Along with vegetarianism, another popular diet for losing weight and improving health is a low-carb diet. Diets such as Atkins or the South Beach Diet advocate cutting carbohydrates considerably from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) recommendations. However, does changing your diet in this way put your teeth at risk?
A low-carb diet can be great for your teeth, but it can have an unpleasant side effect of bad breath.
There are many types of bacteria in our mouths, some that are good, some that are harmless, and some that are bad. The bad bacteria in our mouths, the ones that excrete acid to damage our teeth and gums, are those that are adapted to eating carbs, especially refined sugars.
Cutting down on your carb intake, then, can be good for your teeth and gums. Especially if you are cutting mostly sugars and refined grains and continuing to eat whole grains, which are harder for bad bacteria to consume and have many important nutrients for your body. With fewer ready carbs, the good bacteria in your mouth can maintain their advantage, helping to suppress the bad bacteria.
This means fewer cavities and a lower risk of gum disease.
Unfortunately, there is a downside to low-carb diets when it comes to your mouth. A low-carb diet can make your teeth look good, but it may make them smell bad.
Without enough carbs to consume your body will burn fats into energy (depending on your caloric intake, these fats may be excluded from your diet, or they may be stored fat). When your body breaks down fats, it produces organic molecules known as ketones. It uses two of the ketones, while the third ketone–acetone–is waste and must be excreted.
Your body excretes acetone in urine and in a breath. This means that staying on a low-carb diet will lead to acetone breath. You might recognize this smell from older formulations of nail polish remover. And although you might try to conceal the smell with mouthwashes, there’s no way to get rid of it without changing your diet.
Maintaining oral health is part of a generally healthy lifestyle, and your diet has a major impact on that. Fortunately, so does dentistry. We can help you stay healthy in your mouth and in your body.
To learn more about how we can help, please call for an appointment with a Beverly Hills cosmetic dentist at Brighton Dental Clinique.