Your Oral Health and the Keto Diet

What Is the Keto Diet?

You’ve almost certainly heard something about the Keto diet recently. Even if you don’t have friends who are trying to lose weight on it or simply think it will be good for their health, you’ve probably received span email extolling its virtues.

Before going on it, it’s a wise idea to consider how it might affect all aspects of your health including the relationship between keto and dental health. Let’s begin that conversation by reviewing what the keto diet actually is.

Keto is high on fats but very low on carbs. If you’re following it, you’re eating low-carb vegetables, nuts, cheese, fish and meat. What you aren’t eating is sugar.

The Keto Diet, Dental Health, and Cavities

That makes it sound like keto and dental health is a winning combination. Bacteria, after all, thrive on sugar and cause cavities. If you consume less sugar, you’ll have fewer bacteria in your mouth to damage your teeth.

But unfortunately, as with so many things in life, there’s a downside.

The Keto Diet and Keto Breath

When you first go on keto, your body will probably not use all the ketones your liver produces. This can result in your breath having an unpleasant fruit or acetone smell, and if there are too many bacteria in your mouth, the odor can become quite unpleasant and noticeable indeed.

Fortunately, this bad breath is a temporary problem. The body becomes keto-adapted and uses those ketones to power the brain and muscles. This can happen over a month or sometimes even in as little as a week. But you likely would much prefer to avoid the problem entirely.

The Keto Diet: Preventing Keto Breath

A number of the following measures have the advantage that, not only do they fight keto breath, they’re good oral health habits we all should be following anyway.

  • Start the keto diet slowly. Don’t cut out carbs all at once. Cut them gradually over time. That will give your body time to adapt, and you won’t have as many stray ketones released to foul your breath.
  • Maintain a good oral health routine. This may not completely prevent keto breath, but it should help. It’s a good idea to brush after every meal, particularly if you notice you aren’t producing much saliva. It’s equally useful to floss and use an alcohol-free mouthwash every single day. That alcohol-free mouthwash may have a drying effect, but you can counteract that by chewing sugarless gum. The gum should also help to sweeten your breath.
  • Drink plenty of water. When starting the keto diet, it’s common to experience a loss of appetite and eat less. Eating less dries your mouth, and that promotes the growth of the bacteria that make keto breath worse. Consuming lots of water fights this build-up of bacteria and also has the beneficial result of increasing your energy level by keeping you hydrated. People with more energy are more likely to stick to a diet.
  • Control your stress. Stress reduces the amount of saliva you produce and results in dry mouth. Similarly, it slows the speed with which you digest proteins. It can even result in acid reflux, a frequent cause of bad breath. So to fight keto breath, and to promote your oral health and health in general, it’s a good idea to learn and practice ways of de-stressing.
  • See your dentist. A professional teeth cleaning prior to starting the keto diet can go along way toward fighting keto breath. Additionally, your dentist can provide additional tips on how to control the problem.

For help with controlling keto breath or any sort of bad breath or oral health problem, we invite those in the Elmhurst area to contact Kopp Dental for an appointment. We’re here to help you.