It’s just about everyone’s #1 New Year’s resolution. Lose Weight. So many diets to choose from, but often it’s our teeth that take the loss. Seriously. Weight-loss diets can have a major impact on your oral health. Here’s how popular dieting strategies can affect your mouth.
Low fat dieting became especially popular during the 80’s and 90’s. It seemed logical. To lose the fat, lose the fat. We are finding out it’s not quite that simple; plus there are three cons against low-fat dieting concerning your dental health.
- 1. Long story short, a low-fat diet can prevent your body from absorbing calcium. When your body can’t absorb calcium, your teeth and bones begin to break down.
- 2. Fat helps your brain produce dopamine, a chemical neurotransmitter that improves your mood. When your diet lacks omega-3 fatty acids, your stress and anxiety will increase. Stress can lead to tooth grinding and can worsen pain from TMJ.
- 3. manufacturers often add sugar to reduced-fat products to maintain taste and texture. That added sugar means a higher chance of cavities.
Low-carb and ketogenic diets
Actually, low-carb diets are pretty teeth-friendly. The most noticeable side-effect of a low-carb diet is a unique smell to a dieter’s breath—something between fingernail polish remover and rotten fruit. This is a result of your body using up that fat instead of carbs in a process called ketosis. You can get rid of keto-breath by drinking more water, brushing your teeth and tongue regularly and chewing on natural breath fresheners like parsley and mint.
It’s not all kicks and giggles, however. Your body requires some carbs to stay healthy. High levels of ketones can induce ketoacidosis, an illness in which your blood levels grow dangerously acidic. An overload of ketones can also make your body start to burn muscle instead of fat, cause intense fatigue and even damage your heart.
Cutting calories is a tried and true weight loss strategy. Just be careful to avoid fad diets that reduce your food intake too much. Such diets deplete your body of necessary minerals and vitamins resulting in malnutrition. Malnutrition is bad news all around, but for your mouth it can mean a weakened jawbone (causing your teeth to move or fall out), softened enamel (increasing your chance of cavities) and deficient gums (making you vulnerable to gum disease). On top of that, your hair can start falling out.
It may seem harmless to survive on only fruits — and maybe vegetables — for a week or so, but such a limited diet can have consequences for your mouth and body. Besides the effects of malnutrition, the high levels of sugar and acid in most fruits can damage your enamel, leaving your teeth and gums vulnerable to decay and infection.
Diet pills have always been controversial for various reasons. As far as your teeth are concerned, diet pills leave you with a dry mouth and host of oral health problems. Saliva contains cavity-fighting chemicals and helps to wash away food and bacteria. With a drier mouth, you’re more susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease.
Before you jump into a new diet, consult your doctor and dentist.