Whether you have adopted a plant-based diet to protect the environment or because you believe it is wrong to exploit animals, it is important to take care of your oral health. Here are four tips that can help you to keep your teeth and gums healthy without using animal products.
1. Choose Cruelty-Free Dental Products
Most vegans avoid using products that have been tested on animals. Thankfully, this commitment does not mean you have to give up dental products such as toothpaste and mouthwash. Look for dental products that feature the leaping bunny logo, which signifies that a product has not been tested on animals.
2. Eat Sources of Calcium
When you cut dairy products out of your diet, you need to think about how you will get the calcium required for healthy teeth. Most plant milks are fortified with calcium, so the easiest way to reach the recommended calcium intake is simply to replace dairy milk with soy, oat, almond or rice milk.
If you prefer to avoid fortified products, you can include natural calcium sources in your vegan diet. Chickpeas, beans, leafy green vegetables and sesame seeds are all great sources of plant-based calcium.
3. Consider Taking a Vitamin D Supplement
Vitamin D is essential to allow the body to absorb and use calcium. Some animal foods, including oily fish and eggs, contain vitamin D, but it is in short supply on a plant-based diet.
Humans produce vitamin D when their bare skin is exposed to the sun, but too much sun exposure can put you at risk of skin cancer. A safer option is to cover up in the sun and take a vitamin D supplement to avoid deficiencies.
The best type of vitamin D to take is vitamin D3, which absorbs much more easily than vitamin D2. Not all vitamin D3 supplements are vegan, however, as this vitamin is sometimes sourced from animals. Look for one that is sourced from algae to supplement your vegan diet and keep your teeth strong and healthy.
4. Eat Solid Foods
Many people who are new to plant-based eating use smoothies as a way of packing a lot of greens and fruit into their diet. However, juicing and blending up large amounts of fruit exposes your teeth to a lot of free sugars, which feed oral bacteria and encourage tooth decay. On the other hand, chewing on solid fruits and vegetables releases saliva to combat bacterial growth and improves jaw strength. Try to avoid relying on smoothies and include more whole fruits, vegetables and salads in your diet.
Talk to your dentist today to get more tips for maintaining your oral health as a vegan.