The Health Advocate

by Hannah Whittenly, The Health Advocate

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If you’ve chosen to eliminate meat, dairy, and all other animal food products from your diet, you’ll want to take additional measures to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Going vegan certain has its health benefits, but it can also be detrimental to your oral health if certain precautions aren’t followed. Here are some important things that every vegan should know about dental care.

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Calcium Deficiency

Just like the other bones in your body, sufficient calcium levels are needed to keep teeth healthy. You should also make sure that you’re consuming enough vitamin D so that your body can absorb calcium. Getting your calcium in supplement form is helpful, but you can also get a healthy dose of it by eating vegan-friendly foods like dark leafy vegetables, soybeans and calcium-fortified milk. Excellent sources of vitamin D for vegans include mushrooms, tofu, and natural sunlight.

Watch for Phytic Acid

Phytic acid is found in some grains and legumes and can be harmful to your teeth. As explains, phytic acid is considered to be an anti-nutrient because it interferes with iron, zinc and calcium absorption. Having too much phytic acid can result in nutrient deficiencies that might wreak havoc on your oral health. Some of the biggest food culprits for phytic acid include wheat bran, rice bran, and peanuts. To avoid getting too much phytic acid in your diet, avoid eating too much bran and nuts and keep a healthy intake of vegetables and having your beans soaked or sprouted.

Be Sparing with Fruit Juice

The fruit juice that’s sold in stores is known to contain concentrated amounts of sugar, and drinking too much fruit juice can lead to the development of cavities and other serious dental problems. Even all-natural fruit juice is often sugary since fruit naturally contains sugar. If you have a craving for fruit juice, try to select all-natural options made with low-sugar fruits like berries, lemons, and limes. Swishing water in your mouth after drinking sugary drinks can help prevent it from settling on your teeth and becoming food for bacteria, as well. Your dentist at your local dental office can also recommend vegan-friendly fruity beverages that are low in sugar, including what sweeteners are both safe for your system and your teeth, like xylitol or stevia.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency Can Cause Canker Sores

Canker sores are painful lesions that develop inside the mouth, and not getting enough vitamin B12 in your diet can result in these sores developing. To get more vitamin B12 in your diet as a vegan, try eating meat substitutes, fortified non-dairy milk, and breakfast cereals. B12 supplements can be especially helpful when taken regularly, so long as you check the recommended daily percentage listed on the bottle to ensure you’re not overloading your system. If your vitamin B12 levels are especially low because of a medical condition, your doctor may recommend getting injections that can boost your body’s levels.

The vegan diet has been notorious among dentists for high rates of oral problems, but you don’t have to let your new body-healthy lifestyle be unhealthy for your teeth. Eating healthy means being aware of how your food affects all parts of your body, including your teeth. As a vegan, make sure you visit your dentist regularly to ensure that the steps you’re taking in your oral care routine are effective and that your diet is as friendly for your teeth as it is for the rest of you.

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