While there are many people who take the view that a vegetarian diet brings with it a range of health benefits, the evidence as to whether it is likewise good for oral health is not clear. In fact, recent research released in 2019 has suggested that a vegetarian diet can actually have a negative impact on the health and wellbeing of teeth and gums, as it affects dental hard tissue which can, in turn, lead to an increased risk of periodontal disease.
How does vegetarianism impact on oral health?
The research suggests that by not eating certain food groups, vegetarians are missing out on some of the nutrients required to ensure the health of teeth and gums.
In particular, a lack of vitamin D and calcium could be why someone consuming a strict vegetarian diet is more at risk of gum disease. This is because a reduced intake of vitamin D and calcium can make teeth softer and therefore more susceptible to decay, which is the primary cause of periodontal disease.
The potential for gum disease can further be exacerbated by deficiencies in vitamin B2 and vitamin B12, which can also result from a diet that does not include food derived from animals.
Eat a balanced diet to avoid the onset of gum disease
The best way that vegetarians — or anyone, for that matter — can ensure that they have good oral health is through eating a balanced diet. Eating a variety of fruit, vegetables, legumes, and grains should ensure that sufficient nutrients are being consumed, while taking multivitamins regularly may also be beneficial. Likewise, vegetarians should also make sure that they get sufficient exposure to sunlight to make up for any reduced intake of vitamin D, and take care to supplement their calcium intake.
For children and young people who are vegetarians but who may not be as experienced at balancing their diet as adults, there may well be a need for parental supervision to ensure that sufficient quantities of calcium and riboflavin, along with vitamins D, B2, and B12, are being consumed regularly.
It is also advisable that vegetarians consult with their dentist or a nutritionist to ensure that their oral health and hygiene is being maintained, and to get advice on how best to ensure that the right sort of nutrients to ensure oral health are being included in their diets.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease is caused by a build-up of plaque on the teeth and along the gum line. The bacteria found in plaque causes inflammation of the gums as the body attempts to counter it, which can lead to them becoming swollen or bleeding. Bad breath, blood on your toothbrush or floss, or a general feeling of soreness or discomfort, are all signs that you may be suffering from gum disease.
The mildest form of gum disease is gingivitis which, if it is spotted early enough, can usually be treated by your dentist. However, if left untreated, gingivitis can develop into periodontitis, a more severe form of gum disease which will likely require surgery to correct.
Periodontitis is the result of a large build-up of hard dental plaque (called tartar or calculus) forming in pockets in the gums that have developed around the teeth. This plaque can cause the jaw bone to shrink and then recede, resulting in tooth loss either through extraction or they’re falling out. If you suffer from periodontitis, dental surgery will be required to try and repair the damage and prevent further losses of teeth and bone.
What is periodontal surgery?
Periodontal surgery (known more colloquially as gum surgery), is the process whereby the tartar which has built up in gum pockets is removed. This will usually be performed by a periodontist under local anaesthetic, with cuts being made in the gum tissue which is then pulled back so that the calculus can be removed. In some cases, a small amount of the gum may also need to be removed in order for it to be reshaped.
Once completed, stitches will need to be inserted, and these will usually be in place for around 7 to 10 days. You may have to take pain killers for a limited period of time, as your gums will likely feel sore and uncomfortable, and you will need to use an antiseptic mouthwash because you won’t be able to brush your teeth immediately after the surgery.
How much does gum surgery cost?
If you have gum surgery in Australia, you will need to bear the costs yourself as the procedure is not covered by Medicare. The periodontal surgery cost you will be required to pay will vary depending on where your surgery is performed and who undertakes it, but on average you can expect it to be in the region of $10,000.
AMT can reduce gum surgery costs
At Australian Medical Travel, we can arrange dental surgery in Bali, Thailand or Malaysia in order to reduce how much gum surgery costs.
We partner with leading international hospitals and periodontists to provide a range of low-cost gum surgery solutions that means you pay significantly less than you would for the same procedure in Australia.
When you opt for one of our dental surgery overseas packages, we take care of everything for you, including arranging appointments and liaising with medical staff, booking flights and accommodation, organising transfers, and much more. If you decide to combine your periodontal surgery with a holiday or break, we will happily arrange this for you as well.
Get in touch with Australian Medical Travel to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation, or to find out more about having gum surgery in Malaysia, Thailand or Bali. You can call us on 1300 787 268 or get in touch online and we will be happy to discuss your specific dental surgery needs.