New Study: Vegetarians Have More Tooth Decay

by Sarah Healthy LivingComments: 85

A study published this week in the peer reviewed medical journal, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, finds that vegetarians are much more likely to suffer from tooth decay, lower (more acidic) salivary pH levels, and lower stimulated saliva flow than control subjects that were matched by sex and age.

The study confirms what Dr. Weston A. Price DDS in his book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, discovered on his 10 year journey around the world studying isolated, traditional societies still untouched by what he termed “the displacing foods of modern commerce.”

Dr. Price found that indigenous vegetarian cultures suffered from tooth decay at a higher rate than either the omnivore or the almost completely carnivorous cultures he studied.

The published study concluded that eating a vegetarian diet does not in any way impart a dental health advantage over non-vegetarians.

Tooth decay is an indication of lowered immune function and a higher susceptibility to degenerative disease in general.  Ever heard of the term “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”?  This refers to the well known historical practice of examining a horse’s teeth and gums to assess overall health elsewhere in the body.  People can similarly assess their level of general health and whether it is improving or declining by observing the health of their teeth and gums.

Rami Nagel, author of the book Cure Tooth Decay, states that the dentinal-fluid transport mechanism is how the body controls the rate of tooth decay including whether or not it occurs at all.  When tooth decay is present, Mr. Nagel says this is a sign that blood sugar levels are askew and that certain critical nutrients such as the fat soluble activators A, D, and K2 are lacking in the diet.

Vegetarian diets are typically much higher in grains and sugars (from fruit) than non-vegetarians, and when the body senses too much sugar at one time, this can initiate demineralization of the teeth.  Ever noticed how your teeth can get a bit sensitive for a period of time after a very sugary dessert or a day that included too many grain based foods and treats?

If you are vegetarian and have noted a problem with dental decay, incorporating grassfed meats, raw grassfed dairy, wild seafood, and high vitamin cod liver oil into your diet will introduce the critical nutrients that are necessary to reverse this condition and prevent further problems.  Moreover, whenever sweet foods such as fruit are consumed, they should always be eaten in the presence of a healthy fat like cream to maintain stable blood sugar and not disrupt the body’s ability to transport minerals.

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

Source:  The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 27 Dec 2011, 712-738

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Comments (85)

  • Polina Malikin

    While I appreciate the desire to share your thoughts about optimal nutrition for dental health, you are not fully quoting the article and the study and therefore it is somewhat misleading. The study states that “there is little evidence that vegetarians have better dental health than do nonvegetarians”. The article is really focused on whether a vegetarian diet could provide any advantages for dental health, and the studies point to the answer being “no”; the article does not, however, prove the opposite either – that vegetarian diets are harmful or incrediby cariogenic. So, really, it seems totally inconclusive. That’s not to say that vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore diet don’t have their advantages or disadvantages… it’s just that this article does not seem to confirm this one way or another.

    April 22nd, 2014 12:11 pm Reply
  • sarah

    sarah look in the mirror. you don’t look very healthy. it could be diet related, you know

    November 13th, 2013 5:58 am Reply
  • mikey

    funny comments, nutritional deficiencies occur in everyone including vegetarians, vegans raw foodists etc .
    why because they don’t eat a well balanced diet in order for enamel to form it requires low phytate acidity(not eating too many grains and beans as most vegetarians/vegans do), vit a (lots of brightly colored veges and fruits red, orange etc) and d(sunshine) and good absorbtion .

    Thus doesn’t mean all vegans vegetarians will be deficient but only some will depending on what they eat how much the cleanse for absorbtion etc

    Thus the only thing one is required to do is include those foods and cleanse

    August 7th, 2013 10:00 pm Reply
  • Debbie

    I clicked on the link to view the article. It was actually originally published in 1988, so it is not a new study at all. Nothing in the article claimed that vegetarians are at a disadvantage when it comes to dental health–they concluded from the study that there were no significant differences. I’m puzzled why you used this article to conclude that eating animal products is superior for dental health.

    July 18th, 2013 6:55 pm Reply
  • connie

    If you have switched to a more traditional diet based on Dr. Price’s research and still have not seen results, add fermented food into your diet and incorporate oil pulling to grow beneficial bacteria and rid of bad bacteria.


    May 19th, 2013 1:07 pm Reply
  • Paulo

    I am looking for those who developed serious cavities and were able to revert them!

    Anyone here?

    I am already trying the codfish liver, butter, seafood, fish, milk, kale, vitamin A, D; K, calcium and phosphorus but so far no result yet. The teeth have not healed a bit. I am also mostly away from grains and processed sugar. Have been almost 1 month on it. I have been fish-vegetarian for the past year.

    Any suggestion?

    November 4th, 2012 1:42 pm Reply
  • Paulo

    In 2004 I became a vegetarian. My general health improved and also my blood sugars. In 2006 I became a near-vegan (I still ate ocasional eggs and milk). In 2007 I develop several tooh cavities, and then of course I stop being a vegan and returned to milk. I lost one tooth. In 2011, I started eating fish again, but now I still have one serious cavity. I am now trying to revert it by more fish and eggs, codfish liver oil and spirulina but it is still not working.

    My conclusion: vegetarians are generally much healthier for a lot of conditions, but not for dental health. And even omnivorous do not ingest the enough amount of calcium and vitamin K and D.

    November 4th, 2012 1:30 pm Reply
  • Bri

    Girls, boys, countrymen, let’s not get too hyped up with this “vegans get more cavities” article. I worked for the Agri dept, you know, the Monsanto friends, and if there’s anything I’ve learned is that any science study can be proven with the right number of scientists. Obviously the cattlemen want you to have “What’s for dinner.” let me assure you that we’re all naturally plant eaters and thus, would do very well not contributing to the dentists and doctors of our fair land. I love how this grass roots movement is taking over. We vegans have found the fountain of youth and there is no stopping us. I’ve been vegan for a month and an oil puller and I have to say with all my strength, I’ve never felt better except when I was young, in the army. Now at my age of 60 years young, I’m cookin’ once again. I can hit my golf ball 260 yards with my driver, fairly accuracy. No, very accurately. I’m a Titan.

    November 3rd, 2012 11:25 pm Reply
    • Auggiedoggy

      Wow! A whole month? Problems take a lot longer than that to show up .Btw, humans are not natural plant eaters but that’s a topic for another day. How’s your vegan diet now?

      September 1st, 2014 1:38 pm Reply
  • Acacia

    Correction. I have been vegetarian for 16 years and moved back to the US 14 years ago.

    August 9th, 2012 11:53 am Reply
  • Acacia

    I was an omnivore until 14 years ago when I decided to become completely vegetarian. My kids were raised mostly vegetarian and now at 27 and 24 years old, my daughter has had no cavities. My boy had one when he was very young and at the time, an omnivore. Recently his dentist said that he had a cavity on each one of his 4 wisdom teeth, that he then had filled, but I didn’t see these cavities and he didn’t feel them, so I just wonder if they were really there. Anyway, between the 2, my son eats more of a vegan diet than my daughter, a lacto-ovo vegetarian, like me.

    I read the Weston Price study. It didn’t say that whole grains were bad. It said that refined grains are detrimental to teeth and lead to decay. Price stressed the importance of whole grains and whole foods. He didn’t talk against a vegetarian diet. He regretted not having been able to find a vegetarian culture to study its effects on teeth.

    You need to separate Weston Price from the foundation named after him which takes liberties in interpreting Price’s findings. I have been studying this issue and I think that a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet is just as successful as an omnivore diet in preventing tooth decay. However, I am not as certain about the vegan diet.

    August 9th, 2012 11:27 am Reply
  • Charlie

    The problem with this article is that it asserts that one’s tooth decay can signal their general level of health, then explains more precisely what it symbolizes– too high blood sugar: far from “general health.”

    Since there are no vitamins in meat that cannot be found in plants (except B12), the answer is nothing more than the trend of vegetarians eating more sugar and grains than meat-eaters. We know that neither vegetarianism nor veganism demand these things; it’s a trend of vegetarianism and vegans.

    Therefore, more tooth decay, and therefore– according to the suspicious underlying argument of this article– vegetarians have worse general health, and vegetarianism is less healthy.

    The takeaway to this article should have been that we all need to concern ourselves with our intake sugar and grains if we’re concerned with our dental health (and vegetarians in particular), but for some reason unknown to me, the author took this as a opportunity to discredit a diet for which there is increasing evidence could prevent a score of health problems.

    Read about the ADA’s stance on vegetarianism here:

    August 6th, 2012 4:21 pm Reply
  • Hudec Dental (@HudecDental)

    Vegetarians need to pay closer attention to their oral health

    January 18th, 2012 9:59 am Reply
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  • watchmom3

    I think it is always important to just read the data, and draw your OWN conclusions on any subject. We are ALL tied to OUR own experiences; we learn differently; we grow in knowledge at different rates and we come to conclusions when ALL of the differences come together to help us understand the world around us. I really enjoy this blog, because there is always at least one person who makes a comment that just “connects a dot” for me! As long as the author of the comment is polite and only asks consideration of their ideas, I have no problem with it. As a society, we must allow ideas and information to FLOW! Thanks Sarah, for allowing that on your blog! Just an aside: while we were at the WESTON PRICE CONFERENCE in Dallas, one of the speakers, (a lifelong scientist) noted that another speaker made a statement that was the last piece of the puzzle for something that she had been studying for YEARS! She was so appreciative! That just thrilled me so much, to see that EVERYONE is trying to figure things out and sometimes we help each other without even knowing it! Keep it coming Sarah! I love it when you make us THINK!!!!!

    January 2nd, 2012 10:09 pm Reply
  • Nikki (@sputnikSweethrt)

    Another point against vegetarianism!

    January 2nd, 2012 5:52 pm Reply
  • TheDentalEssentials (@Cavity_Free)

    Interesting article here, matches many of our blog articles, too.

    January 2nd, 2012 2:19 pm Reply
  • RebeccaRovayHazelton (@rebecca4fitness)

    This article is a good example that it is important to determine the right diet for one’s biochemistry in order to…

    January 1st, 2012 6:57 pm Reply
  • grass fed girl (@grassfedgirlsf)

    New Study: Vegetarians Have More Tooth Decay – The Healthy Home Economist

    January 1st, 2012 4:31 pm Reply
  • Roxanne Bell (@RoxanneBDesigns) (@RoxanneBDesigns)

    New Study: Vegetarians Have More Tooth Decay

    December 31st, 2011 7:48 pm Reply
  • Stanley Fishman

    The peoples studied by Dr Price over ten years had perfect teeth and no decay. if they ate the diet of their ancestors. None of these diets were vegan, or vegetarian. Some were very meat heavy. In fact, one group ate nothing but wild game.

    None of these groups ate refined modern foods, or sugar. Wnen ,members of these groups moved to more modern areas, and ate processed food and sugar, their teeth rotted away.

    December 31st, 2011 2:42 am Reply
  • tina

    My kids don’t eat a lot of grains and those they do eat are (mostly) soaked and/or sprouted. They do get raw milk, grass-fed butter, milk kefir, raw egg yolks, lots a grass-fed beef, and bone broths. They don’t brush often or well.

    Sarah – I thought you filtered out the crazies (ie Raquel and a couple others.)

    December 31st, 2011 12:23 am Reply
  • Raquel

    Quit worrying about your diets and use the everything in moderation system for a change ya freaks. Your future is predetermined for you before you are born so just deal with it best you can instead of spending too much time trying to figure out something that is waaaay beyond anyone presently alive. So you are a vegetarian with great teeth??? boo hoo obviously if you ate sugar all day and didn’t brush that would change so don’t do it!!!!!!! Any diet that is specific in any way is good in some ways and lacks in others so use common sense and stick to eating everything as the once mobile human did daaaaah. too many cheese burgers=health problems, too many “healthy” foods=other health problems. If things were that simple someone woulda figured it out by now instead of these having these stupid debates that are forever ongoing …….bahaha go get some bk (but don’t do it everyday) daaaaaah

    December 30th, 2011 10:30 pm Reply
    • Raquel

      My husband just told me that he commented using my name! The above response. I dont know how to erase it???

      December 31st, 2011 10:23 am Reply
  • Dana

    My pet hypothesis about this stuff is that K2 is the most important element missing here, that and possibly some minerals. In the latter case, fiber consumption in excess of fat consumption, especially saturated fat consumption, reduces absorption of minerals. This is particularly true (as in, documented in research) of calcium. Here’s a study:

    As for K2, it is known to contribute to osteocalcin production. Osteocalcin is like a concrete matrix in your bones and teeth; it makes your bones strong and is a major component of dentin. You could lose all the enamel on your teeth tomorrow and they still would not rot as long as the dentin was healthy, or at the least they would take a LOT longer to decay. Enamel helps, but it is not the be-all, end-all.

    Also, FYI, osteocalcin is metabolically active. It stimulates your fat cells to produce a substance called adiponectin, which in turn stimulates greater insulin sensitivity all over your body. Obesity is usually a disease of insulin resistance, the opposite of insulin sensitivity–and type 2 diabetes always is.

    So now you know why tooth decay’s so strongly correlated with diabetes. It also explains why tooth decay correlates with heart disease, since type 2 diabetes and heart disease are pretty much two sides of the same coin.

    I pretty much consider all the fat-soluble vitamins miracle substances at this point. The more I learn, the more amazed I am.

    December 30th, 2011 7:12 pm Reply
  • Julie

    Sarah… this makes me so sad. You have such a WONDERFUL website and such great information to share. But this study does not say that vegetarians have more tooth decay. The entire study (all 27 pages of it) are about the health benefits of vegetarianism! Why not just stick with the Dr. Price information that does agree with the point you are trying to make? The study says, “In summary, vegetarian diets do not provide any distinct dental advantage over nonvegetarian diets.” That’s not even CLOSE to “Vegetarians have more tooth decay.”

    So disappointed.

    December 30th, 2011 7:08 pm Reply
    • Erin

      Well said and respectfully. I read the study.

      October 15th, 2012 7:21 pm Reply
    • Jane Smith


      January 12th, 2013 9:41 am Reply
  • Trixie

    This is interesting but hardly a reason for vegetarians to eat meat. There have been countless studies proving that Vegetarians on average live longer than their meat eating friends so whilst this is interesting to read it’s more spin than substance.

    December 30th, 2011 6:37 pm Reply
    • Dana

      Did you read those studies yourself or did someone tell you about them?

      I ask because, for example, vegans in particular love citing T. Colin Campbell and his China Study, but the man did not read his own data. Know which food was most strongly correlated with early mortality in the Chinese groups he studied? Wheat. Not meat.

      In fact, animal protein had a much lower correlation with several types of mortality than plant protein did. Fish performed even better.

      Go figure, huh?

      December 30th, 2011 7:07 pm Reply
  • Linda Hafenbredl via Facebook

    I ate meat for most of my life and had numerous cavities. Do not plan to go that route again. There are certainly other ways to stay free of cavities!

    December 30th, 2011 3:57 pm Reply
  • Linda Hafenbredl via Facebook

    I ate meat for most of my life and had numerous cavities. Do not plan to go that route again. There are certainly other ways to stay free of cavities!

    December 30th, 2011 3:57 pm Reply
  • Ranjani

    As a former vegetarian, I can testify that I did not have any(!) tooth decay but that was also because I hardly ate any sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, etc. and consumed very little gluten. I know tons of “meat-eaters” who have constant trouble with tooth decay and cavities because they load up on potatoes, bread and cereal – in fact, they have an emotional connection to these foods because their mother or grandmothers used to prepare them often . Their notion of healthy is eating a lot of white meat chicken, whole grains and hardly any fats, organ meats, seafood or red meat. One crucial mistake a lot of vegetarians make other than ignoring their protein and fat intake is that they load up on grains instead of veggies.

    December 30th, 2011 3:43 pm Reply
  • Evie Andrews via Facebook

    It also has to do with your teeth. I have twins they are only 7 and I recently took them to the dentist. The one with no caries and in need of only preventative treatment was the one who had a poorer diet (I literally have to force feed her veges) and doesn’t brush her teeth well (although she tells me she does) the other one has horrible enamel so it has made her more prone to cavities even though she brushes religiously and who eats a well rounded diet and doesn’t refuse anything.

    December 30th, 2011 3:29 pm Reply
  • Derek Friedman, D.C. (@DrDerek1015)

    Eat Meat, save your teeth (and health!) New Study: Vegetarians Have More Tooth Decay

    December 30th, 2011 3:06 pm Reply
  • Bert Grosman via Facebook

    Personally I know of several vegans who all have terrible teeth. I too suffered from gum disease at 29 despite eating what I thought was a very healthy vegetarian diet while brushing and flossing religiously. Looking back on it I mostly blame the soy products I was eating which is really bad for mineral absorption, etc. My gum disease is mostly in remission now and overall feel 110 % better since I’ve embraced the Weston A. Price philosophy on eating. I’ll never go back to being a strict veggie.

    December 30th, 2011 1:36 pm Reply
    • Kieran

      As a vegan, I have discovered such a wide variety of foods to improve my all round nutrition that I feel surprised that anyone should depend on soy products to support their vegan diet. I mean you follow a faulty diet with poor nutrition and lack of variety and then blame veganism or vegetarianism. Its the easiest lame excuse to go back on meat.

      I think it should be emphasized that vegan/vegetarianism includes lots of seasonal fruit, fresh vegetables, salad greens, some nuts, seeds, and occasionally some soaked/sprouted and fermented grains and legumes.

      I don’t think there should be ANY tooth or bone deterioration when you follow a proper vegan diet

      June 15th, 2013 4:23 pm Reply
  • thehealthyhomeeconomist via Facebook

    @Laura that is partially correct. Vegetarians do tend to eat more sugar (fruit and grains) than nonvegetarians but also have a harder time getting adequate Vitamin A, D, and K which contributes greatly to tooth decay. This is not just one study but corroborates anthropological evidence as researched by Dr. Price.

    December 30th, 2011 1:28 pm Reply
  • Laura Martelossi via Facebook

    I think that is part of mainstream-manipulation. who’s been vegetarian or vegan for a while see lots of these studies come around, we know they aren’t true. tooth decay is caused by sugar, no matter if u eat or don’t eat animal products. I can prove that green stockings prevent cancer, with a properly set up study.

    December 30th, 2011 1:24 pm Reply
  • Amanda Colo via Facebook

    I’ve been a vegetarian for 20 years and have never even had a cavity.

    December 30th, 2011 1:20 pm Reply
  • Jennifer

    We knew it all along! Now I have to convince my big wig colleagues at whole foods what we are missing! Wish me luck!

    December 30th, 2011 11:49 am Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      YOU GO JENNIFER!!!!!!!!!! All the best intentions go with you from the readers of this blog! Fight the good fight for all of us!

      December 30th, 2011 11:51 am Reply
    • Ashleyroz

      Whole foods will never change because there’s no money for grocery stores in a Real food economy. Whole foods makes the bulk of their profit on organic junk food made from soy, wheat, and corn just like the rest of he grocery stores do. They just slap a “certification”
      On it and call it healthy. There’s a reason the impulse sections at the register are filled with candy and chips. They wouldn’t make a profit off of grassfed beef steaks over there.

      December 31st, 2011 3:00 pm Reply
  • Shari B

    I won’t try to dispute the study. However, I have been a vegetarian for many years and before that, I did not consume a whole lot of animal protein. I have NO CAVITIES and NO FILLINGS! I’m in my 40’s and my dentist says I have the teeth of a teenager!

    Once again, I wonder why those who are NOT vegetarians feel the need to malign those who are. Granted…..there are also plenty of vegans and vegetarians that have plenty of studies “proving” (please note the reason for the quotation marks) how meat eating detrimentally affects one’s health. I had this discussion with others before. There needs to be less food “elitism” and maligning and more discussion on how find the best choices for each of our diet preferences. For instance, eating meat from very ill animals from the CAFO industry will ulitmately make us sicker in the long run than a vegetarian diet.

    By the way….how many of you out there are filling and cavity free? This vegetarian is!

    December 30th, 2011 12:47 pm Reply
    • Dana

      Eating a vegan diet would kill you in six months to a year if you took no supplements.

      Ovo-lacto is somewhat better but still not ideal, unless you consume LOTS of eggs and dairy.

      And you can only eat ovo-lacto in the first place if someone else is eating your meat for you. On this count, at least, the vegans are correct about inherent hypocrisy in the ovo-lacto philosophy. You’re really *not* saving any animals, sorry. Animal reproduction is *required* in order for milk in particular to be produced, and what in the world would we do with all those extra cattle and goats and so on? We’d be overrun with them. So someone’s got to eat them.

      I should probably point out here, too, that while vegans and vegetarians routinely refer to omnivores as unhealthy animal-murderers, the reverse is generally not true. Although I have taken lately to pointing out that even if you never touch animal products again, your eating habits still require the killing of animals, since pesticides are used in the growing of crops, and plowing fields always kills some rodents and other vertebrates.

      YOU are the ones, though, who made this a moral issue. Don’t be surprised when some of us start fighting back. No one likes being called undeserved names. It is no more murder when I eat a hamburger than it is when a lion downs a zebra. And “being more intelligent” or “being more moral” is no excuse. It’s stupid and immoral and hypocritical to complain about cows eating Fritos in dairy barns because that’s “not species-appropriate” and then to expect a hunting ape to eat like a rabbit.

      (Insert usual disclaimer about understanding that some people don’t believe in evolution–nevertheless.)

      December 30th, 2011 7:04 pm Reply
      • Shari B

        Wow…’re making some really crazy assumptions about me!!!! I said I was vegetarian, NOT vegan. I made zero claims about why I have chosen a vegetarian diet. You simply confirmed my belief that many in the food “elitism” are too busy promoting their own way that they’re incapable of really listening to what others are saying.

        January 2nd, 2012 12:53 am Reply
      • Lydia Eldridge

        “Eating a vegan diet would kill you in six months to a year if you took no supplements.”

        This is such bs. I’ve been a vegan for two years and haven’t taken supplements, and I haven’t died and am actually very healthy.

        November 9th, 2012 2:51 pm Reply
  • sadhu vedant muni jain

    i can not oppose the opinions of the author but the true is that human teeth for vegetarianism. our nature are for vegetarianism, decay of teeth depend on oral hygiene, such reports will promote the non- vegs will be more harmful for the health.

    December 30th, 2011 12:28 pm Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Oral hygiene can help slow down the decay of the teeth but since the rotting is primarily from nutritional deficiency, ultimately even teeth that are meticulously cleaned will rot if the diet is insufficient in the fat soluble activators which supercharge mineral absorption to the teeth.

      December 30th, 2011 3:18 pm Reply
    • Dana

      No, our nature is omnivorous, sorry, with a heavier emphasis on meat-eating than most modern people want to admit. The human brain is too large for its energy needs to be supported on an all-plants diet with the length of the human colon being what it is. (The colon is the only part of the intestine that even deals with plant foods!)

      A healthy human with a properly working GI tract is a very efficient digester of animal protein, which is why human diabetics must inject insulin rather than take it orally; insulin is a peptide hormone, peptides being segments of protein molecules. Also, we have several hormones that raise blood sugar, but only one that lowers it. As toxic as glucose is in the human body in excessive amounts, you would think we’d have several hormones for the purpose of lowering blood sugar if we were meant to consume that much sugar-forming food.

      I’m trying to get at the science here rather than the ideology. Last I knew, India has one of the highest rates of heart disease in the world. High vegetarian population. But I’m sure that’s a coincidence.

      December 30th, 2011 6:58 pm Reply
      • Jez

        India has a high rate of heart disease because Indians have an enormous junk (“street”) food and sweet culture.

        Just because some vegetarians aren’t careful about what they eat, doesn’t mean that it’s not possible to be vegetarian and eat healthily. And there are plenty of non-vegetarians who eat a totally crappy diet. None of the 36 countries which rank higher than India in heart disease incidence are known for having a large number of vegetarians:

        My point being: whether or not you are vegetarian is more or less independent of whether or not you eat a healthy diet.

        January 31st, 2013 8:02 pm Reply
    • Tiffany

      @sadhu vedant muni jain — decay of teeth does NOT depend on oral hygiene. Dr. Price found that in certain cultures in Switzerland people did not brush their teeth at all. They had very, very little incidence of tooth decay (like 4/100, if I remember correctly) and their teeth were covered in “green slime”. …and yet, they had such low rates of tooth decay! They ate very well, however. They consumed lots of raw dairy and cheese! If you consume a very nutrient dense diet, you will find that your enamel will not only harden, but also repair enamel that has already been damaged!

      December 31st, 2011 1:52 pm Reply
  • Joel


    I am a big fan of your blog and of the Weston A. Price foundation. I like, as much as the next guy, any chance to show that a vegetarian or vegan diet is lacking. However, I suggest you change the title of this post. It is misleading. Your post even states:

    “The published study concluded that eating a vegetarian diet does not in any way impart a dental health advantage over non-vegetarians.

    That vegetarians have more tooth decay (than whom, by the way?), as claimed in the title, is proven neither in your post or the cited study.

    December 30th, 2011 12:22 pm Reply
    • Andrea (@FrSeed2Stomach)

      agreed! sweeping generalizations aren’t healthy for anyone!

      December 30th, 2011 12:26 pm Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      I’m not following your point, Joel. The title implies that nonvegetarians have less tooth decay. This seems obvious to me. The study found that vegetarians have more tooth decay and more acidic saliva as stated in the first line of the post.

      December 30th, 2011 12:33 pm Reply
      • Joel

        Vegans are also non-vegetarians. Do they have less tooth decay than vegetarians? I did read the part about more acidic saliva, but as the study states, when coupled with good dental hygiene, this is not a threat to dental health. Do all vegetarians have acidic saliva coupled with poor dental hygiene? In the link you cite in the post, the conclusion of the study was that, “vegetarian diets do not provide any distinct dental advantage over nonvegetarian diets.”

        My point, as Andrea picked up, was that you are making a generalization that is not helpful. If it were true that vegetarian diets promoted more tooth decay than all non-vegetarian diets, then I would be ok with the title of your post.

        December 30th, 2011 12:49 pm Reply
        • Dana

          Um, vegans are vegetarians. They just happen to be stricter than ovo-lactos.

          Please don’t tell me you call fish-eaters “vegetarians” too.

          December 30th, 2011 6:54 pm Reply
      • Audrey

        I read the journal article and I’m afraid I have to agree with Joel.

        Specifically the paragraph about dental health opens with, “There is little evidence that vegetarians have better dental health than do nonvegetarians.” You can’t just turn that around and say that there is then evidence that nonvegetarians have better teeth.

        The only thing that the article says is that in ONE STUDY the researchers found that lactovegetarians were much more likely to have dental erosions, lower saliva pH and lower saliva flow.

        I like your posts, but be careful to not read more into what was written than is really there. You turned OINE study that found something about lactovegetarians into all vegetarians. But that’s not even the study you referenced. The authors of the study you’re basing this article (per the reference you list) on deemed dental health differences between vegetarians and nonvegetarians as a whole inconclusive.

        December 30th, 2011 12:50 pm Reply
        • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

          This is not just one study Audrey. You are completely discounting the work of Dr. Price which provides historical evidence of the same thing.

          December 30th, 2011 1:08 pm Reply
          • Joel

            I don’t disagree with you here, but you shouldn’t claim that the “new study” proves this.

            December 30th, 2011 1:19 pm
          • Audrey

            I am not discounting Dr Price at all. I’m saying what you wrote as you wrote it doesn’t agree with the study you’re referencing.

            You state: “A study published this week in the peer reviewed medical journal, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, finds that vegetarians are much more likely to suffer from tooth decay, lower (more acidic) salivary pH levels, and lower stimulated saliva flow than control subjects that were matched by sex and age.”

            But that is not what that study (the one you gave a link to) found.

            I am a big fan of Dr. Price’s work.

            December 30th, 2011 1:28 pm
        • Jane Smith

          The study which you say was published “this week” is in a journal from 1988. It says in the abstract that the “data are only fair to poor that … dental carries are lower in vegetarians.” Read the study and it says that some veg diets high in fruit juice may be a problem with inadequate hygiene.

          Not new, not news.

          January 12th, 2013 9:39 am Reply
  • Andrea (@FrSeed2Stomach)

    I haven’t eaten meat in 3 and a half years (although I still eat fresh fish a couple times a month, so I’m not a pure vegetarian) and my dental check-ups have never been better! I actually had a routine cleaning/exam this morning and the dentist said my teeth looked perfect (I used to get cavities pretty often when I ate meat). I stick to mostly fresh, local, organic produce and lots of nutritious beans and avoid refined carbs and unfermented soy products. For grains, I mostly eat rice, quinoa (a seed), millet, teff, and corn. I use sprouted grain flour when I bake and soak/sprout grains whenever possible and eat very little sugar (using raw local honey, maple syrup, and dates to sweeten things occasionally). I eat grass-fed cheese and yogurt and consume most of my fruit with oatmeal or in smoothies with flax and/or chia seeds and/or yogurt and/or nuts (through a straw!). During my routine physicals, my doctor always comments on how wonderful my bloodwork is (especially compared to 4 years ago!), and I take the right mix of supplements (a whole food multi, B12, D, and clinical grade liquid Omega 3s). I’ve never felt better!

    December 30th, 2011 12:22 pm Reply
    • Dana

      You’ve dropped refined carbs, it looks like you are avoiding wheat and you are getting enough eggs and dairy (grass-fed, no less) that it helps make up for the lack of meat.

      Now try keeping healthy teeth as a vegan.

      December 30th, 2011 6:53 pm Reply
      • Lydia Eldridge

        i haven’ had any cavities develop since becoming vegan.

        November 9th, 2012 2:44 pm Reply
  • Raine Saunders (@AgriSociety) (@AgriSociety)

    Here’s a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showing how vegetarian diets can…

    December 30th, 2011 12:20 pm Reply
  • Michelle Milich (@earthlybalance)

    Another reason not to be a vegetarian..
    A study published this week in the peer reviewed medical journal, The…

    December 30th, 2011 11:55 am Reply
  • Kelli

    True, whenever I start consuming sweets again I can feel my teeth hurting. Few people would relate this to diet and would probably think they have cavities without ever wondering what caused the cavities.

    December 30th, 2011 11:54 am Reply
  • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

    I find studies like this one that actually confirm actual anthropological evidence such as what Dr. Price found on his travels to be most compelling. When science verifies what traditional societies practiced it is to be ignored at one’s own peril.

    December 30th, 2011 11:48 am Reply
  • Lisa Huntoon

    Great article! I’m starting to wonder if tooth decay and mouth health is directly related to the microbes in our gut? If we have gut dysbosis, aren’t those same microbes also reflected in our mouth? Just my theory. . .I have no real science on this point.

    December 30th, 2011 11:30 am Reply
    • tina

      I think you’re absolutely right.

      December 30th, 2011 11:51 am Reply
  • Rachel

    Very true. After indulging in less healthy foods over the holidays, including more bread than normal and sweets/chocolates, I can feel 2 sensitive spots in my mouth that were not there 2 weeks ago. I need to throw the leftovers of all that junk out!

    December 30th, 2011 11:30 am Reply
  • Emily

    One reason, besides Price’s assertion that animal products provide nutrients necessary for healthy teeth and bones, is that vegetarians eat a lot of grains and fruit, therefore have more sugar in their system.

    December 30th, 2011 11:28 am Reply
    • Andrea (@FrSeed2Stomach)

      Not all vegetarians eat more grains and fruit than meat-eaters. I for one, don’t :-) I’d be curious to read the study to see what kind of vegetarian diet (there are so many kinds of vegetarians, you know!), the people in the study ate.

      December 30th, 2011 12:25 pm Reply
      • Shari B

        I agree! This vegetarian has no filling and no cavities….and I’m in my 40’s! Not all vegetarians are the same….good point!

        December 30th, 2011 12:49 pm Reply
        • Dana

          Are you ovo-lacto? That alone could explain it, if you’re eating a fair amount of eggs and cheese. I find it telling that cheese is the number one vegan cheat food: it contains vitamins A, B12, and K2 analog mk-4, all of which are lacking in the vegan diet.

          (You can get K2 analog mk-7 from natto, but that analog does not cross the human placenta in a pregnancy, which would indicate to me that adults don’t have much use for it either, compared to mk-4. And we have even less use for K1, if the Rotterdam Study is to be believed.)

          December 30th, 2011 6:51 pm Reply
          • Joe the Vegan

            I follow a high raw vegan diet and I do not have dental problems of any kind. I just had my last checkup and two months ago. In fact, my dental health has vastly improved since I became vegan.

            January 23rd, 2014 2:48 pm
  • L.S. (@LSVentures)

    A new study reveals vegetarians are more likely to suffer from tooth decay. Has eating Paleo improved your…

    December 30th, 2011 11:27 am Reply
  • PattyLA

    Good article except for one point. The reason you check a horses teeth is to check it’s age, not for a general health assessment.

    December 30th, 2011 11:25 am Reply
  • The Bionic Broad

    I can hear vegetarians out there, screaming in outrage. Great article.

    December 30th, 2011 11:11 am Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      I love the name of your blog, by the way!

      December 30th, 2011 11:38 am Reply
    • Shari B

      This is ONE vegetarian who’s not screaming at all! I’m in my 40’s and have zero fillings and zero cavities! Can YOU make that claim? Or are you screaming, in pain with your own cavities?

      January 2nd, 2012 12:55 am Reply
    • Joe the Vegan

      I read the entire study and there was no listed empirical evidence showing that vegetarians had worse teeth. It simply stated that vegetarians eat foods that can cause decay and then stated that children on a macrobiotic vegetarian diet showed no difference as compared to omnivores.

      I question if Sarah even read the study. Also, it was published in 1988, so it is nothing new!

      January 23rd, 2014 2:44 pm Reply

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