Plant-based diets are diets that focus primarily on vegetables and other foods from plants, including nuts, beans, and seeds. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a vegan—people who consume no animal products—or a vegetarian, which includes people who eat no meat. Eating plant-based just means most of your food comes from plants!
Research shows that plant-based diets can be beneficial for your overall health, even reducing the risk of heart disease, depression, and certain types of cancers . But what does research have to say about plant-based diets for your dental health?
A Plant-Based Diet Could Help Prevent Oral Cancer
Oral cancer includes cancers of the mouth, tongue, cheeks, and throat, and affects tens of thousands of Americans every year. If diagnosed early, oral cancer has a fairly high successful treatment rate, making those checkups with your dentist that include oral cancer screenings all the more important.
Current evidence shows that a diet high in plant-based foods including fruits and vegetables may help prevent oral cancer . Of course, avoiding tobacco products and reducing your consumption of alcohol are important factors in avoiding oral cancer as well!
Veggies Are an Essential Part of a Healthy Diet for Teeth
Vegetables are part of a healthy diet for oral health, and provide essential nutrients that your smile needs to stay healthy . All types of veggies and fruits can support your oral health! Protein is an important component of dental health as well, as it supports strong and healthy teeth and gum tissue.
Protein is able to be consumed in the form of plants, and it’s certainly possible to get all the protein you need from plant-based sources, but you may also choose to supplement with animal products. Excellent protein sources from plants include beans, nuts, soy, quinoa, seeds, oats, and rice.
Eating Mostly Plant-Based Could Improve Gum Health
In one study, vegetarians had less inflammation and gum damage than non-vegetarians . In this same study, vegetarians also had better oral hygiene, fewer missing teeth, and stronger teeth.
While this evidence shows that vegetarians may have better oral health, it doesn’t mean you have to stop eating meat or other animal products completely—just that you can focus more on plants to reap the benefits for your smile!
So What’s the Verdict?
Your body needs a well-balanced diet to support not just your oral health but your overall health as well. Choosing a plant-based diet can positively impact your health, but it doesn’t mean you have to completely get rid of animal products. Try to aim for smaller and fewer servings of animal products, or have them only a few days a week instead of every day.
And, of course, always brush and floss your teeth daily, and schedule regular visits with your dentist every six months or as recommend by your oral healthcare professional. Diet plays a critical role in your oral health, but so do your oral care habits—so do your best to pay attention to both!