Can A Low-Carb Diet Improve Your Oral Health?

If you're thinking of starting a low-carb diet to improve your overall health, you may not have considered whether or not the diet will have any impact on your mouth. Believe it or not, a diet that's low in carbohydrates can potentially alter the health of your mouth. Read on to learn all the ways that a low carbohydrate diet can drastically affect the health of your mouth.

Slowing Plaque Growth

One of the benefits of a low carbohydrate diet is that you won't be consuming much food that contains sugar or carbohydrates. These two ingredients are what help plaque grow and thrive; if you're not eating them, the plaque's growth will substantially slow down. This will keep your teeth cleaner and increase the amount of time it takes for plaque form, which should help to reduce your risk of tooth decay.

Alternatives to Sugar

Just because you're not eating sugar doesn't mean that sugar substitutes are off limits. Most low carbohydrate diets encourage the use of sugar substitutes like xylitol, which is generally added to things like candy and gum. In addition to not harming your teeth, xylitol has actually been shown to reduce the amount of plaque on teeth, and it cuts down on the bacteria that creates plaque in the first place.

Loosening Plaque

Drinking more liquids when you're on a low carb diet is a necessity in order to maintain your health. The body tends to need more hydration while on a low carb diet, since you're eating fewer foods that naturally contain large quantities of moisture, like fruit. Since you'll be sipping liquids all day, you'll wash away bacteria and loosen food debris from your teeth and gums.

Bad Breath

Unfortunately, it's not all good news when it comes to low carbohydrate diets. One of the main complaints that low carb dieters have is that the diet can sometimes cause bad breath, otherwise known as halitosis.

The good news about this problem is that it's not due to poor oral hygiene. Instead, it's a side effect of the diet itself: your body produces ketones to use as energy, since you're no longer consuming sufficient glucose to use that as energy. Ketones can make your breath smell metallic or stinky, and brushing your teeth won't help.

If you're interested in starting a low carbohydrate diet, you should keep all of this in mind. Your oral health will probably improve due to the diet, but you might have less-than-sweet breath, too. If you have further questions about the possible changes to your oral health, talk to a dentist, like Dr. Timothy Gilchrist Family Dentistry, before beginning your diet.