The public perception of vegan nutrition is rife with misinformation but studies have consistently shown that there are numerous health benefits that come with a vegan diet. However, there is still significant discussion around oral health and vegan diets. Often these are linked to the intake of vitamins and minerals predominantly sourced from meat in Western diets. The truth is that as with any diet, balance is key. All you have to do is find the right foods to fill in the gaps in your nutrition.
Get some sun
Our body requires Vitamin D to absorb calcium so naturally a deficiency in vitamin D will have big implications for our oral health. While fish, eggs and milk make up a significant portion of many people’s vitamin D intake, the best source is just outside! Spending some time soaking up the sun’s rays each day will have a big impact on not just your oral health but overall wellbeing too. The final (and perhaps most important) step towards guarding against gum disease is to get regular checkups at your local family dental clinic. Spot any potential issues early and address them! It should be noted that these behaviors are by no means exclusive to those following a vegan diet. Indeed, the oral health of vegan and vegetarians has been shown to be significantly better than those who eat meat which is understandable as these groups show higher levels of education on the subject.
Check your habits
While it’s clear to everyone that nutrition plays a big role in oral health, there’s much more to the story. Our general eating and hygiene habits also play a major part in reducing (or increasing) the risk of gum disease. As vegans, we may be more likely to develop certain behaviors which can add additional strain on our oral health. Vegan meals are often low in calorie-dense foods and while this is excellent for cardiovascular health and weight it can lead to snacking or “grazing” between meals. This frequent snacking puts additional strain on your teeth, increasing your risk of cavities. Instead, make sure your meals are substantial by including plants that are high in fiber and protein such as lentils and tofu. Fruit is understandably a large part of vegan and vegetarian diets and while they are delicious and healthy they do unfortunately contain a lot of sugar and acid which can be damaging to your teeth. Often overlooked are the starches in our diets. When pasta and other starch-heavy foods are broken down by the teeth they release sugars into your mouth. Thankfully, limiting your consumption of these foods and drinking water after each meal will significantly reduce the risk of damage.
The internet is full of misinformation about vegan nutrition with many making fallacious claims about risk factors that are entirely unsubstantiated by research. The truth is that as with any diet, maintaining health is about balance and attention to nutrition. By making sure to include the right fruit and vegetables there is no reason a vegan diet would leave you at any higher risk of gum disease.