Please reassure me - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 02-15-2011, 06:11 AM
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I went dairy-free almost a year ago. Recently I had a piece of one of my molars break off. So I KNOW dairy is not the great source of calcium the dairy industry wants us to believe, but now I'm questioning my diet. I drink fortified almond milk, eat fortified bread, and other good sources of calcium like greens and almond butter. I sometimes take a vitamin D supplement although I suppose I should probably be taking it every day, I just forget to. My teeth have been in bad shape for a long time. I haven't had any dental insurance and can't afford to see the dentist. I had two pregnancies where I puked all day for 9 months. And I had a high-sugar diet for way too long (I'm still working on cutting back on sugar!). So I know the molar was probably already in trouble before I went dairy-free. I just need reassurance. I really don't have any intention of going back to dairy. I never handled it well anyway and the few times I've accidentally eaten some the effects are obvious right away. I can only imagine what would happen if I drank a whole milkshake after all this time.
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#2 Old 02-15-2011, 06:18 AM
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I think it natural to question or worry about the decisions we make in life at some point or another. Whatever you decide, just remember that sometimes even when we take the best care of our body, our bodies too have pasts and only so much of the results we see were up to how we took care of ourselves. The rest is up to genetics and in some cases environment, in my opinion. Sorry about your tooth!
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#3 Old 02-15-2011, 06:30 AM
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Sorry about your tooth!


Thanks. It doesn't bother me thankfully. One of my friends was horrified that I wasn't going to see the dentist over this. I figure if it starts to hurt then maybe there's more going on. Until then I'm going to just leave well enough alone. Not having insurance sucks though.
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#4 Old 02-15-2011, 06:34 AM
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Shauna, get calcium supplements - but you need to get the right ones. Considering your history you should take at least 1,500 milligrams of calcium a day. Very important also that the supplements have magnesium too - don't worry about the amount, but magnesium's a trace element, which means we don't need much but a small amount is essential. Your body needs magnesium to absorb the calcium properly. You may want to go to a specialty store like GNC to find something of a high enough quality, but it's worth it. And don't panic - if you take care of yourself your body can most certainly repair at least some of the damage that may have already occurred. Hope that helps!
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#5 Old 02-15-2011, 06:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Shauna_m View Post

I went dairy-free almost a year ago. Recently I had a piece of one of my molars break off. So I KNOW dairy is not the great source of calcium the dairy industry wants us to believe, but now I'm questioning my diet. I drink fortified almond milk, eat fortified bread, and other good sources of calcium like greens and almond butter. I sometimes take a vitamin D supplement although I suppose I should probably be taking it every day, I just forget to. My teeth have been in bad shape for a long time. I haven't had any dental insurance and can't afford to see the dentist. I had two pregnancies where I puked all day for 9 months. And I had a high-sugar diet for way too long (I'm still working on cutting back on sugar!). So I know the molar was probably already in trouble before I went dairy-free. I just need reassurance. I really don't have any intention of going back to dairy. I never handled it well anyway and the few times I've accidentally eaten some the effects are obvious right away. I can only imagine what would happen if I drank a whole milkshake after all this time.

Maybe you should get a blood test Shauna to see exactly what your calcium level is? Might be interesting hey?

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#6 Old 02-15-2011, 06:39 AM
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A broken tooth can become infected, especially if the break was due to a cavity. If that happens you might need a root canal rather than just a filling to repair the tooth. Root canals are not just painful and inconvenient, they are crazy expensive. You should consider this an emergency and get to a dentist right away.
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#7 Old 02-15-2011, 06:39 AM
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Honestly, I think the best course of action is to save your pennies and go to a dentist.

Do you grind your teeth? That might account for the chip. I have great teeth, but I grind at night which has caused ugly chips in my front teeth.

Good luck, but I 100% believe becoming vegan isn't the issue here.

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#8 Old 02-15-2011, 06:43 AM
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Shauna, get a calcium supplement - take 1,500 mg per day minimum. The supplement must have magnesium or your body may not be able to properly absorb the calcium. If you do this, you can still undo a lot of the damage that may have occurred to your bones, at least. I'm sorry it won't get your tooth back!
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#9 Old 02-15-2011, 06:46 AM
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I wouldn't bother having a root canal. There are some dental clinics that open up like twice a year here and will do a cleaning and pull one tooth for free. I'll wait for one of those. Dental care is very expensive...it's just not accessible to me at this point. I make $9.50 an hour at a crappy job, drive an unsafe car, and barely make my bills. I'm doing my best to take care of myself, but saving a few thousand to get my teeth worked on would probably take me several years.

I don't grind my teeth.
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#10 Old 02-15-2011, 06:48 AM
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Shauna, get a calcium supplement - take 1,500 mg per day minimum. The supplement must have magnesium or your body may not be able to properly absorb the calcium. If you do this, you can still undo a lot of the damage that may have occurred to your bones, at least. I'm sorry it won't get your tooth back!

You don't know for sure that there's damage done through lack of calcium as yet. The damage might have been done through vomiting so often in pregnancy. It's a good idea to get blood work done before supplementing blind with vitamins and minerals that you may actually not need.

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#11 Old 02-15-2011, 07:34 AM
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Hello Shauna! I agree with nishani about not just jumping in and taking supplements with no evidance that you're low in calcium/etc.

I think vegans and vegetarians tend to have this tendancy to blame EVERYTHING on their diet. I see it here a lot, and I do it myself a lot. I think a preocupation with diet, a tendency to be more interested than average in health coupled with the modern tedency to use the internet to diagnose makes vegetarian/vegan online communities a breeding ground for the feeling that you're diet is the answer to everything. Feeling sick? Maybe you're intolerant of something. Too much gas? Have you considered giving up wheat? Feeling tired? Too much sugar and processed food for sure!

So my advice would be to stop worrying. I've chipped a tooth and my dentist never suggested it has anything to do with my diet (unless by "my diet" you mean the fact I persisted in crunching hard sweets even though my boyfriend had told me I was going to chip my tooth... and in that case it was totaly my diets fault!).

If you want to put your mind at rest, consider tracking your diet for a week or so online and seeing how much calcium you get (I'm not sure actually if they tell you that, but if they don't you can probally get a rough idea using online sources and tracking it yourself), or get your blood tested just to reassure you (although, maybe that costs money too? and if so you probally don't want to pay for that either! It depends how much you're worrying I guess.)

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#12 Old 02-15-2011, 08:05 AM
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You don't know for sure that there's damage done through lack of calcium as yet. The damage might have been done through vomiting so often in pregnancy. It's a good idea to get blood work done before supplementing blind with vitamins and minerals that you may actually not need.

This.

I don't think you should start supplementing or you could end up with other complications Shauna. If you're concerned about calcium and not sure, get some blood work done and be sure.

I believe everything.
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#13 Old 02-15-2011, 08:34 AM
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I had actually started taking a calcium magnesium supplement for a while because I was hoping it would help with my fibromyalgia pain (my dad said it helps his) but I didn't notice a difference and stopped taking it. I'm not big on supplementing blindly either. The neonatologist prescribed iron drops for my daughter when she was 6 months because "breastmilk doesn't have enough iron" and her iron levels were 15.9 at her well check-up. Her pedi told me to throw the script out. LOL Anyway, I don't know how to go about getting blood work done. Is it expensive? Do I need to have a regular doctor to do it or can it be done at a clinic? I don't have a doctor.
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#14 Old 02-15-2011, 08:56 AM
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i grind my teeth horribly at night. so, when i went to have a special night guard made i asked my dentist if i should take extra calcium supplements above the daily recommended amount to strengthen my teeth. he said, by this point in time (meaning since i'm 31) it won't improve the strength of my teeth. that after you reach your peak bone mass you are no longer building strong bone mass just maintaining what you already have. so, excess calcium isn't going to strengthen them any more.

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#15 Old 02-15-2011, 09:08 AM
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Hi Shauna! I really don't know what to advise you, as I'm not a dietician. I have chipped teeth, but that was because they had large old fillings in them and were structurally compromised for reasons other than a lack of calcium. And I used to LOVE drinking plain white milk. As Identity_thief mentions above, my diet was to blame inasmuch as some things I eat are hard: nectarines and peaches that have fragmented pits and I sometimes bite down on a bit of pit; beans or sunflower seeds which have bits of nutshell or gravel in them (how come I only seem to have this problem when I buy ORGANIC dry beans in bulk???)...

A long time ago, I consulted a local hospital's dietician staff free-of-charge. It didn't take long, and I had been told to keep a log of what I had eaten for three days straight. That's not as precise as an examination/bloodwork looking for actual nutritional deficiencies, granted. When I first got serious about limiting my milk consumption I started taking 250mg of calcium carbonate every two days, which isn't much; I don't know if I needed it for my bones, but it appeared to help me sleep if I took it with dinner or afterwards.

I don't know how to address the fact that affordable medical/dental care is not available for some of us. I have had a root canal, and even with insurance it was expensive. Another thing is, after a root canal is done, the tooth is more brittle than before, and usually you have to have a crown put on it. Which costs lots more money- even with insurance (I speak from experience).

You mention that a clinic offers to do one cleaning and one extraction for free. They won't do a filling instead?!

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#16 Old 02-15-2011, 09:46 AM
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You mention that a clinic offers to do one cleaning and one extraction for free. They won't do a filling instead?!

I suspect it's cheaper and faster for them to pull them. Get as many people in and out as you can ya know? My mom told me to write to local dentists and beg for free or reduced work. LOL She said because of my situation (disabled child at home, making it difficult to work full-time) they might sympathize. I might just try that. My whole mouth needs worked on, not just that one tooth.
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#17 Old 02-15-2011, 09:56 AM
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sneak into canada and get your teeth fixed
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#18 Old 02-15-2011, 11:09 AM
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Reasonable supplements are a good idea - I'm guessing you might not be able to afford the bloodwork straight up if you couldn't get the dental? Also raw onions in salads or sandwiches should get you some calcium, and spinach never hurt anyone. It really ISN'T because you're vegan from what you've told us, so see through the lies of the torture racket and stay cruelty free :3

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#19 Old 02-15-2011, 11:38 AM
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My mom told me to write to local dentists and beg for free or reduced work. LOL She said because of my situation (disabled child at home, making it difficult to work full-time) they might sympathize. I might just try that. My whole mouth needs worked on, not just that one tooth.

you absolutely should. you could just call them though. i lost insurance for 6 months and i was able to negotiate rates with all but one of my doctors and in many cases i got extremely reduced rates and i even got a bunch of free drugs. insurance companies don't pay dentists and doctors much money so they are essentially getting your copay and a very small fee on top of that. talk to the dentists and explain your situation. my dentist was one of the doctors that significantly reduced my rates and if my dental insurance doesn't cover something like the night guard i got i got him to charge me a lot less.

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#20 Old 02-15-2011, 12:23 PM
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I'm sorry that I can't contribute much useful here except to the chorus of "Don't worry, see someone about it" - but right now I'm absolutely horrified that you can't even go see a doctor. Is that normal in the US? I'm not very educated on your healthcare system, is it really so bad that you don't get any help and won't go because of that? Please, get some help (This is coming from someone who has had her teeth checked four times a year for about... forever? So I might be spoiled by the German healthcare system, I don't know.)

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#21 Old 02-15-2011, 03:06 PM
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I have genetically horrible teeth, and even though I had insurace, bad experienes left me with a real phobia of dentists, and I neglected seeing any for years. Two years ago I made myself go-broken molar did me in-and I've have tons of work done. Even an implant.
What I'm getting at is, you need to see a dentist! I agree with the letter writing campaign-It doesn't hurt to ask.
Are there any dental schools you could contact?
Dentists full rates are about 2/3 higher for uninsured patients, you need to at least negotiate.

Can anyone offer help about going to Canada?

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#22 Old 02-15-2011, 04:35 PM
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sneak into canada and get your teeth fixed

As a Canadian, I wish that would work, but unfortunately that is not covered by OHIP even if you are a Canadian. Dental Care is very expensive here too.

I like your Mom's idea of asking dentists, and you might get further by contacting agencies who help sole support Moms and/or families who are caring for children with disabilities.

And a nutritionist on this site helped me, and some of her advice included that I was eating too much protein. And too much protein consumption can leach out the calcium. So I went on line to fitday.com and started tracking, not only calories and activities (calories burned) but also the proportion of my diet which was protein, carbs, calcium, etc.

It's kinda fund and it's really easy.

All the best
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#23 Old 02-15-2011, 04:48 PM
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I personally wouldn't blame my diet, most fortified almond/rice/soy milks have as much calcium as milk, and if you eat all those other things I would say it probably isn't diet related.

There are no reasons to not go vegan, only excuses.
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#24 Old 02-15-2011, 06:30 PM
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Are there any dental schools you could contact?

This! Check and see if there are any schools in your area. We have some here that offer free exams and cleanings. I also agree to go with the letter writing idea. It's worth a shot .
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#25 Old 02-16-2011, 04:35 AM
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I'm sorry that I can't contribute much useful here except to the chorus of "Don't worry, see someone about it" - but right now I'm absolutely horrified that you can't even go see a doctor. Is that normal in the US? I'm not very educated on your healthcare system, is it really so bad that you don't get any help and won't go because of that? Please, get some help (This is coming from someone who has had her teeth checked four times a year for about... forever? So I might be spoiled by the German healthcare system, I don't know.)

Absolutely. Mostly it's lower-middle to middle class people who go without insurance and can't afford the care. There's medicaid for lower class people (but not all of them qualify, I think you have to have kids), and higher paying jobs tend to offer insurance and if they don't (or not full-coverage), they are more likely to be able to afford routine check-ups. My bf has a higher paying job and he has insurance but no dental, but he COULD afford to see a dentist if he really had to. It's not a priority for him though and he hasn't been since he was a kid. My ex works for a walmart and they offer insurance, but it's so expensive that no one who works in anything but management can afford it. I think it was like half his paycheck to get very basic coverage. I would expect more from such a large corporation but, hey it's walmart! I was talking to a german woman last year and she was just as horrified as you.

I try not to ***** and moan too much. My daughter's expenses are entirely covered due to her disability. Which is wonderful. If she weren't covered she would have died long ago, probably from starvation. Her food is $1000 a month. Most of her important prescriptions I could afford by borrowing from family. I would have just gone into debt from her hospital stays. But without her formula she'd be dead. And I'm only able to work because they provide nursing care in the home.

I really want to go to school and learn something that's *employable*, but I can't even imagine juggling school, work, and two kids, one who is particularly needy.
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#26 Old 02-16-2011, 05:48 AM
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I'm not sure I would suggest stealing our health care (Canada). That being said, dentistry isn't really covered here, at least not in Ontario.

You do really need to see a dentist though. If there is a risk of infection, it can become quite severe. And I don't mean having your tooth pulled, but having an infection spread into your jaw would not only be excruciatingly painful, but potentially life-threatening. Depending on how badly the tooth is chpped, part of the tooth is now exposed with no enamel to protect it. Thus, it is prone to cavity.

I don't mean to be overly dramatic, but not going to a dentist sounds truly awful. Are there any universities/colleges nearby with dental programs? When I was in college, they had a free dental clinic so that dentistry students could get experience.
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#27 Old 02-16-2011, 04:34 PM
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I did hear about a dental office in the area that has a $10 a month plan that offers reduced rates. I'll have to look into it more to see if I can afford the work I need and if the $10 a month will be worth it, but it may be an option. I can afford $10 a month and if I go for only an extraction for this tooth, it should be pretty cheap, and then maybe I can save up for the other work (I won't know until I go int what all I'll need and the teeth aren't far back enough that I'll just want them pulled).
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#28 Old 02-17-2011, 10:39 PM
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i'm not sure I agree w/ calcium supplementation. there's a lot of factors in calcium absorption, such as amount of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, and the high dose supplements are poorly absorbed...i.e. the more you take the less percent you absorb. the best way to get calcium is through natural foods, like you probably are already doing. Calcium is in tons of foods...nuts, broccoli, spinach and other leafy greens, tofu, oranges, peas, etc. if you are eating a balanced diet you will likely be fine.

I believe the average vegan consumes less calcium than an omni, but that's misleading by itself. Ingestion of animal protein has been linked to increased calcium eliminiation. Meat and other animal products naturally make your blood and urine slightly acidic, while plant based foods make it slightly alkaline. Your body's way of maintaining the normal pH when it gets acidic is to draw stored calcium from the bones, which leads to it being secreted more in the urine. so even though they may ingest 10% more calcium, they might lose 30% more.

there have been studies recently showing osteoporosis to be less common on plant based diets even w/ the lower intakes. Like you said, it was sort of a pre-existing condition and was prone to breaking before you changed your diet.

I have no ideas for the dental care, i'm not as wise as the rest of these ppl, good luck!
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#29 Old 02-22-2011, 04:21 PM
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I am in a similar situation. I had a tooth that broke. Part of the back came off. It was a front tooth. I had a root canal and they were going to put a crown on it and i lost my insurance when I got laid off. I was in nursing school at the time and could not afford to go back. The tooth broke off at the gum line because it did not have a crown on it. Now I suppose I need an implant as they probably can not put a post and crown at this point. I really do not think I needed a root canal on that tooth but they insisted the root would eventually be involved even if they just filled it. Now I am still missing a tooth in the front and although I brush and floss my teeth are breaking and old fillings are coming out and molars are breaking off. I have one other front tooth that needs a filling soon. It has a cavity by the root. I have two top molars that are almost broken down to the gumline and one bottom one that just broke half. I do not have the funds to go to a dentist at this time. I am searching for a second job and when I find one I will go to the dental schools and see what I can have done. I do not want to lose my teeth. I really want to have implants eventually if I can. The front tooth with the cavity has to be done asap and and I want that missing tooth done even if I have to have an implant. Then I will get the back molars taken care of. One might be able to be filled and the other two have to be pulled Im sure because they are so far down to the gum. I want to get implants on them but I guess I can get a bridge and live with it since they are back teeth. If I have them pulled now I am concerned that the other teeth will shift and it will be harder for them to do a bridge or implant later.

I will have to do a bit at a time since I dont have insurance either. There are dental plans that cost about couple hundred a year and save you money. I have not much pain right now. My problems are due to the fact that i have a sweet tooth and would snack or nibble on stuff that was carby sugary things and not brush right after. I brushed twice a day but working long hours and not brushing while doing double shifts caused small cavities between my teeth that I did not know were there since I was not doing regular dental visits. I had pretty good teeth up until age 40.

Shawna, for now I am just trying to swish often with antiseptic to prevent infection and keep my mouth clean as I can without doing damage to my enamel until I can get my teeth fixed or pulled. I really dont want to pull those molars. Not sure how much of the roots are intact but not sure they can put a post and crown on them. I just really dont know what it would be like having a bridge.
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#30 Old 02-24-2011, 12:52 PM
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Hi Shauna! From your first post, it seems that your teeth were destined for this.
-high sugar diet...that you're still working to fix
-puking frequently during your two pregnancies (stomach acid wears away enamel)
-being unable to see a dentist so you couldn't know what state your teeth were actually in
-receiving questionable amounts of vitamin D, which help you absorb calcium

For calcium sources that you may not know about, check out my blog post about calcium: Calcium Sneaks...it's all natural foods...cheap foods!

As for being unable to see a dentist, trust me I know dentists are expensive! Still, you can get much cheaper treatment if you go to your local university, college or community college. All three typically have dental schools and the students need to practice on people so they allow you to go in for significantly cheaper than a regular dentist.

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Why Vegans Shouldn't Worry About (and how to add in more)...
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