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Having serious doubts about our veg diet--help with dental health!

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

We went to the dentist last week and it turns out my son (22 months) has two cavities and I have a few as well---I've never had a cavity until now :(. Since then I've been doing lots of research on nutritional/homeopathic ways of healing teeth---and finding that lots of mamas here at MDC have had success using nutritionally dense diets that include bone broths and organ meats. I'm definitely going to be adding raw milk and butter oil to our diets, but I'm really on the fence about the meat/broth. I've been a vegetarian for 6 years and feel healthy in general, but definitely a bit "zapped" from my pregnancy and continued breastfeeding. 


I guess what I'm hoping to hear is from vegetarian mamas who either have great teeth in their families or who've been able to reverse or arrest tooth decay on a veg diet. I'd prefer my son not eat meat, but I'm also willing to do pretty much anything to avoid more cavities and tooth decay. 





post #2 of 15

We're vegan with no tooth issues.

post #3 of 15

No cavities or tooth problems in the three kids and two parents in our family.  We were vegan for about 9 years, and vegetarian for about 10 years before that.  (The kids are now 8, 5 and 1). 


Now we've supplemented our diet with eggs from our pet chickens, but that has only been for a few months, and not for any specific health reasons. 


Personally, I don't think that there are sound reasons that one should add meat or broth to one's diet.  It is very trendy to do that right now, but in my opinion, after having read the info on that stuff, I am unconvinced - it sounds scientific, but if you really look at the evidence, it is lacking.  There is a lot of misinterpretation, pseudoscience and anti-vegetarian rhetoric involved.  I think that much of the convincing power of these arguments to drink bone-broth etc. lies not in the evidence, but in fear-based manipulation of the reader.  (Okay, I'm stepping down off the soap-box.....Sorry if I'm being obnoxious.)


p.s.  We live near Santa Fe, and my youngest is nearly the same age as yours!  Maybe we'll meet in person some day. 

post #4 of 15

Oh I am so happy to post on this thread :)

I grew up "vegetarian" but what it really meant to my mom, God bless her, was lots of potato soup, mac'n'cheese and baked potatoes......she never liked to cook and admittedly we were pretty poor and maybe she couldn't afford variety.

I have had several fillings in my childhood years but naively never anticipated anything but perfection for my baby girl, lol.  When her teeth seemed to emerge from her gums mis-shapen and not fully formed it was alarming but I think I was in denial.  And also I had since stopped being a vegetarian for about 4 years and was actually following a more traditional foods type diet although not strictly or as well as I could have been.

I seeked out a dentist who could do ozone treatments on my daughters teeth once I knew what the real problem was and was SO lucky to find a dentist in our town at the time.  He did three treatments and arrested the decay, that was @ 18mos and still, at four, her teeth are healthy and strong.  I also tracked down a raw milk share and started her on cod liver oil.



But with all of this info I have since gone back to a mostly vegetarian diet.  With the exception of her cod liver oil, butter oil and occassionally fish for a meal we are happier and healthier on a vegetarian diet that includes quality eggs, raw milk cheeses and low in sugar which I have come to understand disrupts the body in absorbing nutrients that our teeth need to stay healthy.


I definately think we can be healthy vegetarians, but possibly it is harder to be healthy vegans when teeth are an issue?


For us it is easier to consider eating fish and dairy than it is to continue with meats which never felt 100% right.


And you can stocks that are VERY high in nurtients and minerals from fish bones.


A great book, my best resource in our teeth issues, was:  CURE TOOTH DECAY by Ramiel Nagel, it is chock full of wonderful information to help you through this!





post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 

The truth is, I haven't really looked into the science behind the bone broth/organ meat claims, which is a great point dovey. I'm usually a very evidence based decision maker, but I have a hard time wading through all the different theories about diet and nutrition. I think the cavities were just a wake up call to me that our diet isn't as healthy as I was pretending. We're on a pretty tight budget and I haven't been great about meal planning so I often just throw things together for dinner, without focusing enough on meeting all our nutritional needs. I sort of feel like I've been living on peanutbutter and jelly sandwiches since my son was born :/  


We do eat fish, so I'm going to increase the amount and start making fish bone broths (thanks for the idea dauphinette!) I've also order cod liver oil and butter oil and am searching for raw milk (know of any providers close by dovey?) I'm off to order a copy of Nagel's book--thanks again dauphinette :)


Overall I'm just feeling lost in the wide world of nutrition--for awhile I was convinced that cow milk was terrible, so we switched to almond milk, but now I'm reconsidering that as well. And same with soy--we eat a fair amount of tofu, tempeh, and ground meat "alternative," but lately I've been reading a lot about how bad soy can be (at least in high quantities.) 


Thanks for the input ladies--and for not making me feel like a terrible person for even considering eating meat. And dovey--I'd love to get our little ones together at some point! I'm always looking for more mama friends. :) 

post #6 of 15

I totally remember how overwhelming it all seemed when it hit me that our little girl's teeth were mis-formed because of severe cavities, it was rough!

But try not to let it really overwhelm you, there are simple things you can do, seriously.


Consider xylitol, we use xylitol toothpaste and while some MDC moms find it controversial we felt like it was a good choice and her dentist thinks so, too.


I'm glad you are odering the book by Ramiel Nagel, it is comprehensive and you won't need much more info.  But also, check out the dental forum here on MDC if you haven't, a lot of other parents have already been down this road and have paved the way with TONS of great info, just search any questions you might have there.


The raw milk and CLO are gonna be great help, we order the CLO that is mixed with the high vitamin butter oil from BEEYOUTIFUL.com for a pretty fair price.


But I have to reitterate that I don't think we could have had as good of results as we did unless we found the ozone treatments, arresting the decay gave us the opportunity to heal her from the inside, too, with the supplements etc.


Good luck, it does get easier, but you do have make some significant efforts from our experience.


post #7 of 15

I think that a diet low in processed foods, sugars, and salt and high in vegetables, whole grains, and protein is the key to a variety of health issues. If you're eating a lot of soy products and that sort of processed food, try switching up some of your recipes and using lentils, kidney beans, white beans, any beans instead of the "fake" meat products. Dried beans are always best, but frozen and canned are fine to. I've been vegan and vegetarian for almost ten years now, and I've had minimal tooth problems. When I was a child and eating meat, I had at least 6 cavities filled and two root canals. But that's just me. Some people are meant to eat meat, and some people aren't. You gotta listen to your body. More important than if you eat meat or not, is what comes along with the foods you're eating- what hormones, chemicals, etc. Factory farmed meat has hormones and all sorts of nasty things, and that meat was fed on a very unhealthy, low-in-nutrition diet, so that meat isn't very good. Animals that eat a well balanced, wild menu will make for more nutritious meat.


I try to eat a pretty well-balanced meal, with the exception of a candy bar every couple days and some processed, enriched, non-nutritious grains thrown in to the mix. I try to eat as much dark leafy greens as is seasonally appropriate, and I have root vegetables a few times a week (as is seasonally appropriate). My husband has a very physically taxing job, so I make sure to have some protein in every meal. We get eggs from the free-range chickens our Amish neighbors keep (only $2/dz!) so I supplement the variety of legumes we consume with that. I make sure to have rice or some grain with the beans on most occasions, to make for a complete protein. Red quinoa is also said to be a complete protein.


Now, the diet I'm describing is not realistic for most people. I don't have a child yet, and I prioritize healthy eating over many other things.


Oh, and I do know a few people who eat very, very strictly non-processed diets (like raw food diet) and don't brush their teeth. Since I do eat candy bars and processed grains, I do brush my teeth with non-fluoride, non-SLS tea tree toothpaste.

post #8 of 15

I have been vegan 17 years and have never had a cavity. Anectdata.

post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 

dauphinette-thanks for more great tips and info. I've ordered xylitol, cod liver oil, and am looking into butter oil (so pricey! eek!) And I've been reading through the dental archives here on MDC--which is what originally made me doubt our vegetarian diet, since so many mamas swear by organ meats, bone broths, and the primal diet. Looking forward to reading Ramiel Nagel's book---and I've started looking around for a dentist that does ozone treatment with kiddos. Glad to hear your little one's teeth have cleared up!


elizabeth--I agree that a balanced diet is the key to optimal health. And while I was pretending that we were doing a good job, the truth is, our diet has some big holes in it. I used to be fanatical about healthy eating, but sort of slipped when my son was born and haven't been able to catch up since. But I'm definitely getting in gear now! I just stocked up on a bunch of different kinds of dried beans, as well as quinoa and a ton of kale, and I'm going to be much more careful about making sure we get enough "live" food at each meal. 



post #10 of 15

Chewing gum after meals, staying on track with dental cleanings, frequent flossing, frequent mouth rinse (with just water), brushing with toothpaste a couple times a day, and cutting sugar maybe can help?  Not 100% veg here but I haven't eaten beef or pork since I was a kid and rarely eat poultry and didn't have cavities as a kid and rarely cavities as an adult (I had two when I went years without seeing a dentist but I didn't even know it - they weren't deep and not bad at all).  I also stay away from sugars not naturally found in fruit in my diet and always have had that tendency in general. My DH used to have frequent cavities and I didn't.  So he started observing what I did and we started eating very close to the same diet and his dentist appointments aren't so bad anymore.  I have always heard in general from dentists vegetarians have cleaner mouths and less cavities.  So not sure you need to start adding meat into his diet for dental health reasons alone.  

post #11 of 15
Originally Posted by gitanamama View Post And I've been reading through the dental archives here on MDC--which is what originally made me doubt our vegetarian diet, since so many mamas swear by organ meats, bone broths, and the primal diet.

I do think I had to become basically a "mommy expert" fr lack of a better or less annoying term for it, lol, but I do think I had to learn everything, kinda immerse myself in all of the info I could get my hands on before I could pick n choose what felt right to me and then also it has been some trial and error, basically assulting the problem with anything that I hoped or believed might work and letting some stuff fall off and only keeping what seems to work for us.

post #12 of 15

I've been vegan for over 13 years and have no tooth issues. My son is 5 and has been vegan since birth and has zero tooth issues. We eat a very low-processed, whole food diet and he was breastfed until age two or so. I'm not sure if any of that is related but I just thought I'd share.

post #13 of 15

I was vegan for 5 years and ovo-lacto vegetarian for 10 years. 2 1/2 of my vegan years were 100% raw (including my pregnancy) and all my years as a vegan were soy and processed food free. I have never personally had any teeth issues, but my daughter has brown spots on her front top four teeth and the two front left teeth and getting very small chips.


About a month ago, we started eating eggs, raw dairy, ghee (a cheaper alternative to butter oil) and fermented cod liver oil, brushing religiously with spry's zylitol toothpaste, and have seen amazing improvement in her teeth. They are actually starting to turn white again, and look so much stronger. We haven't resorted to any bone broths or liver (or any other meat for that matter), but if we didn't see improvement we definitely would have given it a try.


My husband was vegan for 15 years before this. In his younger years he was totally an animal liberation punk rock kid, but a lot has changed since we had our daughter. In his words, "It's one thing to sacrifice your own health for your moral beliefs, but it is another thing to ruin your child's health for the rest of their lives."


I am in no way saying that if you eat a vegan diet you are ruining your child's health, I am just saying that for us it wasn't working and we had to make the change for the sake of our daughter.

post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thank you all so much for chiming in and sharing your experiences. It's wonderful to hear from families who have great dental health with a vegan diet, and also really encouraging to hear from those who have adjusted their diets after running into tooth problems. ahimsamom--I love your husband's perspective--very much in line with how I'm feeling right now. I'm hoping we'll see improvement after adding CLO, ghee, xylitol, and the MI paste the dentist gave us (and possibly ozone treatments) but if not, we may try bone broths, etc. I guess we'll cross that bridge if we get there! This has all been a good wake up call that I need to put more effort into our diet--and get more serious about cutting out sugar and processed foods. 

post #15 of 15

We're really pescatarian rather than vegetarian (eat fish).  We briefly tried the whole traditional diet thing(got into it when kids were in Waldorf) but it just left me feeling icky and the child who was a preschooler eating that way (the older two were vegetarian for the most part) had an equal number of cavities to the vegetarian middle child (the oldest is blessed with great teeth -no issues at all).  I think if you are having fish and/or milk products, adequate calcium for teeth is easy, vegans may need to do some extra work.  One thing we did watch for (at recommendation of dentist) was fruit consumption and making sure to at least rinse the mouth (if not floss) after fruit eating.  Some nuts are hard on the teeth, too.  After a horror of caps and dental work, my youngest has been cavity free two years, and I think it's due to vigilance with the fruit issue.  He's a very heavy fruit and nut eater and rinsing or eating hard cheese following fruit has helped.  Another thing to watch for is any sort of sweetened peanut/nut/seed butter.  I usually go all natural for peanut butter, but it's not allowed for school so we've been using Sunbutter, which has natural unrefined cane sugar, but it's still sugar.  We've been encouraging rinsing and packing cheese and milk to go with meals.

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