A plant based diet is healthy in many ways – but how does it impact your child’s teeth? Our pediatric dental office sees lots of patients who are vegan or vegetarian, and here’s what we’ve learned about these diets and how they play a role in your child’s dental development.
Plant Based Diets Mean Less Sugar
One of the greatest benefits of a plant-based diet is the lack of refined and processed sugar. Less sugar is better for your overall health, but it is really beneficial for your teeth? A diet with a large amount of sugar is one of the surest ways to get cavities – so opting for plant-based foods over processed ones can help cut the amount of sugar your child consumes naturally. Less sugar means that plant-based diets are a dental win for most kids. Additionally, it can also mean that they will grow-up with less of a sweet-tooth than other children, and will not typically crave unhealthy snacks like gummy candies and vitamins, which are the absolute worst thing for your child’s oral health!
Plant-Based Diets Lack Some Nutrients
Plant-based diets can be a wonderful thing for your overall health, but since some nutrients come from animal-based foods and products, your child could be missing out on some key nutrients. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, kids with a vegetarian diet may end up lacking some of the most tooth-friendly nutrients, namely calcium and vitamin D. Calcium supports healthy teeth and bones – if you’re vegan and not consuming dairy, you could be missing out. On the positive side, you can always incorporate and include foods like legumes, beans, and leafy greens into their diet to ensure they have enough tooth-friendly calcium each day, which will make their teeth stronger and healthier.
Some Plant Foods are Acidic
Foods with a lot of acidity can wreak havoc on your child’s tooth enamel. When you have a lot of citrus and other highly acidic foods (including tomatoes and similar veggies) in your diet, your risk of tooth decay rises. Your child doesn’t have to stop eating these otherwise healthy foods – but just be sure to remind the kids to brush their teeth 30-minutes after eating to prevent the risk of decay.
A plant-based diet has many benefits for kids, provided you are aware of and make accommodations when needed. Want to make sure your vegetarian or vegan child is maintaining good dental health? Schedule an appointment with us today to see how we can help!