By the nature of their diets, vegetarians take in different nutrients and minerals than people who eat meat. Certain elements, such as protein, can easily be found in non-meat items such as nuts and tofu. Calcium and Vitamin D, on the other hand, aren’t necessarily found so easily in vegetarian foods; it’s even harder to find in vegan foods.
Higher Occurrence of Tooth Decay
Saliva is the mouth’s way of naturally washing away bad bacteria and food particles that would otherwise stick to the gums. Vegetarians have been found to produce less saliva than non-vegetarians. Additionally, their saliva tends to be more acidic, which can eat away at the tooth enamel more quickly and lead to more causes of tooth decay.
Beyond the substances that can harm a person’s teeth (acid) and the elements that help keep bad bacteria and leftover food away (saliva), vegetarians and vegans face another problem regarding their oral health: demineralization.
Demineralization of Teeth
Enamel is able to main its hard, protective shell because of the minerals that comprise each tooth. Generally speaking, the higher the mineral content, the harder the teeth will be. A lack of minerals causes teeth to become weak and susceptible to cavities and decay. Eventually, teeth that have experienced severe demineralization will likely be more susceptible to internal damage, as well. Severe demineralization can cause the sensitive root that lies beneath the enamel’s surface to become exposed—the end result of which can be extremely painful.
Ensuring Proper Oral Health in Vegetarians
It’s essential to get the proper levels of calcium and phosphates. The following are some sources vegetarians can use to boost their intake of calcium and Vitamin D (depending on their specific vegetarian diets, of course):
- Fortified milk
- Fortified margarine
- Fatty fish (cod, salmon, mackerel, sardines)
- Mushrooms (if they’re grown in UV light)
- Supplements from lichen
- Calcium-fortified soy or nut milks
- Soybeans and soy nuts
- Bok choy
- Mustard greens
- Collard greens
- Chinese cabbage
Not sure how to integrate these items into your diet? Start looking online! There’s an entire world of amazing recipes on the web!
If you’re worried you’re not getting enough calcium and Vitamin D in your diet, it’s important to see your dentist regularly. Centre Dentaire is the dental center Lachine residents trust for bright smiles and healthy teeth. Schedule an appointment to meet with Dre Nathalie Kadoch today!