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Effects of A Vegan/Plant-Based Diet on Dental Health

According to Google, the search for a vegan or plant-based diet has more than doubled in the last few years. Combined with declining meat sales and celebrities openly adopting this diet for weight loss and better health, it has gained popularity in recent years. Vegan Diet and Dental Health

Vegan=no animal products (meat, dairy) but can include processed foods.

Plant-based=whole foods that come from plants, unprocessed.

Technically, they’re not the same.

Diet Affects Overall Health, Including Dental Health

Two things prompted me to explore the effects of a vegan/plant-based diet on dental health.

First off, I cut the majority of meat and dairy out of my own diet (I consume fish and dairy on a limited basis) and turned to more whole foods. My reasons included lowering my cholesterol–which tends to run high in my family (I will go to great lengths to avoid medication!), to improve the overall quality of my diet and set a better example for my children. I’m a long distance runner, so improving my fitness via better nutrition was also a big incentive. As you can see, any dental benefits were not even on my list.

Secondly, conversations with some patients. A few relayed to me, of their own accord, that ever since they switched to a plant-based diet (to improve other health issues), they noticed in consequence their mouth had been feeling better too. This was confirmed by my hygienist who noted they had much less plaque build-up and healthier gums than previously.

Influence of A Plant-Based Diet On Dental Health

Vegan Diet and Dental HealthIn my opinion, there is no question that a diet without (or less) meat and dairy, and with more plant-based, whole and unprocessed food is beneficial to overall health, lowering the risk of lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, etc. Several studies, including the now-famous China Study, back this up.

Since the mouth is attached to the rest of the body–this benefits our oral health as well.

In addition, a plant-based diet tends to be more alkaline in nature, which then leads to less inflammation. Chronic inflammation negatively impacts our body and affects digestion, metabolism and immunity.  Less inflammation carries over to our gums as well.

Less inflammation = easier teeth cleaning, less sensitivity, less bleeding.

A common concern is that a vegan diet fails to provide adequate calcium and Vitamin D (due to elimination of dairy) which could adversely affect teeth. However, studies looking at these deficiencies were not done exclusively on those on vegan/plant-based diets, but the general population. This means eating more whole foods does not necessarily lead to these deficiencies.

If done correctly, a plant-based diet offers a huge variety of options which can provide all the necessary vitamins and minerals needed for good dental as well as overall health.

Eating Your Way To Better Dental Health

At the end of the day, it is not my goal to convince you to make drastic changes to your diet that perhaps scare you, solely for the benefit of your teeth and gums.

But should you desire to approach your health in terms of whole health, you may consider looking into making small changes that help not just the rest of your body, but something as “small” as your teeth and gums.

Have you made changes to your diet and experienced any effect on your dental health?

(214) 522-3110                              www.raodentistry.com

 

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Choosing Health

(Original Post Date: October 1, 2010)

It’s Fall and every year I think someone sneaky makes the year go faster! As we head into the last few months of 2010, we enter into the favorite part of the year for a lot of folks, i.e., holiday time, which entails a lot of fun with family and friends, travel, and of course, FOOD. Who can think of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas without thinking of food? I dare you.

I would like to share a very interesting and entertaining lecture that I attended yesterday, that dealt with health and wellness, entitled “Your health…Your Responsibility!” Now most of us wouldn’t really consider the anticipated content eye-opening (how many times have we heard this?), but I for one always find this topic interesting. I think it’s one of those things we NEED to hear positive and encouraging things about over and over again, because…well…our health is something we need to pay attention to over and over again.

The talk was presented by Mr. Todd Whitthorne, who heads up one of the divisions at the Cooper Institute here in Dallas. The Cooper Institute does pretty much everything that has to do with health and wellness-fitness, nutrition, education, research, etc. In fact, it is known worldwide for its clinical research studies and education.

Todd Whitthorne, Cooper Institute

In brief, it touched on the current trends in our country relating to increasing obesity, a lifestyle lacking in physical movement, and increasing deficiencies in Vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids. The entire discussion would fill pages, but essentially links have been established with numerous studies between the above and rising rates of heart disease, cancer (17 kinds!), diabetes, etc. In the dental realm, lack of Vitamin D and omega-3s have also been linked to periodontal disease.

If we consider how the quality of our lives is endangered in our later years, not to mention the cost of healthcare, our wellness is difficult to ignore (try as we might). This is not a scare tactic. It is a call to action and to making a better decision when we are at a crossroads in our daily life choices. It’s our health, our responsibility.

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Filed under Dental, Health, Wellness