More and more people are deciding to switch to vegetarian and vegan diets for a variety of different reasons, ranging from health to ethics. While it is entirely possible to be vegan in a healthy way, it is also true that vegans tend to be at higher risk for some dental issues because of a couple different reasons. Continue reading to learn more about how a vegan diet affects your oral health as well as some things to look out for to keep your smile healthy.
How Can a Vegan Diet Affect Your Dental Health?
While most people are able to live a healthy life without the inclusion of meat and other animal products, it is important to note that vegans face certain risks when it comes to their oral health. Here are just a couple things that can spell trouble for your smile:
- Nutrient Deficiencies: When you give up traditional sources of nutrients, you could be lacking some of the vitamins you need if you aren’t careful. This puts you at higher risk for both gum disease and tooth decay.
- Starch-Heavy Substitutes: If you are relying on too many grains and sugary products in place of meat and dairy products, you are increasing your probability of developing cavities.
What Vitamins and Minerals Do You Need to Look Out for?
If you follow a vegan diet, be sure that you are still getting plenty of these essential vitamins and minerals to keep your body and smile healthy:
- Calcium: Calcium protects your enamel from cavities, and many people get it from dairy products. Some vegan options include broccoli, leafy greens, and soybeans.
- Vitamin D: Your body needs vitamin D in order to absorb calcium properly. Instead of getting this through fatty fish, cheese, and milk, you can choose vegan options, like fortified almond milk, soy milk, and rice milk. The best way to get vitamin D is by spending time out in the sun.
- Phosphorus: This mineral supports calcium in building strong bones and teeth. It can be found in soybeans, lentils, and pumpkin seeds.
- Vitamin B12: This is an essential vitamin that helps to build red blood cells, DNA, and much more. Symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency include depression, memory loss, and paranoia. Animal products make up most natural sources of vitamin B12, but it can be found in seaweed and fortified tofu and breakfast cereals. Supplements are also an option.
If you want to stick to a vegan diet, be sure that you are getting all of the nutrients you need. This way, you can prevent oral health issues and keep your smile healthy!
About the Author
Dr. Kevin Dann earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Ontario and has been working in the field for over four decades! Currently, he devotes at least 25% of his professional time teaching as a recognized expert in dentistry and anesthesiology at the University of Toronto. He is also affiliated with numerous professional organizations, including the Ontario Dental Association, Canadian Academy of Dental Anesthesia, and American Dental Society of Anesthesia. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit his website or call +1 647-559-3176.