Vegetarians Have Healthier Gums, But Not Healthier Teeth

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

As important as diet and nutrition are to dental and periodontal health, there have not been many studies on a possible correlation between the vegetarian diet and dental health. Most recently, a research team in Germany has compared periodontal health and dental health between vegetarians and omnivores, and their results were a bit surprising. They found that while vegetarians have better periodontal health, their dental health was overall worse than non-vegetarians.

The research team gathered 100 vegetarians and 100 non-vegetarians for the study. They conducted a complete mouth assessment of all of the participants to assess both their periodontal and dental statuses. They also gave each participant a questionnaire on their oral hygiene habits and level of education.

Vegetarians overall had periodontal health. They had lower probing pocket depths, less gum bleeding when probed, lower periodontal screening index scores, better oral hygiene index scores, and fewer loose teeth. While they were not surprised to see that vegetarians had fewer missing teeth, considering they didn’t have as many loose teeth as non-vegetarians, they were surprised to find that vegetarians’ teeth were more decayed and eroded. They also found that while vegetarians had a higher level of education, vegetarians visited the dentist less frequently.

“In brief, vegetarians have better periodontal health but worse dental health,” Dr Ingmar Staufenbiel, resident dentist in the department, told Dental Tribune ONLINE. “The two main reasons are the lower frequency of dental visits and above all the below-average use of fluoridated toothpaste. Many vegetarians do not use fluoridated toothpaste or salt even though after decades of research the importance of regular preventive fluoridation has been scientifically proven.”

The research also found that overall oral health was the worst in vegans, those who do not consume anything made from animals, including gelatin and capsules. However, since they had a small number of vegans in their study population, they could not successfully test any statistical significance of this result.

Your diet may be extremely healthy, but this does not mean you can forgo proper dental hygiene, which includes consistent dental check-ups. Even if you go as far as avoiding all sugary foods and sweet drinks, you still need your dental check-ups. Need to make an appointment? Contact your local dentist!

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