Keto Diet involves decreasing the intake of carbohydrates and increasing more high-fat foods, which would cause the body to enter something ketosis. Ketosis occurs when the body burns off fat instead of glucose, including glucose from carbs. While this can help shed the pounds, it also produces three ketones as a result. These three ketones are acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate, and acetone. The latter, acetone, is what may be concerning to your dentist in St. Joseph.
Acetone is something that can’t be used to store energy, so our bodies release it by either urination or through the lungs. When it’s expelled through the lungs, people may start to experience bad breath or halitosis. This foul odor can be combated through good oral hygiene habits such as brushing your teeth and tongue and flossing daily. Chewing gum and drinking plenty of water throughout the day may also help alleviate bad breath caused by the Keto Diet. Additionally, those who are committed to the Keto Diet over a long period of time may become “keto-adapted,” which means the bad breath will go away.
Now, before you bail on the Keto Diet for fear of bad breath, your dentist in St. Joseph wants you to know that there are actually also some potential oral health benefits behind the diet. Carbohydrates contain a lot of sugars, which are one of the worst things for your teeth. When we eat foods that are loaded with carbs, the bacteria in our mouths are essentially given a free meal. As a side effect, these bacteria release acid which can damage tooth enamel and increase the risk of decay. Therefore, reducing the number of carbs you consume, and the sugars found in them, can benefit your oral health. In fact, some research shows that decreasing carbohydrate intake can lower the likelihood of cavities and even gum disease by 50% or more.
The truth is, there are pros and cons to the Keto Diet as it relates to oral health and overall health. It’s important to know that what may work for one person may actually be harmful to another. So before you embark on a new diet, make sure you talk with your doctor to be sure that your dietary plans are appropriate for you and your body.
When it comes to oral health, make sure to talk with your dentist in St. Joseph and your dental hygienist about any changes to health history and even dietary changes. The truth is, things that affect your overall health can also affect your oral health and vice versa, so don’t be afraid to share any changes with your dental team at every appointment so that you’re sure to get the best care that’s most appropriate for you.