Low-carb diets are a popular choice among people who are trying to slim down. Some dieters claim cutting carbs is an easy way to lose weight, but this kind of diet can have some noticeable side effects. Here are three oral health effects of eating a low-carb diet.
Many people assume that cutting carbohydrates out of the diet will protect them from cavities. Oral bacteria feed on sugars, which are found in carbohydrate-rich foods. Many of the foods people eat on low-carb diets, such as nuts, meat, fish, and leafy green vegetables, are low in sugar, which means they do not encourage the growth of bacteria as much. However, it is still important to brush and floss teeth daily to keep bacteria at bay.
Not all carbohydrates are created equal. Even though fruit contains a lot of natural sugar, studies show that people who eat a lot of fresh fruit are less likely to have cavities than people who avoid fruit. You do not have to cut all carbohydrates out of your diet to avoid cavities.
2. Periodontal Disease
Studies show that some carbohydrates can increase inflammation in gum tissue, while a low-carb diet can help to keep periodontal inflammation under control. However, dentists say it is important to differentiate between the different types of carbohydrates. High-glycemic carbohydrates, like those found in refined wheat flour, sugar, and honey, are more likely to promote inflammation than low-glycemic carbs like vegetables and beans.
3. Bad Breath
The major drawback of a low-carbohydrate diet is bad breath. When you stop consuming carbs, your body breaks down fat for energy instead. This process is called ketosis and it produces a waste product called acetone, which the body gets rid of in the air you exhale. Acetone smells a bit like nail polish remover. If you notice your breath smelling strange after you start a low-carb diet, you may find that no amount of brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash can solve the problem.
Do Dentists Recommend Low-Carb Diets?
Many dentists encourage people to reduce the amount of sugar they eat by cutting back on soda and sweet treats. However, most do not recommend removing healthy carbohydrates such as fruits and vegetables. If you are thinking of making a dramatic change in your diet, talk to a dentist first to find out what effect the dietary change is likely to have on your oral health.