The Keto Diet – it’s all the rage. No doubt you’ve seen and heard about people losing weight on the popular diet. Any time we hear about trendy diets, we are the first to question how they will impact your oral health. Are the keto diet and oral health compatible?
Keto Diet and Oral Health
The keto diet is a very low carb, high-fat diet – think meat, fish, cheese, nuts and low-carb veggies. Noticeably absent? Sugar! Less sugar in your diet? Your dentist says, “Yes please!” In fact, eating less sugar (a huge carb in the American diet) can lead to fewer bacteria on your teeth and mouth which in itself is better for your teeth and gums
While many people love the idea of better oral health, there is one connection between the keto diet and oral health that you may not love: keto breath.
Keto breath usually has acetone or fruity smell, unless accompanied with bacteria in the mouth, then it can have an even more unpleasant smell, commonly referred to as “dragon breath.” Almost always it is accompanied by an unpleasant smell. While this funky breath can be a signal of the diet working, most of us don’t want to walk around with bad breath, even if we’re losing weight.
Causes of Keto Breath
Keto breath is typically a temporary side effect when your body is not yet using all the ketones the liver is producing. Your body will become keto-adapted when it starts using these ketones to fuel the muscles and brain. When you become keto-adapted the bad breath should subside. The good news is that you will not have to deal with keto breath for long- most people report that it lasts as little as a week to a month.
How to Prevent Keto Breath
Keto diet and oral health are a great mix because the suggestions for preventing keto breath are all simply good oral care habits anyone should adopt. Here are a few tips to prevent the dreaded keto breath.
Drink lots of water. Your body quits producing saliva when you don’t eat, and when starting the keto diet you naturally start to lose your appetite and eat less. The less you eat the dryer your mouth gets, so it is necessary to drink plenty of water to prevent bacteria from building up in your mouth. You will find that if you stay hydrated you will have more energy too, which you need when starting a new diet of any kind.
Keep up with a good oral health routine. Even though you may still experience keto breath after brushing, if you are not producing much saliva, it is a good idea to brush after every meal. It is also very important to floss and even use an alcohol-free mouthwash daily. Mouthwashes with alcohol tend to have a drying effect, so avoid those, and to keep your mouth from getting dry between brushing, and to freshen your breath further, try chewing some sugar-free gum.
Take it slow. Rather than jumping all in, gradually cut carbs out of your diet rather than cut them out drastically. By doing this, it gives your body time to adjust to the change and not release as many ketones at once. You are basically giving yourself time to “adapt” or acclimate to the keto diet, and therefore may by-pass keto breath.
Keep stress levels down. Finally, de-stress yourself. This is always important, but especially so when going on the keto diet. Stress not only reduces the flow of saliva (think of getting dry mouth when going to talk to the boss), but it also slows the digestion of proteins. Anxiety can also cause acid reflux, which is known to cause bad breath. Finding ways to de-stress is important when starting a new diet, so learn techniques for doing this if you haven’t already.
While keto breath may be embarrassing, it may be a great way to achieve and maintain overall health. Your dentist can give you a head start with complete teeth cleaning before you start your keto diet and give you more information on how to treat keto breath.
We love our patients and love to help them form healthy dental life that will last them a lifetime. For more information call us today to answer all of your questions so get an appointment today.