How Do Fad Diets & Fasting Impact Your Oral Health?
As the end of the year approaches, many people start thinking of ways to make positive changes to their health. This is the time of year when people are more likely to try fad diets and intermittent fasting.
While several popular diets exist, there’s a lot of conflicting information on the effects of these diets to your overall health. The repercussions and advantages can vary from person to person. It’s important to speak with your doctor before starting any new diet or eating plan.
In addition to physical health, fad diets and fasting can impact your oral health as well. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to protect your teeth and gums while dieting.
People that follow the Paleo diet avoid foods that didn’t exist during the Paleolithic times. This includes processed foods, grains, and flour-based products. Followers of the Paleo diet eat free-range meats, nuts, fruit, and leafy vegetables. The Paleo diet is naturally low in sugar, which may help prevent tooth decay and cavities. However, there isn’t a lot of evidence that a Paleo diet is good for your teeth.
One concerning side effect of the Paleo diet has to do with calcium levels. Calcium is essential for healthy teeth, bones, blood vessel function, and muscle and nerve communication. In fact, people who follow a paleo diet for extended periods of time can lose significant amounts of calcium through their urine. Given that calcium is essential for strong teeth, those worried about their oral health should consider their calcium levels when following a Paleo diet.
Additionally, since the Paleo diet includes higher levels of animal protein consumption, this can lead to bad breath. High-protein diets like the Paleo diet, provide more fuel for bacteria living in your mouth, which leads to bad breath.
It’s important that anyone following the Paleo diet brush their teeth twice a day, floss regularly, and visit their dentist at least twice a year. Using a high-quality dental gel helps keep plaque at bay, reducing the chance of cavities and gum disease.
Followers of the keto diet keep carbohydrate consumption to a minimum, typically less than 50 grams each day. Reducing carbohydrates encourages the body to burn fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates.
Although some people experience significant weight loss from the keto diet, this fad diet has many side effects.
The most noticeable side effect of the keto diet when it comes to your oral health is “keto breath.” The keto diet can produce a vinegary or acid smell on the breath. Some people say it smells like nail polish. This smell is a result of the body turning fatty acids into ketones. While bad breath is mostly just annoying, if you start to experience “keto breath” for an extended period of time, you’ll want to see a dentist to make sure you don’t have any concerning oral health issues.
Dehydration and a dry mouth are common. Since your diet isn’t as balanced when following the keto diet, your mouth becomes more acidic which causes dry mouth. If left unaddressed, this can increase the chance of cavities and tooth decay.
It can take some time for your body to adjust to the keto diet. Followers need to keep themselves hydrated. It’s also important to maintain good oral hygiene while following the keto diet. Brushing using dental gel can help keep breath fresh and the teeth and gums healthy.
Juice cleanses involve drinking fruit or vegetable smoothies in place of solid foods. While juice cleanses can result in significant weight loss, they can also lead to nutrient and protein deficiencies. This can cause problems for all parts of the body, including the teeth and gums. Many fruits contain sugar and acids, increasing the chance of dental problems.
Some fruits and vegetables are also very acidic. This can be damaging to your teeth when oral bacteria feed on the acid and multiply in your mouth. This acid damages tooth enamel and can lead to a variety of dental issues.
It’s also no secret that fruit is high in sugar. While fruit is healthy for you, when it is concentrated in juice form, the sugar that remains in your mouth contributes to the acid-loving bacteria that wreak havoc on your oral health.
If you are on a juice cleanse, drinking through a straw can reduce the amount of sugar that gets left in your mouth. Drinking a glass of water after drinking juice is also a good idea.
Although anyone participating in a juice cleanse should pay special attention to their oral health, it’s important not to brush immediately after consuming juice. The acids found in many fruits soften tooth enamel, increasing the chance of damage caused by brushing.
Using a soft bristled toothbrush and non-abrasive dental gel can help reduce the amount of damage to the teeth.
Instead of eating three meals a day, intermittent fasting involves eating within a window of 6, 8, or 12 hours. While this type of diet hasn’t been directly linked with any adverse effects on the teeth and gums, it can cause dehydration and a dry mouth. This increases the chance of tooth decay.
Additionally, given that intermittent fasting encourages going long periods of time without eating, it can be difficult to follow. It’s not uncommon for followers of this diet to experience insomnia and late night snacking. This means that plaque can build up in your mouth if you aren’t brushing your teeth before going back to bed. Plaque can lead to several other serious health issues if left unaddressed.
Another side-effect of withholding food for extended periods of time is nausea and heartburn, which can lead to acid reflux or vomiting. Both of these cause more acids in your mouth, which damages tooth enamel.
Those who follow an intermittent fasting diet also tend to have higher cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone. Those with increased cortisol levels can experience mouth sores and teeth grinding which can lead to poor oral health.
At a minimum, people that follow intermittent fasting schedules should brush at the start and at the end of their eating window.
Diet fads come and go. While most people don’t make these diets and eating plans permanent, it’s important to continue to care for your teeth and gums while dieting. Proper dental hygiene helps keep bacteria in the mouth in check, preventing it from spreading to other parts of the body.
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