If you’re like many adults in the U.S., the COVID ‘shelter in place’ mandates have helped keep us safe, but not very svelte.
According to some studies, more than a third of adults globally gained weight during the shutdown. However, in the U.S., more than 40 percent experienced a weight gain, most of them packing on 5 pounds or more.
As restrictions are easing with social activities, adults are becoming more active and getting back to more ‘normal’ work or school schedules. In the meantime, though, zipping and buttoning up our pre-COVID clothes are getting attention.
Losing weight is hard. It’s a long, slow process. To rev up the pace of weight loss without feeling constantly deprived, a number of adults have turned to the Keto diet. The ketogenic diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates and is not nearly as calorie restrictive as many diets. In this, high-protein/high fat foods (mainly meat) are combined with a very restricted level of carbs. Thus, more bacon and eggs without the toast.
However, like anything, moderation is the key. As a dentist, many people are surprised at how significantly gum health and tooth enamel can show signs of diet deficiencies. For example, the Keto diet tends to greatly limit fruits, such as kiwis and oranges. Yet, many fruits are packed with Vitamin C the body needs. Although we generally look at bleeding gums as a sign of gum disease, too little vitamin C in the diet can be a contributing factor.
Researchers noted the link between gum bleeding and vitamin C levels more than 30 years ago. Two studies (published in 1986 and 1991) identified gum bleeding as a biological marker for vitamin C levels. This connection somehow got lost in dental conversations concerning bleeding gums, the researchers say. With the popularity of the Keto diet, it has become a more prevalent problem that deserves communication to American adults.
If you can not find palatable foods rich in vitamin C, it is advised to take a supplement of about 100 – 200 milligrams per day.
It’s important, however, to be familiar with warning signs of actual periodontal (gum) disease. Although seeing blood in the sink while brushing is a common one, initial signs may also include:
• sore and/or swollen gums
• frequent or persistent bad breath
• gums that pull away from the base of teeth
• gums that turn red
If you notice these symptoms, seek dental care at your earliest convenience. Gum disease will only worsen without treatment and is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss. It’s bacteria are also associated with an extensive list of serious health problems. These include stroke, some cancers, arthritis, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Another weight loss tactic is to cut back on sugar intake. This leads many people to turn to sugar substitutes. Several brand names are Splenda, Equal and Stevia. Fortunately for your smile, they don’t promote decay-causing acids in your mouth that can harm teeth.
There is a debate, though, on whether the mindset gives some people a false sense of security, which leads them to excuse away upping calories in other areas. For example, using a sugar substitute on oatmeal in the morning may be the excuse to add extra cheese on their salad at lunch. However, when sugar substitutes are added to acidic foods and beverages, the risk to teeth is still there. It just emerges in a different way.
As a common weight loss “aid”, diet colas are often used to satisfy sweet cravings. Just know that every sip of a cola promotes an acid attack on tooth enamel. Consider one can of soda that’s sipped for an hour or more. This continual flow of acid can do extensive, irreversible damage to tooth enamel.
Thinking of using coffee as a boost in weight loss? Be aware of the acidic levels in foods and beverages that are very harmful to tooth enamel. Coffee is one that triggers a harsh flow of acid, so strong it can soften tooth enamel for up to 30 minutes. Other highly-acidic foods and beverages include wine, fruit juices, anything that is tomato-based, vinegar-based foods (such as pickles), and many more.
Although we aren’t suggesting you drop these items from your diet, just know the ones that have higher acid content. Think: “Indulge but dilute.” An easy way to dilute the acid levels in the mouth is to take a couple of gulps of water. Allow the water to wash over the teeth for a couple of seconds before swallowing. Or, better yet, swish with water a couple of times at a bathroom sink and spit it out.
A word of caution – never brush your teeth immediately after eating or drinking (anything but water). Wait for about 30 minutes after the last bite or sip. This will allow time for the acid levels in the mouth to wane. Brushing too soon may wear down precious tooth enamel. And, once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.
When our permanent teeth come in, they are meant to last a lifetime. However, choices made now can decrease this potential. For people who have lost natural teeth, dental implants are an exceptional replacement option. Here, in our Shelby Township dental office, we provide all stages of dental implants, from diagnosis to placement to the restoration of the final teeth. We provide both Oral and IV sedation (for a twilight sleep state), with patients safely monitored throughout.
The ideal, though, is to keep your natural teeth and gums in excellent shape by being conscious of the risks. As a Shelby Twp dentist, allow us to help you achieve healthy gums and a smile you’ll love to share. Begin with a free consultation appointment where we can discuss your needs and concerns in a private, non-clinical setting.
Call 586-739-2155 or tap here to schedule your consultation appointment. New patients are always welcome.