Health beliefs and behaviours of individuals on a vegan diet in relation to oral health

Christopher Howlett, Helen Tane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The vegan abstains from eating all animal products; meat, dairy, eggs, and avoids other products of animal origin, both dietary and non-dietary. The numbers of individuals following a vegan diet are increasing, and due to the elimination of some foods, many vegans have an increased intake of fruits, sugars, and fermentable carbohydrates in their diet. Current literature suggests that an increased risk of tooth erosion, white spot lesions, and tooth decay exists for vegans.
Objective: To investigate whether or not vegans living in Australia have beliefs or behaviours that impact on their oral health, and the prevalence of these beliefs and behaviours.
Method: A cross sectional study was posted to vegans in Australia through vegan social media groups and invited participants to complete an online questionnaire. Information gathered participant’s individual demographics, oral health beliefs and behaviours, such as fluoride beliefs, toothpaste and other dental product usage.
Results: 503 Australian vegans completed the questionnaire, and a common trend of fluoride avoidance was found. 49% of vegans did not use fluoridated toothpaste, 51% use specifically branded vegan toothpaste, 19% believe fluoride was bad for their teeth, and 28% said that their concerns about fluoride outweighed any perceived benefits. Additionally, a significant number reported that they did not supplement known vitamins lacking in their diet, 75% did not supplement Vitamin D, 34% did not supplement vitamin B12, and 88% of vegans said they would not use a product recommended by their dental professional (such as CPP-ACP) if it had a dairy protein in it.
Conclusion: While Australian vegans are a diverse population, it was found that a significant percentage of vegans who participated in this study hold beliefs and oral health behaviours that would negatively impact on their oral health, a situation that may be exacerbated by the vegan diet itself. A recommendation from this study is that health professionals need to be aware of the risks facing vegan patients, their specific oral health needs and provide a level of patient-centred care that is tailored for the vegan patient.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-17
Number of pages7
JournalThe Australian and New Zealand Journal of Dental and Oral Health Therapy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016


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