An overwhelming population in the world is choosing to transition to a vegan or vegetarian diet, due to health concerns about fat and cholesterol. While these meat-free diets are good for overall health, they could have adverse effects on the oral health if nutritional needs are not fulfilled. A completely plant-based diet lacks certain nutrients that are essential for strong bones and teeth. Awareness about well-balanced meals and nutrition can help people in caring for themselves during and after the transition.
The major nutrients
A vegetarian diet is wholesome if you consume the required amount of nutrients like vitamin D, vitamin B12, riboflavin, calcium and certain proteins that are important for the body to function normally. Research has shown that many people often suffer from fiber, vitamin D, vitamin B2/B12 or calcium deficiencies as a result of the transition due to inadequate consumption.
Vitamin D is produced naturally in the body with exposure to sunlight and calcium in the blood. Over time, cutting off calcium from your diet will cause the softening of your teeth, making it susceptible to sensitivity, decay, and periodontal disease. Include milk and milk products in your diet to increase your calcium uptake. If you are a vegan, consume greens like broccoli, spinach, and kale as well as fortified soy meal or fruit juices to keep the nutrient levels up.
In the children
Nutrient deficiencies are more common among children when they make the transition as they are most unaware of their nutritional needs. It is quite important to include grains, fruits, vegetables, milk and greens in their diet to avoid any deficiencies. As the skeletomuscular system in children is developing, they will need calcium rich diet.
Fresh fruits and vegetables usually stimulate the production of saliva in the mouth, which easily neutralizes the acids, turning the intake into an alkaline form. The fiber from fresh food keeps the teeth clean and healthy, protecting it from plaque and germs.
Feel free to consult a dentist, dietician, and a nutritionist when you consider a transition to veganism or vegetarianism.