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The Keto Diet and Oral Health

Mar 12, 2020

By Dean George

Diets are like wind gusts – they come, and they go, but one diet currently on the fab fads list is worth a second look, because it can lead to better dental health.

The Keto Diet 

“Keto” is shorthand for Ketosis which is a metabolic state your body enters when it doesn’t have enough carbohydrates or sugar.   

Modern diets and most processed foods today contain an overabundance of carbs and sugar. The “key to Keto” is that limiting your carbs and sugar puts the body in a fasted state and forces it to burn the fat it has stored for energy.  

The burned fat cells manufacture ketones, an energy source believed to be healthier and more efficient than energy generated primarily by carbs and sugar.  

Classic keto advocates a 4:1 ratio of protein to carbs, with 90 percent of calories coming from fat, six percent from protein and just four percent from carbohydrates.  

What does all this have to do with healthier teeth and better oral health?  

5 Ways a Keto Diet Improves Oral Health 

1) The keto diet reduces sugar consumption two ways: first, it eliminates sugar itself, and secondly, it restricts carbs that break down into sugars as they are digested.  Reduced sugars in the mouth help reduce plaque and curb tartar development. 

2) As mentioned in a previous Dental Wire article, not all oral bacteria are bad. Your mouth is a fragile balance between healthy non-pathogenic and harmful bacteria.  Keto promotes foods that help foster and maintain healthy oral bacteria. 

3) The keto diet also promotes Vitamin K2, a crucial nutrient most people don’t eat enough of on a regular basis. Vitamin K2 can help remineralize teeth, halt acid erosion and nurture good bacteria needed for a healthy mouth. 

4) Keto is an excellent means of stopping inflammation that may cause gum (periodontal) disease and gingivitis. Treating gum disease with diet attentiveness is much easier than paying for deep cleanings two or three times year. 

5) Vitamin K2 and calcium are core nutrients in the keto diet, and both are essential to strong teeth and healthy bones.  The cheeses, butter and eggs included in the keto diet are excellent foods for children and adults requiring orthodontic treatment. 

Keto Diet Foods 

Protein – beef, pork, fish, chicken, soybeans, eggs and shellfish
Dairy – yogurt, milk and cheese products
Non-starchy vegetables – leafy greens, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers and onions 

Side Effects 

There are two possible side effects when switching your body’s energy source from the customary carbs and sugar to a healthier keto diet: bad breath can result from a high-fat protein diet but this can be overcome by balancing the fats and proteins with leafy greens, drinking plenty of water and avoiding food high in acid.  

Other side effects some keto diet beginners experience is nausea, muscle soreness or cramps, headache and sugar cravings as the body adjusts to the new dietary routine.  

The good news is experienced keto diet practitioners promise that “this too shall pass,” and think how surprised your dentist will be at the positive change to your teeth and oral health! 

Photo sources: Vitagene, Simplemost 


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