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Will Going Vegan Help Or Hurt My Teeth?

Will Going Vegan Help Or Hurt My Teeth

Following a vegan diet can provide you with a number of benefits, from losing weight to reducing your carbon footprint. However, what many individuals don’t know is how going vegan can impact their teeth.

When done right, sticking to a vegan diet shouldn’t have a negative impact on your teeth. But, as our Billings dental clinic has seen, there are many ways a vegan diet can become unbalanced and lead to dental issues from increased cavities to gum disease.

Going Vegan Can Lead To Dental Damage

Often, when picturing a vegan diet, the image of a person chowing down on bowls of salad and other veggies comes to mind. But, it is easy for vegans to have a diet that skews more towards simple carbohydrates—such as pasta, rice, cereal, crackers, and bread—and fruits. A diet that predominantly features carbs and fruit is one that is very high in sugar, even if that sugar technically comes from healthy sources.

The higher the amount of sugar in your diet, the more food for the harmful oral bacteria in your mouth has to eat. As these bacteria consume the sugar, they excrete acid, which compromises the enamel of your teeth and causes cavities to form. Also, many fruits—particularly berries—can lead to long-term staining on your teeth until you need professional teeth whitening services to revitalize your smile.

Vegans often have to eat more, from snacks to meals, as the caloric density of a lot of their foods is not that high. With more snacking, there is more opportunity for bacteria to consume the leftover food particles and excrete acid. Eating foods higher in fat and protein—such as nuts, quinoa, oats, soy products, etc.—can help with fullness and reduce the need to snack.

Vegans Need To Focus On Vitamin And Mineral Diversity

Vegans already have to pay more attention to what they are consuming than most people, but that attention should also be applied to vitamin and mineral diversity. Some of the key nutrients that vegans should be sure to have in their diet are:

  • Phosphorus – This key mineral works in concert with calcium, and is often found in dairy and meat products. So, as a vegan, you will need to ensure that enough phosphorus-rich foods are in your diet.
  • Vitamin D – The body naturally produces vitamin D when it is exposed to sunlight, which is needed to process calcium.
  • Calcium – Being calcium-deficient can make vegans more prone to tooth decay and periodontitis. As calcium is often consumed in dairy products, vegans will need to supplement with calcium-fortified liquids and foods like edamame, spinach, tofu, and other high-calcium foods.
  • Vitamin B12 – This vitamin is essential to both your dental and overall health, and since it is generally found in non-vegan food options, many vegans need to take vitamin B12 supplements. You can also find B12 in almonds, spinach, and pasta.
  • Amino acids – Dietary amino acids help break down the dental plaque on your teeth and assist in preventing gum disease. Vegan sources of amino acids are things like chickpeas, soybeans, pumpkin seeds, lentils, and peanuts.
  • Iron – With low iron levels, sores and inflammation can develop in your mouth. Many individuals on a plant-based diet are lower in iron, but you can supplement by eating dark leafy greens, seeds, nuts, and peas.

While there are clear issues associated with following a vegan diet, as long as steps are taken to ensure the proper dietary diversity is addressed, you should be able to follow a vegan diet safely.

Work With Your Billings, MT Dentist To Protect Your Oral Health

For those who are following a vegan diet, you may want to talk to your dentist about your diet to help them keep a lookout for any diet-related issues that can crop up.

If you are ready to work with our dentist, whether you need a dental cleaning or are interested in cosmetic dentistry, contact us today to set up an appointment to start managing your oral health!

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