Let’s begin with some definitions:
- Vegetarians who only eat fish are called pescetarians–people who avoid all meat-based proteins except for fish are at the lowest risk for oral health issues because most pescetarians also eat cheese and eggs, and vitamin D is most often found in fish.
- Lacto-ovo vegetarians consume animal products like cheese, eggs, and yogurt. This diet provides more access to calcium, but very little to vitamin D.
- Vegans also avoid all animal-derived food sources including eggs, cheese, and milk. Some vegans even avoid honey!
Unfortunately, with a vegetarian diet, it can be difficult to get foods rich enough in calcium and vitamin D to keep your teeth and gums strong and healthy. So if you’re a vegetarian or thinking about becoming one, check in with your Cherry Hill, Gibbsboro, Linwood, or dentist next time you come by for a visit for some advice about how to protect your teeth and gums.
We also recommend the following steps and strategies:
- Visit a dietician. Dieticians are trained to help people understand how much of which kinds of food to eat in order to have a healthy vegetarian diet. A dietician can also assess your current health, activity level, and body type to make stronger recommendations.
- Don’t skimp on broccoli and dark leafy greens like turnip greens, kale, spinach, and collards to get enough calcium. If you don’t love the dark leafies, a variety of vitamin C-fortified products are available at the supermarket: some brands of orange juice, tofu, soy milk, and cereal are calcium-enriched.
- Understand that calcium is useless without vitamin D to help the body absorb it! Many of the products listed above are also fortified with vitamin D.
- If you don’t have access to D-enriched products, or prefer to eat raw, it would be smart to use a vitamin D supplement, ask us or your general physician for recommendations.
Visit us next time you’re near by and talk to us about how to make sure you’re eating a proper diet to maintain your oral health. We absolutely encourage independent inquiry, but while web research is an important starting place, it’s best to work in concert with your health professionals.