How dentists should treat patients’ keto breath
Thursday, June 06, 2019
With the ever-increasing popularity of the keto diet, dentists are fielding questions from patients about the notorious "keto breath" and what can be done about it.
A ketogenic diet involves eating a diet made up of foods that are high in fat and protein but very low in carbohydrates. One unpleasant side effect is what people call keto breath, often described as fruity or sweet.
Some people report that keto breath disappears once the body adapts to being in ketosis. Research shows it takes at least 21 days to reach this state. By this point, a person's body is more effective at burning the ketones it produces. This means there are fewer ketones to breathe out, which implies keto breath should improve.
If you have patients who ask what they can do about their keto breath, here are some tips:
Drink more water. Drinking more water may help reduce a person's keto breath because the body expels more ketones in urine rather than as a breath.
Higher intake of water produces more urine, which will help expel many of the ketones from the body. Side note: drinking water may also help flush out bacteria in a person's mouth that could be causing bad breath.
Eat more carbs. When a person drastically reduces their carbohydrate intake, their body breaks down fats for energy, which produces ketones.
However, you don’t have to avoid all carbohydrates to achieve ketosis. Eating more carbohydrates should mean fewer ketones. As a result, dieters should breathe fewer ketones out and have less keto breath.
If all else fails, pop a mint. Mints won’t fix it but they may mask keto breath. Sucking mints or chewing gum may be enough to hide the smell of keto breath.
Chewing gum also increases the amount of saliva a person produces, which can help stop the bacteria that cause bad breath from growing in a person's mouth. According to a study in the International Journal of Oral Science, lack of saliva may be a cause of bad breath in the morning. During the night, a person's mouth produces less saliva, which allows more bacteria to grow.
Brush your teeth (a lot). OK, this is solid advice regardless of what kind of diet you follow. Not only does the minty aroma of toothpaste help mask the smell of keto breath, but brushing teeth will help dislodge pieces of food in the mouth and teeth that can smell as they break down and cause bacteria in a person's mouth.
Short of abandoning the low-carb wagon, there is no clear way of preventing keto breath. Anecdotally, it is a temporary and non-harmful side effect that almost everyone who puts their body into ketosis will experience.
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