With around half a million people in the UK following a vegan diet, and many more perhaps partially following it with a view to fully adapting the diet if they like it, our Cheshunt dental team thought that it would be worth taking a look at the pros and cons of this diet from a dental perspective.
There have been reports that both vegetarians and vegans are more likely to suffer from cavities than a carnivore or omnivore. Below, The Lodge Dental Suite take a look at some of the factors that may contribute to this.
Although a vegan diet is considered to be a ‘healthy’ one, it is still possible to eat an unhealthy diet. Cakes, sweets, chocolates etc are all available that are entirely vegan. These often contain just as much sugar as regular foods. Don’t be fooled by the ‘natural sugar’ labels either .. all sugars will feed the bacteria that lead to tooth decay.
Quite often, one of the main reasons for following a vegan diet is the health aspects. This often means that vegans eat a lot more fruit than the rest of us. Whilst this is healthy, as far as vitamins etc goes, it does increase the amount of acids from the fruit that come into contact with the teeth. This will increase the risk of enamel erosion. When this occurs, the more vulnerable dentin layer is exposed and tooth decay is likely to soon follow.
Most people get sufficient calcium, to build healthy teeth and bones, from dairy products. Vegans, of course, avoid these and an alternative source needs to be found. This can be done by eating nuts and seeds especially. Like many minerals though, these are not always absorbed especially well into the digestive system on their own. In the case of calcium, you also need to ensure that you have a sufficient intake of vitamins A, D and K.
Vegans come in all shapes and sizes. Some who follow the vegan diet do so from an ‘alternative’ lifestyle point of view which often means avoiding many ‘modern’ products. One which some avoid is fluoride, especially in water and toothpaste. Fluoride protects the enamel on the teeth and without it, you are almost certain to have a lot more cavities.
If you are choosing to follow a vegan diet, we recommend that you educate yourself on the dietary aspects of it so that you get a healthy diet. Organisations such as the Vegan society will have a lot of information that you should find useful.
You should, of course, whether vegan or not, make sure that you still see one of the dentists at The Lodge Dental Suite at least twice a year for a check up. Hopefully, by following the diet carefully, you will avoid the additional cavities suffered by some vegans. However, if you do need one, we offer the option of white dental fillings which provide a more natural appearance to the filled tooth.
Our Cheshunt dental practice can be contacted on 01992 643 388 where our experienced team are on hand to help.