Can a Vegetarian Diet Affect Your Oral Health?
Whether for health or ethical reasons, many people opt to be vegetarian or vegan. However, meat is a good source of many essential vitamins and minerals. Without them, vegetarians may have a higher risk for oral health problems, including gum disease. Luckily, there are other ways to get those nutrients to ensure that your smile stays healthy.
Dairy is well known as a great source of calcium, a mineral that makes teeth and bones strong. Milk, cheese and calcium-fortified cereal all contain the bone-building mineral. While vegetarians usually eat eggs and dairy, vegans avoid all animal products. Fortunately, some of the best sources of calcium are completely vegetarian- and vegan-friendly, like dark leafy greens, broccoli and tofu.
Your body needs vitamin D to process calcium, so low levels may have an effect on gum disease and tooth loss. Vegetarians can get a daily dose by eating cooked egg yolks or drinking fortified milk. Vegans and vegetarians alike can look for other foods with vitamin D, such as mushrooms and fortified cereal. Spending time outside can also help your body produce the vitamin naturally.
If you're worried you're lacking calcium and vitamin D, you may want to consider supplements. Discuss your diet and nutritional needs with your dentist or physician.