New year, new diet – But is going vegan bad for your teeth?

A child at the dentist

Veganism is one of the fastest-growing food trends in the world with A-list celebrities including Zac Efron and David Attenborough promoting the benefits of a meat-free diet. 

In the space of a few years, Australia has quickly become the second most popular country in the world for vegans. 

But, because nothings ever as it seems, before embarking on a dietary change you should do your research and consider the potential impacts on your oral health.

We grilled with Doctor Rick Iskandar, who’s a Philips Sonicare ambassador and principal dentist at Tailored Teeth, who had some important things to say.

Dentist toothbrush

Why do dentists go on about toothbrushes and oral health?

  • Many of the complaints people have about their mouth and teeth are caused by plaque, a sticky layer containing colonies of bacteria and their by-products that forms on our teeth over time. Bad breath, gum disease, tooth decay and staining can all be caused by plaque being left on your teeth and gums for longer than it should be.
  • Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily limits the amount of time plaque and bacteria sit on your teeth and helps to prevent many of the smelly, unsightly or painful consequences of neglected teeth.
  • The right toothbrush is key to good oral health. I started recommending electric toothbrushes over manual brushes a few years ago. My patients and I are interested in effectiveness, safety, and efficiency when we brush our teeth. For that reason, I recommend the Philips Sonicare range. The Philips DiamondClean 9000 model is especially impressive to me as it has been proven to remove 10x more plaque and up to 100% more stains than a manual toothbrush. It also offers smart functions that report on, and customise your brushing technique with its companion app.

Do you really need to consult a dentist before taking on drastic alterations to how and what you eat?

  • Absolutely, the dental team is trained to advise you on how your dietary choices will affect the health and strength of your teeth and gums.
  • The impact of our diet has a dramatic impact on our oral health. For example, by adopting a vegan diet, you are naturally reducing your intake of calcium which is needed to support healthy teeth and gums. There is also some evidence that suggests the saliva of those adopting a vegan diet can be more acidic, further weakening your tooth enamel.
  • Dietary changes resulting in a higher sugar intake directly increases your risk of developing decay.
  • A dental health expert can advise you of the things you need to look out for and provide tips tailored to your diet by going through a diet diary or journal with you.

Have you had any personal experiences where a patient’s diet has dramatically impacted their oral health?

  • Definitely! We see this the effects of diet on dental health all the time, but there’s definitely an uptick when certain popular diet fads that come out – remember when it was super popular to add cut citrus wedges to your water bottle and sip on it all day, supposedly to ‘alkalise the body and boost your metabolism’? We saw a big jump in erosion, including a few patients that ended up with yellow holes all the way through their enamel where the middle layer of the tooth started to show through!

What do we need to consider when eating our favourite foods? Any tips?

  • ‘Everything in moderation’ is an overused adage, but it’s definitely applicable here! Excessive sugar and acid in our diet takes its toll on our teeth and causes them to become diseased, stained and age prematurely
  • If you are going to have an acidic or sugary food or beverage, limit it to the shortest period that is practical, e.g. If you’re going to have a soft drink, have it during a meal rather than sipping it over a number of hours.
  • Avoid brushing for 30 mins after eating or drinking anything except water. For this length of time after we eat, our enamel is softer than usual and brushing too soon can damage this protective layer.

What’s your favourite thing about brushing, food and oral health?

  • The right combination of correct brushing and flossing, good diet choices and maintaining a high standard of oral health is one of the most powerful anti-aging tools we have!
  • We only get one set of adult teeth and treatments for replacing lost teeth are rarely as easy, successful or durable as maintaining the health of our natural teeth.
  • Receiving the correct information, tailored guidance and observing good quality, daily preventative maintenance will slow down the decline in dental health and the deterioration of the appearance of our smiles that is associated with getting older, it can even slow down the development of wrinkles in the lower face!

One of the best ways to take of your teeth with a new diet is by using the Philips Sonicare ExpertClean 7300. Find out more at the website!