As concerns about high cholesterol, obesity, and sedentary lifestyles dominate discussions among doctors, dentists, and educators, more of our patients consider adopting a vegetarian diet. For others, the decision to avoid consuming meat is an ethical matter. Whatever your reasons for choosing a vegetarian lifestyle, you will enjoy better health when you understand the effects of your diet on your teeth and gums. Waco, TX general dentist Dr. Corbet Locke discusses important nutritional considerations and what they mean for your oral health.

Vegetarianism and Your Oral Health

The Academy of General Dentistry has expressed concerns that many adults who follow a vegetarian diet may face a greater risk of developing gum disease. The AGD attributes this to deficiencies of calcium and vitamin D, which are somewhat lacking in the average vegetarian diet. After years of insufficient calcium and vitamin D intake, your teeth can soften, and you become more prone to periodontal disease and tooth decay. Dr. Locke points out that vitamin D, which your body produces naturally when you spend time outdoors, isn’t as much of a problem as calcium. However, he note that calcium supplements and increased consumption of dairy products will usually address the possibility of deficiencies in this area.

Some Vegetarians Face Greater Risks Than Others

If you understand your body’s nutritional requirements, your oral health will not likely suffer from a vegetarian diet. Children, teens, and adults who are unfamiliar with nutritional principles will face a significantly higher threat. If you choose a vegan diet, which excludes any food or beverage that originates from an animal, these nutrition-related risks increase even more. You will need to supplement your diet with B vitamin complexes, especially riboflavin and cyanocobalamin, or B2 and B12, as well as vitamin D and calcium. If you are unsure whether your current diet meets your nutritional requirements, Dr. Locke recommends contacting a nutritionist.

Commit to a Balanced Diet for Best Results

Fortunately, a healthy variety of grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits will reduce these risks while allowing your body to reap the health benefits of a meat-free diet. You can further supplement your diet with soy milk, leafy greens, and vegetable margarine. Adding a daily multivitamin ensures that your lifestyle and diet choices do not adversely impact your teeth and gums. When you commit to eating a balanced vegetarian diet, you reduce your vulnerability to tooth loss, cavities, oral cancer, and gum disease.

Are you worried that your lifestyle or diet has had an unhealthy effect on your oral health? Regular exams and professional cleanings will help Dr. Corbet Locke determine whether your teeth and gums show signs of decay, neglect, or deficiencies. To schedule an appointment at our Waco, TX advanced dentist office, contact us at 254-776-4888. We serve patients living in Woodway, Hewitt, McGregor, and nearby communities.