Is a Raw Food Diet Bad for My Teeth?

Is a Raw Food Diet Bad for My Teeth?

These days, more and more people are turning to organic foods, vegetarianism and other similar diets to help keep them healthy. One such diet that a number of people have been gravitating towards is the raw food diet. This regimen, as the name implies, consists of all raw foods – all vegetables and fruits, no meat, dairy or processed sugary stuff.

While this particular diet is considered very healthy – with everything eaten raw and unprocessed – it is not without problems. People who have switched to this particular regimen have noticed that in the years following their shift, they seem to suffer from more dental problems than before. Does this mean that a raw food diet is bad for a person’s teeth in comparison with a regular diet?

Those people who have gone on to replace their regular diet with a vegan or raw food one, and who find that they now have more cavities and dental problems than before, claim that the dental hygiene practices they have been using for so long have not changed. They brush their teeth at least twice a day, floss regularly, and visit their dentists at least twice a year. This is why it is indeed a wonder why, despite proper dental hygiene, they see their dental health deteriorating.

Some vegans and practitioners of this particular diet have taken to the Internet to share their views on the issue, and they all seem to point in one general direction. They seem to notice that the more fruit you eat, the more likely you are to suffer from tooth decay due to this diet. It stands to reason that they view fruit as the culprit in this problem since fruits after all have sugars in them, albeit natural sugars, but still sugars just the same.

This does not mean however that you should avoid fruit altogether, if you are planning on trying, or are already on, a raw food diet. What most of those who have been able to maintain good dental hygiene while on this diet tell others is that, you should still eat fruit, but be selective of what types you eat. Try to avoid unripe fruit if you can, and as much as possible, minimize your intake of acidic ones, like citrus fruit.

This advice is pretty much on the mark since acidic fruits do tend to eat into the enamel of teeth more than non-acidic fruits. Grapefruit and lemons are seen to be the worst culprits when it comes to eroding teeth, while oranges are the least acidic of this group. When you ingest these, it is advised that you gargle with water to wash off any acidic residue on your teeth if you cannot brush your teeth immediately after.

Other raw food advocates also suggest that if you depend on citrus for your vitamin C intake, you should try to find alternatives that are less damaging to your teeth. Aside from oranges, you should get your dosage of this vitamin from dark leafy green vegetables, broccoli, peas, papayas and bell peppers. These are all chock-full of vitamin C but won’t damage your teeth as badly as citrus fruits, and those with high sugar content like grapes, apples, and bananas.

In conclusion, it is not the raw food diet per se that is bad for your teeth but some of the food that you eat because of it. When you practice good dental hygiene while avoiding the food that can damage your teeth, you can ensure that you will have healthy teeth that are strong and cavity free. It is also important that you continue visiting your dentist regularly to have it checked for developing cavities and other oral problems.

Dr. Allan Hawryluk
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Dr. Allan Hawryluk

Allan Hawryluk Jr. is a Mississauga-based dentist who has built a reputation for comprehensive dental care. Born and raised in Port Credit, he returned after completing his dental residency in 2003 at the University of Colorado, Denver Health Sciences Center. He feels privileged to serve the community and is committed to maintaining our clinic standards set by his late father - Dr. Allan R. Hawryluk (Sr).