01 Nov Can a Vegan Diet Be Bad for Your Teeth?
November is Vegan Month: For Our Health
There are now 4.2 million vegans in the UK! One survey estimates that as many as (7%) of the population have adopted veganism or vegetarianism (14%) due to environmental or ethical concerns.
“Going vegan” is great for the environment and health, but…
Can a Vegan Diet Be Bad for Your Teeth?
Are you considering a plant-based diet and wondering how it affects your dental health? A plant-based diet is overall better for our environment and is a healthier option, but a vegan diet can affect your bone health (which includes gums and teeth) can suffer. Studies have found that vegans and vegetarians are more likely to suffer from tooth erosion due to increased acidic pH levels in the mouth and lack of saliva production than people who eat more conventional diets. This can be because when you remove certain foods from your diet, this can make you deficient in essential vitamins and nutrients, like Vitamin D and Calcium, that support dental health. However, there are several ways to supplement your diet and ensure you maintain a healthy smile, even on a vegan diet.
Risks Associated With a Vegan Diet
Calcium is vital to support teeth and gums and there is an excellent source in dairy and fish. However, this is no option for vegans. We generally advise our vegan patients to supplement their diet with plenty of plant-based sources containing calcium. These sources include bok choy, tofu, soybeans, calcium-fortified nut milk and leafy green vegetables.
Vitamin D is fundamental for the absorption of calcium, and the best source of vitamin D comes from the sun!! ( not so great option for the British Public). Vitamin D can also be supplemented via supplements (consult your GP prior to taking any supplements) or by adding dietary sources of Vitamin D from foods like mushrooms.
Essential amino acids can help prevent cavities and gum disease by breaking down dental plaque. We acknowledge that amino acids are found in larger quantities in meat. But they are also available in other sources like chickpeas, lentils and soy-based food. In addition, seeds like pumpkin and sunflowers are a good alternative.
We have noticed in our vegan patients to have a higher level of dental erosion. This erosion could be due to increased consumption of acidic food and fruit which is high in natural sugar. It’s best to limit the consumption of these foods and drink plenty of water to maintain a healthy saliva flow and a healthy pH in the mouth.
Overall, a healthy, plant-based diet can lower the risk of disease as this diet (when balanced and full of the essential vitamins and minerals) tends to be packed with health-promoting phytochemicals – including the powerful antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables.
For all the tips and tricks to ensure your vegan diet covers all your micronutrients go to PETA.org where you can find out more.