Many people are changing their diets to lose weight and improve health. Here in Southern California, home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and the world’s most beautiful people, the pressure to keep fit and trim is particularly high, and many people use a low-carb diet to achieve their goals. This is both good and bad news for your mouth.
The Good News for Your Teeth
A low-carb diet can be good for your teeth, if you’re doing it right.
Bacteria in our mouths feed on anything you eat, but the most harmful bacteria are those that are adapted to utilizing carbohydrates, especially sugars. They convert them into acids, which can eat away at your enamel.
If you cut out most of your sugar intake and refined grains, you eliminate most of the convenient food that these bacteria in your mouth rely on. This will give a competitive advantage to more beneficial bacterial species so there tends to be less harmful bacteria, which will mean fewer cavities and lower risk of gum disease, if you continue to practice good oral hygiene.
The Bad News for Your Breath
But if you think you can switch to a low-carb diet and come out smelling like roses, you’re mistaken. Contrary to the arguments many paleo-diet advocates make, our bodies are adapted pretty well for using carbs for energy, and when you cut them off, your body has to adjust its chemical processes to cope.
In breaking down fats for energy, your body produces ketones, two of which are useful, and the third of which, acetone, is semi-harmful and has to be excreted. This is normal–all body processes produce waste products that are often toxic and need to be removed. Acetone is excreted partly through urine and partly through your breath. This gives your breath a sweet organic smell, like old fingernail polish remover (these days many fingernail polish removers are made without acetone because of concerns about toxicity).
Unfortunately, there’s no way to get rid of this kind of bad breath, other than changing your diet.
Your Diet Affects Your Oral Health
There are actually many ways in which your diet affects your oral health, and sometimes it creates major challenges. If you would like a dentist who will help maintain your health no matter your diet, please call (619) 299-5925 for an appointment with a San Diego dentist at Strober Dental.