While we all know that sugar can cause cavities, most of us probably don’t think about our diets affecting our oral health beyond soft drinks and candy.
Certain nutritional deficiencies can have an impact on oral health. Other, seemingly unrelated diseases of the body have also been linked to poor oral health, although an absolute causal connection has yet to be established.
While the causal connection between oral health and cardiovascular risk is still unclear, the connection between fat and cholesterol found in meat, dairy, and other animal products have been more established for much longer.
Processed meats such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs, ham, and packaged sliced meats have been classified as carcinogens by the World Health Organization (WHO). The conclusions were based off of expert review of over 800 studies.
Meats that are said to be “processed” includes those that have been prepared in some way to preserve or flavor it. This means salting, curing, fermenting, or smoking.
These findings and declarations have led to an increased adoption in vegetarianism and veganism. While such diets may be beneficial for overall health, they can lead to certain deficiencies that have a detrimental impact on oral health. Taking the proper supplements and adding the right foods to a vegetarian or vegan diet can prevent this risk.
Some vegans can suffer deficiencies in nutrients like vitamin D, vitamin B12, calcium, and some amino acids. Animal products are a prime source of vitamin B12 and amino acids (the building blocks of proteins). Research has shown that the correct vegetables and grains in the right quantity can provide the nutrients needed by those who abide by a plant-based diet.
A lack of calcium and vitamin D can easily lead to softening of the enamel of the teeth. A softer enamel enables the development of dental cavities and tooth decay by weakening the structure of teeth. While cow’s milk is a source of vitamin D and calcium for many, nutritional supplements are also available. Vitamin D is created by the body when exposed to sunlight. Certain soy products and vegetables also contain calcium.
A patient’s diet is a crucial aspect for dental health professionals to consider. Be sure to always inform your dentist of your dietary habits. It’s also recommended that you consult with a nutritionist or dentist (or both) to learn how to incorporate the right foods that will provide your body with all the nutrients it needs.
When you make an appointment with McBride Dental, we will be sure to incorporate all relevant information into your care. Contact us today.