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How a Vegan Diet Affects Your Teeth


There are many sources today advocating a plant-based diet for health. Omnivores and vegans alike benefit from the nutrients present in plants, but how does what we eat relate to our dental health? Is a vegan diet better or worse for dental health? Well, it depends. There are some concerns to keep in mind for oral health when one consumes a vegan diet, and here are the main ones:


Vitamin B12 deficiency

A vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to gum disease and eventual tooth loss. Vegans in order to consume adequate B12, supplementation may be necessary as plants do not provide this important nutrient. At Westlake Dental Associates we have a spectrum of treatments available both for gum disease, or bridges and implants to treat missing teeth. 


Lack of remineralizing foods

Remineralization occurs when essential minerals that support hardened, healthy enamel are resupplied to the tooth through saliva after loss caused by acid erosion. The best remineralizing foods include those high in Calcium, like cheese, meat, and milk, but nuts and leafy greens can also help. 


Lack of essential amino acids

One example is the amino acid arginine, which is found in meat, poultry, fish, and dairy. Arginine helps prevent cavities and gum disease by breaking down dental plaque. While arginine is found in higher quantities in meat, vegan sources of arginine include pumpkin seeds, peanuts, soybeans, lentils, and chickpeas. 


Calcium concerns

Your body needs enough calcium to support healthy teeth and gums. Vegans need to fill their diet with plenty of plant sources that contain calcium (almonds, leafy greens, beans, etc.) as well as fortified vegan milks (almond, soy, rice, etc.). 


Frequent snacking

Continual snacking provides an environment for bacteria to thrive and attack your tooth’s enamel. Vegans may be more prone to frequent snacking in an effort to meet their body’s need for energy. You may find eating meals with a higher fat content helps you stay full for longer periods of time. 


More sugars/starches in the diet

It can be easy as a vegan to eat a diet based on sweet/starchy foods like fruits and grains (cereal, bread, pasta, crackers, rice, etc.). But the bacteria in your mouth that cause tooth decay thrive on sugar. Make sure to round out your diet with non-sugary foods, such as tofu, nuts, seeds, and plenty of vegetables. 


If you’re a vegan, you already know you have to be mindful of certain key nutrients that you may need to focus on or supplement in your diet. Keep this list in mind to ensure your dental health is also in tip-top shape! We’ll make sure your mouth is looking great at your next checkup with us at Westlake Dental Associates. Feel free to call and speak with us about your oral health any time at 805-496-4247 in Westlake Village.

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