Many so-called ‘risks’ associated with the vegan lifestyle are myths. This is the case, for instance, with B12, found in a 2020 study to be present in vegans and non-vegans in the same amounts. Vitamin B12 is present almost exclusively in animal-sourced foods, but the solution for vegans simply lies in B12 supplementation. While every diet has its own benefits and risks, regardless of the diet you select, it is important to consume foods that promote good oral health. After all, an unhealthy diet can lead to problems such as cavities and gum disease. Vegans, like all human consumers, should ensure they choose wisely and avoid falling into the trap of choosing quick, refined foods that can cause them concerns in the long run.

Choosing High-Fiber Foods

Fiber has a positive effect on tooth enamel because it activates the salivary glands, which protects your mouth against acidic foods and therefore prevents enamel erosion. High-fiber foods can also act as a natural ‘toothbrush’. Think of what happens when you bite into a crunchy apple. This fruit scrubs your teeth clean with every bite. 

Ensuring Your Vitamin D and Calcium Intake Are Adequate

Omnivores obtain much of their required Vitamin C from dairy foods. Vitamin D, meanwhile, can be sourced from eggs, fatty fish, and fortified milk. Vegans can easily access these Vitamins by selecting the right foods. Vitamin C can be sourced from calcium-rich foods like soybeans, calcium-fortified nut milks, broccoli, almonds, kale, and bok-choy (to name a few foods). Vitamin D, meanwhile, can be sourced from the sun.

Maintaining Good Oral Hygiene

Vegans on the go can sometimes snack frequently in order to meet their body’s nutritional needs. It is important to bring your toothbrush and floss along with you so you can clean your teeth after meals. This will help avoid tooth and gum disease. If you already have gum disease or missing teeth, your dentist will help you find solutions so you can enjoy a wide array of foods. Sometimes, oral surgery such as fillings or restorative procedures like scaling and root planing may be necessary to restore oral functioning to a healthy level. You should also ideally visit your dentist every six months for a cleaning and checkup. This is especially true if you consume sugary foods and refined carbohydrates (which can increase your risk of cavities).

Boosting Your Arginine Intake

You should also ensure that you consume arginine—a common amino acid that helps break down dental plaque. This acid is commonly used in products that help battle tooth sensitivity but more recently, it was found that arginine causes the disintegration of the biofilm that sticks to your teeth and causes cavities and gum disease. Top vegan sources of arginine include nuts and seeds (especially pumpkin seeds, watermelon seeds, sesame seeds, dried walnuts, almonds, and pine nuts). 

Maintaining good oral health is easy when you’re vegan, provided you follow a healthy, high-fiber diet. Consume foods that will help naturally ‘brush’ your teeth (like apples) and make sure to stock up on arginine-rich foods. Finally, visit your dentist regularly to catch cavities and gum disease at their early stages. This will stop problems from getting bigger and keep your dental costs low. 

Article contributed by Jane Sandwood