How your diet impacts your oral health

There are so many diets and weight loss tips and tricks around that it can be a real struggle to decide which one to try out. With the summer holiday season in full swing, it seems like every celebrity is endorsing a new craze – from Kim Kardashian’s strawberry obsession, to the raw food diet to the low-carb-high-protein plan.

Something that they don’t tell you though is that all these fad diets can cause total havoc to your teeth and general oral health.

Dr Sameer Patel, Clinical Director at award-winning specialist dental and orthodontic practice, elleven (, offers his expert opinion on how each of these diets can impact your oral health.


1.       The Juice Cleanse

Low calorie diets like the juice cleanse can cause insulin levels to peak and then plummet which, over time, alters the structure of collagen in the body and therefore affects your gums as it’s collagen fibres that hold your teeth in place.

The juice from fruit and vegetables, especially fruit, tend to have a high acid content which severely damages the enamel of your teeth in a similar way to fizzy drinks. Although fruit and vegetables are considered healthy acids, this is only the case when they are consumed as a whole, rather than as a concentrated juice.

Fruit’s natural sugar, fructose, is a common cause of cavities as the bacteria in the mouth feed on it so be careful when you do consume juice as part of a balanced diet. Make sure you drink through a straw and try to wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth.

2.       Low-Carb-High-Protein and the 5:2 Diet

When you are not eating as many carbs, for example on a low-carb-high-protein diet or on fast days of the 5:2 diet, your body breaks down fat instead. This process results in your body going into a state called ketosis which produces the chemicals that cause bad breath.

Ketosis is brought on entirely by your diet and unfortunately no amount of flossing and brushing will combat the smell so think twice before cutting out carbs completely and stick to healthy ones such wholemeal pasta and wholemeal bread – these will keep bad breath away whilst staying trim.

3.       Milkshake Diets

There are several milkshake plans that encourage you to swap two of your meals for a calorie-controlled milkshake but these milkshakes can contain up to 18g of sugar per serving! If you are having two of these a day then this is nearly half of your daily allowance (which should probably be less if you are dieting).

The sugar content of these milkshakes can cause tooth decay and promote plaque build-up which leads to cavities which cannot be washed or brushed away, leading to dental and hygiene treatments becoming necessary. So be aware when choosing the shakes and pay close attention to their ingredients.  If you are going to try the diet then rinsing with water afterwards and chewing sugar-free gum will help to reduce the affect they might have on your teeth.

4.       Meal Replacements

Diet plans that offer you ready-made calorie controlled meal replacements tend to take out the fat and replace it with extra sugar and salt to keep the flavour. This can be extremely damaging to your teeth. Moreover, some meal replacement snacks are often higher in sugar than regular snacks so be careful to read the packaging before you buy!

The high sugar content can lead to tooth decay, especially from snacking between meals, as it increases the contact that our teeth have with sugar throughout the day. Cooking low calorie meals from scratch where you can control the sugar and salt content is a far healthier alternative for your teeth. After meals, try to ditch the coffee habit as it can cause stubborn staining on your teeth, instead opt for green tea as it helps to control inflammation and fight bacterial infection.

5.       Raw Food Diet

Although sticking to raw foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, sounds like the healthiest plan around, your oral health can really suffer. Despite the sugars in fruit being natural, when they make their way into your mouth, there is no difference between the sugars from fruit and the sugars from chocolate or sweets. All this sugar is constantly eroding your teeth and acts like a time bomb, small problems mount up on each tooth, leading to cavities and larger dental issues which can be painful and very expensive to resolve.

Another element of the raw food diet is the inclusion of nuts and seeds. These are healthy snacks however they are very sticky and tend to get lodged between your teeth making them hard to remove. The longer this debris stays stuck on or in between your teeth, the easier it is for bacteria to attach and multiply. Be careful when you are snacking on these and try to floss or chew sugar-free gum afterwards to remove the debris.

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