Can a vegan diet affect your oral health?
A record number of people signed up to the Veganuary event this year. Over 400,000 people pledged to give up all animal products for January. Now that it is over, many of you may be considering if your new vegan lifestyle is sustainable.
Following a vegan diet is linked to weight loss, low blood sugar levels and even improved kidney function. Not to mention it’s one of the easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint. While there’s no denying that it’s possible to be a very healthy vegan, it’s also easy to become an unhealthy vegan.
Cutting out animal products doesn’t guarantee a healthy lifestyle. You still need to make sensible choices when it comes to your diet. There are so many “accidentally vegan” foods which are bad for your health, and especially bad for your teeth.
A problem that many novice vegans face is that they struggle to eat a wide variety of foods. Simply cutting out animal foods isn’t enough, you also need to embrace a wide variety of plant-based foods. And it doesn’t help that lots of sugary, processed foods are vegan.
If you’re wondering if a vegan diet is right for you, you may first want to check with a doctor or nutritionist to make sure you are getting the right nutrients. But what about your teeth?
Your dental health could be the silent victim in your quest for a healthier lifestyle. Read on to discover how you can help your diet from impacting your oral health.
How does a vegan diet affect your teeth?
Any time you change your diet, the results may be visible on your teeth and gums. One of the biggest risks for vegans is that they might struggle to get enough vitamins and minerals. It is possible to eat a vegan diet that is rich in everything you need, but some things are more abundant in animal products. Learning how to adapt your diet is essential. Here are some of the things you might be missing:
Calcium: Most of us rely on milk and cheese to get our daily dose of calcium. Calcium helps to keep bones and teeth strong, so it’s a big concern for dentists. You will find calcium in many fortified almond and soy milk alternatives. You can also get calcium from soy beans (edamame), tofu, and leafy greens like Kale.
Phosphorus: This is essential to support calcium, and it is most often found in fish, shellfish, meat and cheese. Vegan sources of phosphorus include soybeans, grains, lentils and pumpkin seeds.
B12: Many vegetarians and vegans suffer from a B12 deficiency as it is most commonly found in animal products. Foods like nutritional yeast offer an easy way to add B12 into your diet.
Iron: Most commonly found in red meat, you can also get your iron fix from green, leafy vegetables. You could also take an iron supplement to help maintain your levels.
These are some of the specific nutrients which may be lacking, but there are other problems with a vegan diet that could affect you health. Here are our top tips for keeping your teeth healthy on a vegan diet.
Tip 1: Watch your sugar intake
When cutting out animal products, we can sometimes replace these calories with high carb foods. For example, did you know that Fox’s biscuits, some flavours of Doritos, dark chocolate, Oreos and bourbon creams are all vegan? You can see why this could be problematic.
Even a seemingly-healthy fruit smoothie could cause problems for your teeth as the high sugar content will coat your teeth in acids that will break down the enamel on your teeth. If you do indulge in high-carb or sugary snacks, make sure you chew a piece of gum or brush your teeth afterwards to keep your mouth healthy.
Tip 2: Take your vitamins
Keeping track of which food sources give you the right vitamins can be a pain. You can take some of the stress out of the situation by choosing a vegan vitamin supplement to add to your daily routine. Then you can focus on creating delicious and nutritious vegan creations without worrying about getting everything your body needs to function.
Tip 3: Get regular checkups
Regular check ups should be a part of your routine anyway, but it becomes even more important when you make a drastic change to your diet. Let your dentist know the next time you visit and they will be able to give you personalised advice on how to make sure your diet doesn’t interfere with your oral health.
Following a vegan diet and lifestyle is certainly good for your health and the planet, just make sure you aren’t making poor choices for your body or your teeth! Want to book an appointment with our dentists? Get in touch today!