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Low-Carb Diets and Oral Health: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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Many people today use low-carbohydrate diets to help them lose weight or maintain a slim figure. Some dieters claim eating a low-carb diet helps them consume fewer calories without feeling hungry, but others complain of unpleasant side effects. If you are wondering whether a low-carb diet is right for you, you might like to know its likely effects on your dental health.

1. The Good: Protection From Inflammation and Cavities?

Research suggests that a nutrient-rich, low-carboyhdrate diet might help to reduce periodontal inflammation. This inflammation plays a large role in the development of gum disease, so it is important to keep it at bay through rigorous dental hygiene and a good diet. Dentists recommend eating a plant-based low-carb diet with plenty of seeds, berries, and fibrous foods to protect against gum disease. The complex carbohydrates found in vegetables and beans do not have the same strong inflammatory effect as high-glycemic carbohydrates like honey or wheat flour, so it is not necessary to cut carbs from whole foods.

Dentists also recommend that people cut down on sugary foods, like cookies, soda, and juice, to protect themselves from cavities. The sugars in these foods feed the bacteria that cause cavities, so replacing them with high-fat, low-carb snacks like nuts and seeds could help you avoid needing dental fillings.

2. The Bad: Fruit-Phobics Have More Cavities

Some low-carb dieters go further than cutting out cookies and cake. They give up foods many people think of as healthy, such as fruit. Even though fruit is high in natural sugars, it does not seem to pose the same dental health risks as processed sugary foods. In fact, studies show that fruit-eaters have fewer calories than people who don't eat much fruit. If your low-carb diet plan bans bananas and apples, it might be a little too extreme.

3. The Ugly: Low-Carb Can Trigger Bad Breath

Bad breath is a well-known side effect of a low-carb diet. When the body has no carbohydrates to burn for energy, it begins to break down fat instead. While this process is great for kickstarting weight loss, it also produces breath that smells terrible due to the production of a waste product called acetone. Brushing your teeth and chewing sugar-free gum might help to cover up the smell, but it won't eliminate the bad breath as the cause is not in your mouth.

Low-Carb and Oral Health: The Verdict

Low-carb diets have both positive and negative effects on dental health. Before making drastic changes to your diet, talk to your dentist to find out whether the dietary changes you are planning are suitable for your oral health needs.