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Since January 2014, “Veganuary” encourages people to learn more about embracing a vegan life-style. Advantages are that it reduces animal suffering, promotes a conscious appreciation of our planet and can have considerable health benefits. As dentists can tell a lot about what we eat from just looking at our teeth, we’re interested in how a vegan diet affects oral health.
It’s worth remembering that everything we put in our mouth can have a negative impact on our general health, our oral health and our teeth. If we’re eating, then practically any food has the potential to damage our teeth. So if we’re eating a vegan diet that’s not healthy, well that may damage your teeth too.
Whether our diet is omni or vegan, high protein or no carb, it’s important to make healthy choices. Rather than shopping and eating without a plan, opting for a particular dietary life-style makes us more mindful of what we eat. That alone has to be a good thing.
Of course this is true for everyone, not just vegans. But some vegans find they snack more than they did when they ate omni or vegetarian food. That’s because meat and dairy are easy sources of protein that help to keep us feeling full.
Think of animals! Imagine carnivorous lions (or tigers) lying around snoozing for up to twenty hours a day, while elephants have to spend up to eighteen hours of their day chewing. Opting for a vegan life-style can mean quite considerable changes, especially in how we shop and also how we eat.
The problem with snacking is that our teeth may not get enough of a break between snacks. Eating changes the Ph balance in our mouth, so that the hard enamel of the teeth is temporarily weakened. Saliva works to help re-mineralise our teeth, a process that takes about thirty minutes. If this process is frequently interrupted by more food being eaten, or exacerbated by acidic fruit, tooth enamel erodes. Once tooth enamel weakens, bacteria build plaque and can cause cavities.
Tips to limit snacking damage:
Planning is key to any healthy diet. Yet changing to a vegan diet, it may take a little while to work out what to eat to meet all the nutritional requirements. By removing the easy sources of calcium in dairy, for example, teeth may suffer. Getting the right minerals is important to keep strong teeth.
However, there are plenty of other sources of calcium in nuts, plants and legumes. There is no reason why a vegan cannot follow a diet that has all the necessary nutrients for good dental health, it just takes a little bit more preparation and planning (and make sure there’s always some home-made hummus in the fridge!)
Omni or vegan, diet affects oral health.
To keep our teeth healthy, it’s all about making good choices and teaching children to make good choices too. Also, making sure we follow a rigorous oral health routine at home and visit the dentist regularly is the best way to maintain our optimum oral health.
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