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Vegetarian Diet Doesn't Always Make for a Healthier Mouth
August 14, 2013

By Nancy Volkers
InteliHealth News Service

INTELIHEALTH - Vegetarians have healthier gums but more tooth decay than people with other diets. That's the conclusion of a new study.

German researchers studied 100 vegetarians and 100 people who ate meat as well as plants. Their average age was about 42. They all were given dental exams. Compared with non-vegetarians, vegetarians had:

  • Healthier, less inflamed gums
  • Better oral hygiene
  • Fewer missing teeth and fewer loose teeth
  • More decayed teeth
  • More tooth erosion
  • Less frequent visits to the dentist

The authors suggested that vegetarians may practice an overall healthier lifestyle. That would explain why they had healthier gums, better oral hygiene and fewer missing teeth. They did not suggest reasons that vegetarians had more decayed teeth, more erosion or fewer dental visits.

Few other studies have focused on vegetarians' dental health. One small study in 1985 found that vegetarians had more tooth erosion than people who ate meat. The study did not offer an explanation. A 2011 study did not find such a difference.

The German study appears in the August issue of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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