Are Vegan and Vegetarian Diets Harmful to Your Oral Health?

Vegans and vegetarians may be at higher risk for certain vitamin deficiencies that affect oral health.

Vegans and vegetarians may be at higher risk for certain vitamin deficiencies that affect oral health.

Whether you are a recent convert or a tried and true vegetarian, cutting meat from your diet may leave you vulnerable to oral health problems.

While vegetarianism can certainly be beneficial to your health (clean arteries, anyone?), any restrictive diet can contribute to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. The two most common deficiencies among long-term vegetarians are vitamin D and calcium. Deficiencies in vitamin D and calcium cause teeth to soften, making them more vulnerable to tooth decay

and periodontal disease. The good news is that your body naturally produces vitamin D with sun exposure. Make sure to get the right amount of sunlight to help combat this deficiency, while protecting your skin with a sunscreen.

Veganism can also put followers at risk for vitamin B and B12 deficiencies. The potential for troublesome deficiencies are highest among young adults and teens that adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet without researching how to supplement their new diet with necessary nutrients.

For this reason, it is important to mention if you have vegetarian or vegan lifestyle at your next dental checkup. Your dentist can give you tips to make sure you get all the nutrients necessary for a healthy mouth. A daily supplement with all the necessary vitamins and minerals is also a good idea, especially for younger vegetarians as they continue to grow and develop.

Do you have an experience with vegetarianism or veganism that you would like to share? We’d love to hear your comments.

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