Dental Care

Ketosis and Bad Breath

Is there a link between ketosis and bad breath? Surely you heard about the many different “low carb” diets? These are eating plans that advocate the consumption of high protein and no or low carbohydrate levels.

The goal of these plans is basically to get the body to begin burning fat for energy instead of burning carbohydrates for it. This is something known as being “in ketosis”, and it isn’t really all that good for you over a very long period of time.

This is because it removes a lot of major food groups from the diet, including a great many fruits, grains and vegetables. Fortunately, the process of entering into these diets is brief, and a more natural eating plan resumes quickly.

This discussion, however, is not to address whether or not you should consider a diet of this kind, instead it is a look into the link between ketosis and bad breath.

Ketosis and Bad Breath

How could a low or no carb diet lead to bad breath? It does so in two distinct ways. Firstly, it asks you to live on a very limited range of foods for several weeks, and most of them are protein based.

Basically, you are requiring your body to tap into fat stores for its energy needs, rather than utilizing the more readily available carbohydrates found in things like bread, pasta, and all starchier foods.

This means, however, that the diet is also extremely “diuretic” in nature, implying that you need to drink a great deal more fluid than normal in order to avoid dehydration.

Most people following these diets will remain in the more “normal” ranges of fluid consumption, however, and this automatically means that they will end up with some bad breath problems due to lack of enough liquids.

Is this a direct link between ketosis and bad breath? Yes and no, but fundamentally it is the diet oriented towards ketosis that is the problem, so, yes it is a link between them.

Bad Breath from By-products

The next way that there is a direct connection between ketosis and bad breath is through the by-products of the ketosis process. These are called “ketones” and the proverbial guilty party is the ketone that is better known as “acetone”.

This is a chemical that cannot be used by the human body and is then processed through the urine or through the breath.

It is this chemical that has created the most conversation around ketosis and bad breath.

Thing to do about ketosis induced bad breath

Actually, those low and no carb diets eventually wean their followers back into a more traditional eating plan, and this means that the general condition is going to come to an end fairly quickly.

Usually, the process of entering into ketosis takes less than four weeks, and it is most common for the ketosis and bad breath situation to begin at around week two or three. Thus, most people will only have to endure their bad breath for a one to two week time frame.

During that time they can deal with ketosis and bad breath through a number of ways, and few of them will alter the effects of their diet plan. For instance:

  • Chewing on fresh parsley – this may not be the most delicious herb to eat, but it is the most effective where ketosis and bad breath are concerned. It is the most common herb in breath treatment supplements and it will usually be able to neutralize the odors created during ketosis. The oils in parsley will be swallowed and will help the situation by addressing odors in the stomach and the breath;
  • Brush, floss, rinse and scrape – purchase an alcohol and sugar free mouthwash and use it several times a day. Be aware, however, that you should make sure the mouthwash is not going to irritate your gums. A toothbrush, flossing, and a good tongue scraper will not do much to alleviate the smell of acetone, but they will reduce the plaque and bacteria that will quickly build up during this somewhat dehydrating eating plan;
  • Avoid smoking – if you are dieting to be healthy and fit, you shouldn’t be smoking at all, and you should now that those cigarettes may add to your ketosis breath issue. This is because they are an additional source of dehydration, and this will only exacerbate the odor problem;
  • Gums and mints – you can still use sugar free gums and mints to mask the smell of the acetone being released, but this is not a real cure for ketosis and bad breath issues; and
  • Drink, drink, drink – the more water you consume during the day, the more of the ketones you flush out in your urine. This is the ultimate way to reduce the amount of acetone reaching your mouth and coming out as bad breath.

It is essential to remember that ketosis and bad breath are not the same as something like tooth decay and bad breath.

For most breath issues, the problem is directly related to something happening with the digestive system or the mouth. For instance, bacteria between teeth, at the back of the mouth, and on the tongue could give you a case of proverbial dragon breath, and a good brushing, flossing, and rinsing will cure the problem.

This is not the case with ketosis breath. Where ketosis is concerned, however, the smell is actually coming from a process occurring inside the body and which is alleviated only through excretion of urine and in the breath.

To solve the problem means addressing it on a few levels, but you must not be frustrated if your classic cures for standard bad breath just continually fail to work.

As we already said, the ketosis and bad breath situation will actually calm down a bit once you begin adding carbohydrates back into your diet.

It is quite amazing how a small change can alleviate the issue almost instantly, so monitor your progress with the diet closely and work hard to get back to a more normalized eating plan that has a few sources of carbohydrates as quickly as possible.


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