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Is being vegetarian bad for your teeth?

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According to new evidence put forward by dental experts, diets that include meat and dairy products could be better for naturally healthy teeth – meaning that strict vegetarian or vegan diets could be damaging to dental health. A common amino acid that occurs in certain food products has been shown to break down plaque effectively, helping to fight against problems like decay and gum disease.

Researchers at the University of Michigan and Newcastle University found that L-arginine stops the formation of dental plaque and it is primarily found in meat, fish, and dairy products, and it has already been added to some dental products to help with sensitive teeth.

Alexander Rickard, Assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan called this discovery ‘important’ and explained that it could save billions of dollars in dental treatment every year in the US. Dr Nick Jakubovics, of Newcastle University, says that the amino acid is only effective in very high quantities; he explains that ‘there is no evidence yet that lower concentrations found in foods such as red meats would have benefits for removal of dental plaque.’

Their findings are reported in the current issue of PLOS ONE.

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