Many people started 2020 with a resolution to get fit and lose weight. (Just like last year, right?) If you chose the Keto Diet for weight loss, you may be noticing an unexpected side effect known as “Keto Breath”.
Blinding You with Science
The basic tenet of the ketogenic diet is that it reduces or restricts carbohydrate intake, so the body begins to burn stored fat in place of dietary glucose. When the body makes this change in its fuel source for energy, you enter a state of ketosis. The burning of fat in ketosis produces several byproducts: acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate, and acetone.
The acetone produced with the ketogenic diet cannot be used for energy storage, so it is released from the body from the lungs or by urination. Acetone is the cause of a sweet or fruity oral odor from those in a state of ketosis.
Another reason for bad breath while participating in a keto diet, as well as many other low-carb diets is dehydration and dry mouth. Carbohydrates cause the body to store water in muscle and fat, so their absence can lead to a mild dehydration. If you have been on the keto diet or another low-carb diet for very long, you have probably noticed that you are thirsty more often.
So, What to Do?
Good oral hygiene is the most important first step to combat bad breath, no matter its origin. Regular brushing, flossing, and use of a tongue scraper keeps smelly bacteria from colonizing on your teeth and oral tissues. Since the keto halitosis originates from the lungs, try chewing sugar-free gum or adding herbs such as clove, mint, or cinnamon to your drinking water to mask the odors.
Other than weight loss, a positive side-effect of a low-carb diet is that it can improve your overall oral health. In fact, research has shown that a low-carbohydrate, low-sugar diet can reduce tartar formation, dental decay, and gingivitis by more than 50% without changing normal oral hygiene habits! Many of the vegetables that are approved for the keto diet are also dental-friendly, containing the vitamins and nutrients that promote healthy gums and teeth.
Dr. Michael Gillespie has practiced dentistry in Waynesville, NC for over 25 years. Continue your commitment to overall health and fitness by scheduling a dental exam and cleaning appointment with us. You can contact our office at 828-456-9007.