Many people all over the world are turning vegetarian or vegan for several reasons. Some consider a vegetarian diet healthier and more compatible to natural living while others have their own religious reason for turning vegans. Vegans are people who avoid all types of animal-based products including dairy products as these are sourced from animals.
Irrespective of your dietary choices and its benefits, research indicates that a vegetarian or vegan diet is not very conducive to your dental health.
Meat is an essential part of diet not without reasons. Apart from providing high protein, meat is rich in tough fibre. Such fibres brush against your teeth while chewing and help clean your teeth of harmful sugar and other food particles that can lead to cavities. Although fruits and veggies also have substantial fibre, the content is not high enough to have the same beneficial effect on your teeth as meat does.
Fish too play an important part in improving dental health. Fish is rich in omega3 fatty acids that help in reducing gum inflammation and its resulting infections.
To counteract the effect and maintain good dental health, vegetarians should opt for a healthy diet that is rich in high-fibre legumes, beans and whole grain products. Adding green leafy vegetables is also a good way of adding more fibre to a vegetarian diet.
For vegans, dental problems are further exacerbated by the fact that they completely leave out any type of dairy products from their regular diet. This creates an extreme deficiency of calcium in the body. Calcium is an essential mineral that keeps your teeth and bones healthy and strong.
Deficiency of calcium in regular diets makes you more prone to periodontal disease – a bacterial infection caused between your teeth and gums. Lack of calcium also makes your teeth weaker leading to cavities and loss of tooth density. Your teeth become fragile and chewing can become a real problem.
In order to maintain optimum calcium intake, vegans can switch to sources of food that are rich in the mineral. As a vegan, your choices include non-dairy products that are rich in calcium such as nuts, tofu, dried fruits, soy milk, orange juice and breakfast cereals. All of these are high on calcium content and can be excellent substitutes for dairy-based products.
A wholesome diet coupled with good oral habits is your best defence against dental health issues. Whether you are a vegetarian or vegan, a nutritionist or dietician can help you in choosing the right food types that aid in good dental health.