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Great dental hygiene is crucial in the maintenance of a healthy smile, but what if your diet is reversing your hard work?

This post by Chris Masterjohn, PhD, reviews Weston Price’s Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. To write his book, Price studied various groups of people around the world to reveal the effects of processed foods brought into commerce by industrialization. These groups “living in very different latitudes, altitudes, and climates all had remarkably vibrant health when they consumed their traditional diets, including freedom from tooth decay… even though some of the groups didn’t bother to clean their teeth.” Price concluded that the groups’ healthy mouths were a result of nutrient-rich diets, free from industrialization, processed sugars, preservatives, and chemicals.

You may be thinking, “Oh, awesome! I’m trying out a vegan diet right now. I’m good. Moving on.”

Actually, Price’s study proved the commonality between these various groups’ diets was fat-soluble vitamins found in animal foods. A diet comprised of mainly fruits and vegetables creates a deficiency in Vitamin D and Calcium, increasing risk for gingivitis and periodontal disease. According to a 2010 study, vegan subjects showed significantly higher incidences of demineralization and white spots than their omnivorous counterparts. Demineralization and white spots are markers for enamel erosion.

To maintain oral health on a vegan diet, it is important to rinse the mouth with water immediately after eating, especially acidic foods. It’s very important to refrain from brushing immediately after eating, as the acidity in many foods soften the teeth, making them more susceptible to erosion.

K. Herman, A. Czajczy’nska-Waszkiewicz, M. Kowalczyk-Zając, M. Dobrzy’nski. Assessment of the influence of vegetarian diet on the occurrence of erosive and abrasive cavities in hard tooth tissues. Postepy Hig Med Dosw (Online) 2011 65(NA):764 – 769 
L. Laffranchi, F. Zotti, S. Bonetti, D. Dalessandri, P. Fontana. Oral implications of the vegan diet: Observational study. Minerva Stomatol 2010 59(11 – 12):583 – 591