Dr. Peter, a pediatric dentist and the owner of VK Pediatric Dentistry in Arlington, VA provides some knowledge on how a low carb ketogenic diet can influence and affect your oral health. Dr. Peter specializes in kids dentistry and is a type 1 diabetic who follows the ketogenic diet to maintain control over his blood sugars.
Where Cavities Come From:
The etiology of dental cavities is multifactorial. Streptococcus mutans, a bacteria found in plaque and dental biofilm and the main cavity causing bacteria, is largely considered to be cariogenic through 4 separate mechanisms:
- Adhesion Implantation
- Competitive Colonization
- Metabolic Activity with the Influence of Food Residue
- Thickness of Plaque
The Pros to Low Carb:
Although there are many factors out of our control that can all contribute to oral health, including genetics, race, age, saliva flow and composition, a factor we can control that influences all of the mechanisms above is our diet. Food residues, mainly carbohydrates, have cavity promoting characteristics that promote acid accumulation as a biproduct in bacterial plaque. When there is a restriction of carbs in a diet, it limits an essential factor in the development of cavities. Two Studies, Vipeholm in 1954 and Sreebny in 1982, concluded that very low intakes of sugar resulted in very low cavity scores (and those with high sugar resulted in correspondingly high cavity scores). Furthermore, Carlson and Egelberg found the plaque formation with sucrose was much heavier and thicker than with glucose.
Recently in 2016, researchers in Germany found a reduction in gingival and periodontal inflammation with carbohydrate restricted diets.
So this all sounds good, are there negatives?
One of the most common negative effects ketogenic dieters may experience is halitosis, or bad breath. One of the ketones produced during low carb diets is acetone, which cannot be used for energy and is released through the lungs and urine. Acetone can cause an oral odor. Although some that are ‘keto-adapted’ may find the halitosis subside over time, drinking plenty of water, chewing sugarless gum with xylitol, and proper oral hygiene may mask the bad breath. And if that fails, keep wearing your mask!
To read more from Dr. Peter, go here.