Veganism offers numerous benefits.
You can save the planet, improve your health, and help animals live free from cruelty. It’s truly a cause worth fighting for. But..is a vegan diet bad for teeth?
Milk, cheese, and yogurt are all things touted as the best things to consume to keep your gnashers healthy. However, these are all dairy products vegans can’t consume
So what happens when you remove this seemingly important calcium source from your diet? Are vegans doomed to a lifetime of cavities?
In this article, we’ll get to the bottom of whether or not a vegan diet is bad for your teeth. And if so, how can you make sure your pearly whites stay healthy and strong?
Do Deficiencies = Decay?
Deficiencies in a vegan diet can 100% result in tooth decay.
But, before you go running back to meat and cheese with visions of cavities dancing in your head…If a vegan diet is managed properly, it won’t be lacking anything, including important things needed for strong teeth.
Let’s take a closer look at the nutrients that are needed for good oral health, along with suggestions on how vegans can ensure they get them.
We all know that calcium is a must-have for healthy teeth. But did you know that a deficiency in calcium can actually lead to tooth decay?
A deficiency in calcium can cause your teeth to become porous, which allows plaque and bacteria to get into the tooth enamel, leading to cavities. So it’s important to get enough of this mineral! But what if you don’t want to eat dairy? Can vegans still get all the calcium they need?
Of course, they can! There are plenty of vegan-friendly sources of calcium! Some great options include dark leafy greens like kale and collard greens; sesame seeds; almonds; figs; and beans. You can also find calcium-fortified foods like soy milk and orange juice at the grocery store.
You might be wondering what on earth B12 has to do with your teeth.
Well, surprisingly, B12 is a vitamin that’s essential for good oral health. It helps create the enamel that coats the outside of your teeth. And, helps produce the saliva that washes away plaque before it has a chance to harden into tartar.
If you’re deficient in B12… well, let’s just say you probably won’t be smiling as much as you’d like. Your teeth could become permanently discolored or even chipped or cracked if they don’t have enough of this vitamin to build up their enamel and protect them from damage.
As B12 is harder to come by in plant-based foods than in meat products, vegans need to be careful. To keep their mouths healthy and cavity-free, they should get enough B12 by taking supplements or eating fortified products like cereal, nutritional yeast, and non-dairy milk every day.
Phosphorus is a mineral that is abundant in the human body. It’s one of the main minerals that make up bones and teeth, so it’s no surprise that without enough phosphorus in your diet, you could be putting your teeth at risk.
Why is phosphorus important? If you don’t have enough phosphorus in your diet, it can lead to tooth decay and osteoporosis.
It’s abundant in meat and dairy products, but vegans can still get their fill of it by eating more plant-based foods.
The best way to get phosphorus from plants is by eating dark leafy greens such as spinach, collard greens, Swiss chard, and kale. Other good sources include beans, nuts, seeds (especially almonds), whole grains (like wheat bran), and fruits like apples.
Iron also plays an important role in your oral health. Your teeth are made up of a substance called dentin, which contains iron (along with calcium). That means that without iron, the enamel on your teeth would be less resistant to acid erosion and would break down more quickly than it should—which could lead to tooth decay or cavities!
Also, without enough iron in your diet, your body can’t produce red blood cells. Without red blood cells, your body can’t deliver oxygen to organs or tissues. Without oxygen, teeth can’t stay strong and healthy. So what happens when teeth don’t get enough oxygen? They become weak and brittle… and eventually, fall out!
The good news is, you don’t have to eat meat to get the right amount of iron. Vegans can get their iron from a variety of sources, including:
-Nuts and seeds (almonds, pumpkin seeds)
-Dark green vegetables (spinach, kale)
-Legumes (beans, lentils)
Vitamin D might be the magic vitamin that helps you to maintain healthy teeth.
Your body needs Vitamin D to be healthy, but it also plays a critical role in keeping your teeth strong and healthy.
Vitamin D is important for healthy teeth because it helps your body absorb calcium, which is essential for strong teeth and bones. If you don’t get enough vitamin D in your diet, it can be hard to build up enough calcium in your bones. And if you don’t have enough calcium in your bones, then you might end up with weak teeth that break easily.
Vitamin D is mostly found in fish, eggs, and dairy products, but there are other ways to meet your daily needs. Besides supplements and sunshine, vegans can get vitamin D from food sources like mushrooms or sea vegetables such as dulse and kelp. Or, by eating fortified foods—including orange juice, dairy-free milk, and cereal.
Vitamin A is important for healthy teeth. Here’s why:
First, it helps your body produce saliva, which keeps your teeth wet and clean.
Second, it helps your gums stay strong and healthy.
Third, it helps you absorb calcium, which keeps your teeth strong and healthy.
Vegans can get vitamin A from carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, spinach and other leafy greens.
Vitamin K is essential to the process of mineralisation, which is the development of hard tissues such as bones and teeth. It also helps the body maintain calcium levels in the bloodstream, which prevents tooth decay.
Vegans can get plenty of vitamin K from leafy greens like spinach and kale. Other sources include broccoli and cauliflower, green beans and asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cabbage…the list goes on!
So, the key to good oral health is getting the right vitamins and minerals in order, which vegans can do if they plan their diets carefully.
But there are other factors of a vegan diet that are causing concern among dentists.
Let’s take a look at why one dentist says dental issues are on the rise in vegans.
The Dangers Of Sugary Subs
Vegan diets can be healthy, but they aren’t necessarily the most tooth-friendly.
According to Dr Mervyn Druian, from the London Centre for Cosmetic Dentistry, there’s been a rise in the number of people showing signs of tooth decay after going vegan. The culprit? Not what they cut out of their diet, but what they substitute with.
A vegan diet tends to be higher in sugar than other types of diets, and the substitutes for meat and dairy products tend to be high in sugar as well. A lot of people on a vegan diet are also eating more starchy foods like fruits, grains, and vegetables than they might otherwise.
But don’t worry—with a few simple tweaks to your diet and some good old-fashioned dental hygiene habits, you can keep your teeth looking great even if you’re vegan. Here’s what you need to know:
5 Ways To Maintain Good Oral Health While On A Vegan Diet
- The first thing you should do is make sure you brush your teeth twice a day using fluoride toothpaste. If you want to be extra-preventative, consider adding flossing as well
- In addition to brushing twice daily, try drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Water helps wash away food particles from between your teeth, which can lead to plaque buildup and cavities over time.
- Eat whole grains instead of refined carbohydrates like white bread and pasta. Limit processed foods, especially those high in sugar or carbohydrates.
- Avoid sugar-rich snacks. Vegans are known to graze between meals, but doing so on anything containing sugar can cause damage. Sugars make your mouth a buffet for bacteria and can lead to tooth decay: the more they grow and multiply, the more they make acids that can erode the teeth.
- Eat enough protein: protein helps fight cavities by strengthening tooth enamel and keeping it firm against bacteria that cause decay.
As long as you follow good oral habits, the benefits of a vegan diet for oral health are numerous, for example:
- Oral cancer is reduced when you eat more plant-based foods and fewer animal products, and there is also a lower risk of other diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis.
- Vegetables and fruits contain anti-inflammatory properties that can help to prevent gum diseases.
- Vegetables are high in vitamin C and folate, which help reduce your risk of developing gum disease.
- Vegetables are also high in fibre, which helps clean your teeth and gums.
So, Is A Vegan Diet Bad For Your Teeth?
The verdict is: Maybe!
It’s all about balance.
A vegan diet can be great for your teeth if you make sure to eat lots of fruits and vegetables (which are chock-full of vitamins and minerals).
But, just like any other diet, if you’re consuming too much sugar or too many acidic foods, it can wreak havoc on your oral health.
If you take care of your teeth and maintain a healthy diet, vegans can have just as bright a smile as anyone else!