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Eur J Clin Nutr. 2013 Aug;67(8):836-40. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2013.101. Epub 2013 May 29.

Periodontal conditions in vegetarians: a clinical study.

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Department of Conservative Dentistry, Periodontology and Preventive Dentistry, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany.



Investigations about possible correlations between vegetarian diet and periodontal conditions are rare and characterized by small case numbers. The aim of this clinical study was to investigate the influence of a vegetarian diet on periodontal parameters with an appropriate sample size.


A total of 200 patients, 100 vegetarians and 100 non-vegetarians, were included in the study. All patients were examined including a full mouth assessment of the periodontal and dental conditions. In addition, a questionnaire was handed out to ask for patients' oral hygiene habits and level of education. For statistical analysis the Mann-Whitney Test (χ(2) for analysis of the questionnaire) was applied (level of significance: P<0.05).


Well known periodontal risk factors like age, gender and smoking habits were equally distributed within each group (71 females, 29 males, respectively and 10 smokers in each group; mean age: 41.45 years vegetarians versus 41.72 years non-vegetarians). Vegetarians had significantly lower probing pocket depths (P=0.039), bleeding on probing (P=0.001), periodontal screening index (P=0.012), a better hygiene index (P<0.001) and less mobile teeth (P=0.013). Dental examinations revealed significantly less missing teeth (P=0.018) but also more decayed (P=0.001) and eroded (P=0.026) teeth in vegetarians. Furthermore, vegetarians had a higher level of education (P<0.001), but visited dentists significantly less frequent.


Vegetarians revealed better periodontal conditions (less inflammation signs, less periodontal damage and a better dental home care). However, it should be considered that vegetarians are not only avoiding meat in their nutrition but are also characterized by an overall healthier life style.

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