Some people choose to become vegetarians for ethical reasons, some for the health benefits, and many for religious purposes. Whatever the reason, the oral health implications of vegetarianism are the same. There are some areas where your health benefits from not eating meat and there are areas where you need to supplement your diet.
Vegetarianism can certainly be beneficial to your health – clean arteries! Still, any restrictive diet can contribute to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. For this reason, it is important to mention to your dentist your vegetarian lifestyle. Your dentist can give you tips to make sure you get all the nutrients necessary for a healthy mouth.
The two most common deficiencies in long-term vegetarians are vitamin D and calcium. Deficiencies in vitamin D and calcium cause teeth to soften, which makes them more vulnerable to tooth decay and periodontal disease1. Veganism, the strictest form of vegetarianism, can also put followers at risk for vitamin B and B12 deficiencies. The potential for troublesome deficiencies are prevalent among young adults and teens who adopt a vegetarian diet without researching how they should supplement their diet with the necessary nutrients.
The good news is that your body naturally produces vitamin D with sun exposure. Make sure to get the right amount of sunlight to help combat this deficiency. A daily supplement with all the necessary vitamins and minerals is also a good idea, especially for younger vegetarians as they continue to grow and develop.
Do you have an experience with vegetarianism or veganism that you would like to share? Feel free to leave your stories in the comment section.
1 “How Vegetarians Can Ensure Good Oral Health.” Delta Dental. Web. 24 Apr. 2012. <http://www.deltadentalins.com/oral_health/vegetarian.html>.