Dental Health And Low-Carb, Sugar-Free Eating

By James Goolnik

Your dentist can see when your diet is off balance and needs addressing. They can spot early signs of tooth decay which is entirely down to your diet. Your mouth is a barometer of what else is happening in your body. If you are struggling with your blood sugar levels your dentist often knows about it before your doctor.

The two most common aspects of dental disease are tooth decay and gum disease. Tooth decay is the most common bacterial infection in the world. It happens when the food in your diet is eaten by the bacteria in your mouth and the by-product is acid. This acid dissolves your tooth- decay!

Every person has a different mix of bacteria in their mouth and some is more aggressive than others, this is why some people can eat loads of sugar and never have a cavity and others need a filling every 6 months.

The best thing you can do is to cut down on feeding these bacteria the food they love! Sugar is their favourite, but they can also live off carbohydrates. The fastest way to get tooth decay is a mix of sugar and carbs such as biscuits. Theses sticky foods hide from your toothbrush in hard to reach places and rot your teeth in as little as three months. Your dental team work with you to first reduce the frequency of sugar and carbs and then work on the amount you are eating. The good news is you can heal a cavity in as little as three months (see below).

Research has shown that eating these foods at mealtimes is slightly better than having them as snacks, but why not give your teeth a break and just avoid them completely. Dental decay is entirely preventative, don’t feed the bacteria and never have to have another filling again!

Another major problem is gum disease, which is especially worse in diabetic patients. Gum disease is an inflammation of the structures that hold in your teeth. It starts with slight swelling and redness around your gums (gingivitis) and they bleed when you brush. Please do not ignore this bleeding. You would go straight to your doctor if your hands started to bleed when you washed them, so why are you not worried when you spit blood into the sink. It is not normal for your gums to bleed. Get an appointment straight away with your dentist or hygienist and get them to help you. If left, this inflammation spreads around your gums causing them to peel away from your teeth, then the bacteria eat away at your bone (periodontitis) causing your teeth to loosen and eventually drop out! Your dentist and hygienist can help you stop the disease and teach you how to keep your teeth for life. Eating a healthy low-carb diet has been shown to reduce the inflammation in your entire body, including your mouth.

James Goolnik BDS MSc- Dentist and founder of the charity Rewards Project with a mission to make schools and nurseries sugar free by 2023.