The ketogenic diet and healthy teeth
-A Guest Blog By Nicholas Napier –
The keto diet continues to grow in popularity and new benefits are regularly being studied and discovered. While its astounding weight loss potential has been established, many continue to follow keto for the advantages it provides for other aspects of your health. From reducing food cravings to enabling you to live with more energy, the effects of ketosis have proven to be much more substantial than those of other diets. One of the lesser known ways that keto can improve your appearance is in the benefits it provides for your smile.
Many Benefits, Same Reason
If you’ve had issues with your dental health, switching to the keto diet offers major advantages that can set you on the path to a better smile. For the most part, the fact that the keto diet eliminates high-carbohydrate foods from your diet is the core reason for the advantages to your smile. What’s interesting is that the lack of carbs benefits your dental health in several key ways.
1. The Keto Diet Can Reduce Gum Disease
Inflammation in the body is often a sign of declining health or oncoming problems. In his book, The Inflammation Syndrome, author Jack Challem discusses a clear link between your diet and the health of your gums. In this excerpt, he confirms the benefits that a low-carb diet can have on your gums:
“It is not as well known that sugary foods increase gingival inflammation. Cutting the consumption of sugary foods and soft drinks reduces gingivitis, just as increased intake of protein and eating less refined carbohydrates . . . reduces gingivitis.”
When it comes to the link between gum health and your diet, it’s as simple as not eating the carbs that stick to the base of your teeth and cause gum disease. It’s important to note that this doesn’t just include products like refined sugar and corn syrup, but also breads, rice, potatoes, and any grain-based foods.
2. Keto is Excellent for Preventing Cavities
Cavities, also known as dental caries, are essentially craters where decay has eaten through your teeth. The primary cause is sugars that stick to your teeth for prolonged periods of time, until they attract bacteria and plaque. All carbohydrates have traits that contribute to the accumulation of acid and development of cavities. Since the keto diet inherently minimizes these cavity-causing carbs, it’s easy to see how it’s a great way to reduce dental caries.
3. Carbohydrates Secrete Acid Even After You Consume Them
In a study of dental caries and the bacteria that causes them, carbohydrates were found to neutralize the cleaning effect of saliva. In his book Medical Microbiology, Samuel Baron breaks down the effect of consuming fermentable carbohydrates:
“The tooth surface normally loses some tooth mineral from the action of the acid formed by plaque bacteria after ingestion of foods containing fermentable carbohydrates. This mineral is normally replenished by the saliva between meals. However, when fermentable foods are eaten frequently, the low pH in the plaque is sustained and a net loss of mineral from the tooth occurs. This low pH selects for aciduric organisms, such as S mutans and lactobacilli, which (especially S mutans) store polysaccharide and continue to secrete acid long after the food has been swallowed.”
What this excerpt shows is that carbohydrates, more than any other type of food, have the potential to neutralize your saliva and attract bacteria that continually produce acid in your mouth. With its emphasis on consuming little to no carbs, the keto diet perfectly counteracts this effect.
4. The Keto Diet Greatly Reduces the Phytic Acid You Consume
Minerals are among the most underestimated nutrients. Mineral deficiencies can cause you to lose your hair, develop diseases, or suffer worsening conditions for your teeth.
Phytic acid is found in a wide variety of foods, but it’s heavily-present in grains. The main effect that phytic acid has on your health is that it impedes mineral absorption. This means that phytic acid prevents your teeth and other parts of your body from receiving the crucial minerals they need for maintenance and growth.
In a study that was published in the British Medical Journal, Dr. Mellanby separated three groups of children with cavities, fed each group a different diet, and monitored the outcome. The results overwhelmingly showed that children who consumed diets low in phytic acid healed exponentially quicker than the other groups. This study and others show that diets low in carbs, and therefore, low in phytic acid, are far superior options for your oral health.
Can Damage to Your Teeth Be Reversed?
While the keto diet is effective for preventing dental damage, if your teeth have already suffered the effects of a lifetime of sugar and carbs, professional help from a dentist who offers cosmetic procedures may be required. Just as there is a strong connection between nutrition and oral health, the connection between keto and a healthy smile is strong as well. Ultimately, following keto won’t reverse damage that has already occurred to your teeth, but it can prevent further damage from occurring.
Try the Keto Diet for a Lean Body and Healthy Smile
Despite all of the research that exists touting the many benefits of keto, there is still much more to learn about this life-changing dietary lifestyle. No other diet boasts significant weight loss benefits, boosts to your energy level, and has studies confirming that it’s great for your teeth as well. Whatever your reasons for trying the keto diet, there are numerous ways that it can improve your health and help you achieve your fitness goals.