With the new year around the corner, losing weight is at the top of many resolution lists. If you've done your research, you are probably aware of the general benefits and drawbacks of all diet types. However, have you considered their effects on the teeth? In this article, we will cover the risks and benefits of a few popular strategies. We are not endorsing or promoting a single diet, but rather giving you a clue on how they might affect your overall oral health!
One of the fundamental strategies of losing weight is simply eating less. Portion size is a huge component to a successful diet and one of the most difficult aspects to master. However, eating too little can have various negative effects. On top of slowing down your metabolism (and making weight loss more difficult), eating too little can lead to dry mouth conditions. Saliva is a hugely protective factor agains tooth decay, and hyposalivation is clearly linked to an increased risk of developing cavities.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, diets that rely on frequent, small meals can cause a similar increase in decay risk. Constantly having food in your mouth keeps the decay-causing bacteria working all day, creating more acid and softer enamel. Similarly, juice cleanses or all liquid diets can create the same problems. While your drink might be low calorie, it probably contains ingredients that keep the bacteria in your mouth working overtime!
Patients who are starting the "caveman" or "paleo" diets will be happy to hear that these regimens are anecdotally linked to improved dental health. It makes sense- the paleo diet relies on cutting out carbohydrates, the fuel behind tooth decay. While nearly all food causes the mouth to shift to an acidic state, carbohydrates are some of the worst offenders.
Naturally, any modification to the amount or types of things we eat will have some effect on the teeth. The oral health implications should be considered as a part of the whole-body effects of your diet. We recommend talking with your physician prior to drastically changing the meals you eat. If you have any further questions, feel free to call our office!