Deciding to eat an animal-free diet is a big commitment. While the benefits of living a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle are plentiful, there are also some new challenges that you?ll be faced with. One of those challenges is a higher propensity for developing cavities and tooth decay.
Why are vegans more likely to get cavities?
Vegan diets are great for cleansing out your system and relaxing your digestive system. That?s why you may notice that vegans tend to feel better and healthier, because their diet helps rid their body of toxins. The problem is that in some cases, it?s hard for vegans to rebuild after this detoxification because they don?t get animal fats and proteins that help the body sustain itself.
In other words, a vegan diet doesn?t allow you to get the fat-soluble vitamins (found in animal fat) or essential amino acids that your body uses to build tissue and bones. This means that your teeth are more susceptible to decay, since they?re not getting the same level of nutrients as meat eaters.
With that being said, there is still recourse for non-meat eaters worried about developing cavities.
Minerals: As a vegan, you should be trying to consume as many healthy minerals as you can. You can get this through vegetable soups and juices. Try getting around 10 cups of juice and/or soup a day for your mineral intake. When you?re looking for juices, try not to drink too many sweet ones such as carrot juice. Also be cautious of spinach juice because it contains high levels of phytic acid.
Eat fewer sweets: In the case of vegetarians and vegans, sweet foods usually equates to sweet fruits. They?re a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth instead of candy, but they can also alter your blood chemistry. Changes to your blood chemistry can be a common cause of tooth decay and oral disease.
More fat-soluble vitamins: Since animal fats are out of the question, you will have to look for other sources of these vitamins. Some popular choices include nuts, olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado.
Avoid processed foods: Many people choose a vegan lifestyle specifically to eat more naturally and as a result, they eat less processed/junk food. So for most vegans, this isn?t an issue, but it?s still worth mentioning.
Some other common foods that have been known to cause cavities for vegans are:
- Soy, rice, and almond milk
Visit your dentist
No matter what type of diet you have, visiting your dentist regularly (every 6 months) is essential to good oral health. You need to get regular cleanings, have your gums examined, and get any necessary procedures that will keep your teeth healthy.
It?s important that you tell your dentist that you are a vegan, so that they are able to better assess any dental issues you may be having. They might attribute cavities or tooth decay to deficiencies in your diet.
You should also get bloodwork done annually at your doctor?s office. This is important for vegans and non-vegans. The doctor will be able to tell you which nutrients you?re lacking, which in turn will give you a clearer picture of where your diet may be coming up short.
Should children eat vegan?
Getting healthy teeth starts from when you?re young. Just like the rest of your body, your teeth need to be well maintained to grow properly. Since a vegan diet can lack many of the necessary nutrients for great oral health, it?s not typically recommended for children to have a vegan diet, but ultimately it?s the parent?s decision. Consult with your local dentist to help you decide whether or not it?s a good option for your child.
You shouldn?t let cavities or other possible dental issues deter you from living a vegan lifestyle. It will require you to make some adjustments, but it?s absolutely possible to maintain a vegan diet while keeping your teeth healthy.