More and more people are making the decision to switch to a vegan diet for a variety of different reasons. Common reasons include for improved health and ethics. While it is entirely possible to be vegan in a healthy way, the truth is that people with these diets tend to be at higher risk of oral health issues for a few 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 in order to keep your smile in good shape.
How Do Vegan Diets Affect Your Oral Health?
Most people are able to live a healthy life without the inclusion of meat and other animal products, but it’s important to remember that vegans face certain risks when it comes to their oral health. Here are a couple issues that can occur:
- Nutrient Deficiencies: When you give up traditional sources of nutrients, you could be lacking some of the vitamins you need if you aren’t carefully evaluating what you’re eating. This puts you at higher risk for both gum disease and tooth decay.
- Starch-Heavy Substitutes: If you are relying on too many processed grains and sugary products in place of meat and dairy products, you are increasing your probability of developing cavities. Starchy foods turn to sugar in the mouth, therefore feeding cavity-causing bacteria.
Which Vitamins and Minerals Do You Need to Be Mindful of?
If you’re following a vegan diet, it’s important 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 that contain calcium 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. Ultimately, 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 essential vitamin 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’ve decided that a vegan diet is right for you, be sure you’re getting all those essential nutrients you need. This way, you can keep your body and smile in good health!
About the Author
Dr. Cody Calderwood is an experienced dentist who has been working in the field for well over a decade. He earned his dental doctorate from the University of Maryland. Currently, he’s a Fellow of the International Congress of Dental Implantologists and Academy of General Dentistry, and he’s an active representative in the Utah and American Dental Association. For more information or to schedule an appointment at his office in Park City, visit his website or call (435) 649-4343.