There are many health concerns about fat and cholesterol that have prompted many to turn vegetarian. Whilst a vegetarian diet can have great overall health benefit, vegetarians need to be aware of how this lifestyle choice will affect their oral health. By eliminating certain food groups, vegetarians are at higher risk of missing out on key nutrients that are essential for good oral health.
With information being easily accessible through our fingertips, many adults are knowledgeable about nutrition and maintain healthy diets by consuming a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes to get the nutrients they need. However, children may not be as discerning when it comes to maintaining a well-balances and nutritional diet for proper growth, putting them into higher risk.
Although vegetarian diets tend to vary, some vegetarians, particularly those who do not consume any food of animal origin, can experience deficiencies in calcium, vitamin D, riboflavin, vitamin B12 or complete proteins. An adult on a vegetarian diet for a prolonged period can be at higher risk of periodontal (gum) disease from lack of vitamins and calcium.
Teeth may soften when there is a shortage of vitamin D, making it more susceptible to decay and periodontal disease. However, Vitamin D is produced naturally in the body with sun exposure, so deficiencies are rare, but it can develop in those who do not consume milk or fish. Deficiencies in calcium are more common but can be easily remedied with proper diet.
A balanced diet is the key, studies have shown that by eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes, vegetarians can get all the nutrients they need. Adding vegetable margarine, soy milk, nutritional yeast and extra leafy greens to your diet will lessen the risk of vitamin deficiency. A daily multivitamin is also a great way to supplement a vegetarian diet.
The Academy of General Dentistry recommend anyone that is considering a vegetarian diet should consult with a dentist or nutritionist to learn about food substitutes. Since diet is an important part of an individual’s medical history, and patients should always inform their dentist if they adhere to vegetarian or other special diets.
This month we have been highlighting the importance of good oral hygiene. In addition to brushing and flossing, a healthy diet is the best defense against teeth and gum problems. Eating a balanced variety of fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes will help vegetarians ensure a healthy, well-rounded diet and a healthy smile. Join us in our Dental Competition: Shine Bright, we are giving away Scaling & Polishing Service to one Lucky Winner. Check out our social media for more information: www.facebook.com/BeverlyWilshireMedical/