There are several reasons why people follow plant-based diets, such as animal welfare, environmental impact, or lowering cholesterol. Veganism is one diet that has become increasingly popular in recent years. Unfortunately, while it does seem like a healthier lifestyle, it can cause your bone health to suffer if you’re not careful. Read along to learn how a vegan diet can affect your oral health.
WHAT IS VEGANISM?
Veganism is a lifestyle free of animal products. People who follow a vegan diet don’t eat meat, eggs, dairy products, and honey. Some might even avoid leather, fur, and any other products that have been tested on animals. In most cases, people become vegans for health or ethical reasons.
HOW DOES A VEGAN DIET AFFECT ORAL HEALTH?
Although most people can live a healthy life without meat, vegans might face certain oral health risks, including:
Since vegans forego traditional sources of essential nutrients, they’re at an increased risk of experiencing dental problems. This can largely be attributed to the lack of vitamin D and calcium in a vegan diet. The human body needs calcium to support healthy teeth and gums – and vitamin D is necessary to absorb it. Dairy, fish, and eggs are excellent sources of this vitamin, but those options are non-vegan. As an alternative, people following this diet can get their nutrients from soybeans, broccoli, almonds, or mushrooms.
LACK OF AMINO ACIDS
Amino acids play many crucial roles in your body. Although only nine are considered essential, your body needs 20 different amino acids to grow and function properly. For example, arginine is one essential amino acid found in meat, poultry, dairy, and fish. It’s a critical part of your diet because it prevents cavities and gum disease by breaking down dental plaque. Soy products, chickpeas, lentils, and pumpkin seeds are plant-based alternatives that include amino acids.
Most people who follow a vegan diet tend to snack more frequently to meet their body’s nutritional needs. Unfortunately, constant snacking can harm your smile because of the frequent contact your teeth have with food. Each time you eat, the bacteria in your mouth feed on food particles and produce harmful acids that wear down enamel. Thus, it put you at an increased risk of plaque and cavities.
TIPS TO MAINTAIN GOOD ORAL HEALTH
Do you follow a vegan diet? Here are some tips to help you maintain good oral health:
- Be sure to eat well-balanced meals that meet all your nutritional needs
- Avoid frequent snacking and opt for healthy snacks whenever possible (nuts, seeds, tofu, vegetables)
- Watch your intake of sugary, acidic, fatty, and processed foods
- Maintain a good oral hygiene routine (brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss daily)
Don’t ruin your smile as a result of your diet! If you are currently vegan or considering becoming one, consult with a health professional to ensure you’re not putting your oral health at risk.
About the Practice
At Dr. Aaronson and Associates, our team goes above and beyond to ensure every patient leaves our clinic with a healthy smile. For more than 45 years, we’ve helped our patients achieve and maintain optimal oral health. If you have any questions about how a vegan diet affects your oral health, we’ll be more than happy to answer them for you. Visit our website or call (917) 722-6573 to schedule an appointment.