By: Rosie Torres, R.D.H.
Veganism definitely has some health benefits because it’s based on a plant-based diet. Eating more veggies is good for your pearly whites, but not every vegan food makes mouths “hap-pea.”
Leave Meat Alone
Being a vegan means that you do not eat any animal products. Like vegetarians, vegans do not eat meat. But veganism avoids all animal products such as dairy, eggs and honey. Also, some vegans avoid fur, leather and products that are tested on animals. Different things motivate different people. Some people choose to become a vegan because they are focused on animal welfare, while others want to lower their cholesterol.
This is Just the Veganning
The motives for becoming a vegan sound positive. But are vegan approved foods good for your overall oral health? Well, we already know that candy and soda is bad for your tooth enamel. But there are also good foods that can make your teeth whiter and stronger. Besides brushing and flossing, diet plays a big part in your oral health. For example, milk and cheese make teeth strong and healthy. For the most part, the foods that are best for our teeth are mainly those that are full of vitamins like calcium and phosphorous. Most of these vitamins are found in dairy and in meat. So, what exactly does this mean for those who are vegan?
Romaine Calm and Vegan On
Vegans can get good sources of calcium from fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Also, there are several non-dairy beverages that contain calcium, such as orange juice, soymilk, and almond milk. Some other options are tofu, beans (specifically edamame), and leafy greens like kale, spinach, and bok choy. Although phosphorusis found in mostly seafood, meat and cheese, there are some vegan options. Plant-based alternatives are soybeans, nuts and nut butters, grains, lentils, and pumpkin seeds. One of the benefits of eating rougher foods such as nuts, seeds and root vegetables is that they act as sort of a natural toothbrush. The tough and sharp particles of these foods can give your teeth a mild cleaning as you chew. This reduces the chances of you developing a cavity and helps your overall oral hygiene along the way!
A vegan diet that is high in fiber can also stop the progression of periodontal diseases including gingivitis. Vegans also might have lower inflammation in their gums due to consuming fewer saturated fats. The foods you choose to eat also has an impact on the amount and type of bacteria in your mouth. Higher levels of the bad types of bacteria in your mouth can be bad for your gums and your teeth.
Take your Vitamins, Pretty Peas
Besides calcium, phosphorous and fiber being important nutrients for tooth and gum health, there are also some other important dental-healthy vitamins and minerals that vegans may lack. Vitamin B12, iron, and vitamin D are essential to overall health as well as oral health. Some vegan-friendly sources of B12 are almonds, bagels, pasta, and spinach. Vegans can get their iron from peas, nuts and seeds, dried fruits, cereals, and dark leafy greens. Vitamin D is produced when we are exposed to sunlight, but you should also be eating foods that are rich in this vitamin. Your body uses vitamin D to assist with the absorption of calcium and this vitamin is vital for strengthening your bones and teeth. Mushrooms are fortified with Vitamin D as well as tofu, soy, and almond milk.
So far, we’ve learned that being a vegan is actually pretty good for your overall oral health. But veganism can also be bad for your teeth because of the possibility of an increase in sugar consumption. Some vegans eat a lot of rice and wheat, which are starchy and sticky. Sweet, sugary foods like fruit can contribute to acid erosion and tooth decay.
To minimize the negative affects that sugar acids can have on your teeth, sip water as you eat to help wash away bits of starchy foods that might otherwise stick around in between your teeth or other areas of your mouth. Water also helps to neutralize the sugar acids in fruits.
The ‘tooth About Vegan Treats
Just because your candy is vegan doesn’t mean it’s good for your teeth. Although it may have less sugar and be less processed, vegan snacks are not considered health foods. Eat in moderation and remember that the same rules apply – brush and floss carefully afterwards!
While vegans might have to work a little harder to get the important nutrients, vitamins and minerals that are essential for good dental health, there’s no reason why being vegan has to be harmful for your teeth. Whether you’ve been a vegan for a long time or are considering changing your diet, it’s critical to keep on top of your oral hygiene. Regular dental cleanings and exams will ensure that you’ll always be able to snack on your favorite healthy, plant-based foods.
We at Gallery 57 Dental hope these tips on keeping vegan mouths healthy and happy were helpful. To schedule a visit, call us today at (212) 246-8700. Follow Gallery57Dental on Facebook here!