the surprising ways fads are wrecking your teeth

Stacey C. Slagle

Despite the fact that most of us are fully aware how to lose weight the healthy way, it can still be easy to be reeled in by fad diets that promise quick results and fast weight loss. Aside from the obvious damage these all-or-nothing diet plans can do to our metabolism, the other lesser known toll they take is on our teeth.

We spoke to Dr Sameer Patel, clinical director at dental and orthodontic practice, elleven about how each of these diets can impact your oral health.

The sirtfood diet

The Sirtfood diet took the world by storm. This eating plan promotes consuming ‘sirtfoods’ and drinks rich in ‘sirtuin activators’ which are purported to keep our body cells heathy during periods of stress and during illness, and keep our metabolism healthy and high.

The Sirtfood diet advocates for the consumption of caffeine rich liquids and foods high in colour such as black coffee, red wine and blueberries. It is fairly well known that drinks such as coffee and red wine are some of the worst culprits for teeth staining. This staining is amplified when these drinks are consumed on a regular basis as the tannin compounds build up and cause teeth to turn a yellowish colour.

✔️ Solution

To avoid the problems associated with staining, make sure you rinse the mouth with water after consumption, to wash away the tannins and rehydrate the mouth. Water also contains the added benefit of mineral fluoride which makes teeth more resilient to acid erosion and decay.

Alternatively, you could swap your coffee for green tea – which is still part of the diet – but contains polyphenols which research has found, can slow the growth of bacteria associated with cavities and gum disease and has the potential to clean plaque from the teeth.

Juice cleanses

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.

✔️ Solution

Make sure you drink through a straw and try to wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth.

Low-carb or fasting diets

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.

✔️ Solution

Think twice before cutting out carbs completely and stick to healthy ones such as wholemeal pasta and wholemeal bread – these will keep bad breath away whilst being healthy for your body.

Milkshake plans

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.

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.

✔️ Solution

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.

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.

✔️ Solution

Cooking low calorie meals from scratch where you can control the sugar and salt content is a far healthier alternative for your teeth.

The 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.

✔️ Solution

Be careful when you are snacking on these and try to floss or chew sugar-free gum afterwards to remove the debris.

A good idea is to limit snacking between meals as constant snacking can mean your teeth are constantly under attack by sugar. Have fruit with meals or rinse with water afterwards so that sugar cannot initiate the increase of acid in the mouth if left there a long time. Maintaining a good dental regime is imperative for everyone and leaving time after eating before you brush (at least 30 minutes) means you are not further damaging your teeth by brushing when the enamel is vulnerable after a meal and your saliva will then have had a chance to neutralise any acids in the mouth.

Last updated: 23-04-2020

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