How to Reverse Tooth Decay and Avoid Braces

teeth How to Reverse Tooth Decay and Avoid Braces

Do you and your kids brush and floss regularly and limit sugar and still get cavities?

Have any of your kids needed to have braces?

Has your child under 6 had signs of tooth decay?

Ever wish you could reverse those things?

If you are like me, you were raised with the notion (likely told by your dentist) that sugar and bad genes cause tooth decay and that if you were getting tooth decay as a child, you needed to cut back on sugar. You likely also believe that genetics determine tooth spacing and that your genetics might have doomed you to braces…

I believed all that stuff too… but as it turns out, there is more to the story!

Enter Sir (Dr) Edward Mellanby (he discovered Vitamin D) and his lovely wife Dr. May Mellanby. These two contributed much research in the areas of bone and tooth health and mineral absorption. In fact, it was Edward who discovered that Vitamin D deficiency caused rickets. They also discovered that tooth structure is determined during a child’s growth, and that poorly formed teeth are more likely to decay (pretty logical).

Also enter Dr. Weston A Price, a dentist who traveled and studied isolated populations around the world and their native diets. Dr. Price was surprised to discover that many of these native peoples eating a diet devoid of modern foods had perfect teeth structure and little tooth decay. Their teeth were well spaced with plenty of room, and were white and healthy. Lest we think this is just genetics, Dr. Price studied people all over the world with widely different genes and found this same common factor. (An interesting note: when these people are removed from their native environment and switch to a western diet, they get tooth decay, bone loss and other health problems at the same rate as people in western industrialized countries)

These doctors all reached the same conclusion after years of research, mainly that tooth structure and health is largely determined by diet, especially three main factors:

  1. The presence of enough minerals in the diet.
  2. The presence of enough fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) in the diet.
  3. How bio-available these nutrients are and how well the body is absorbing them. They found that this is largely influenced by the presence of Phytic Acid in the diet.

What is Phytic Acid?

Phytic acid is a molecule of phosphorus tightly bound with other molecules to form a type of phosphorus that is not easily absorbed by humans. From the Weston A. Price Foundation:

Phytic acid is the principal storage form of phosphorus in many plant tissues, especially the bran portion of grains and other seeds. It contains the mineral phosphorus tightly bound in a snowflake-like molecule. In humans and animals with one stomach, the phosphorus is not readily bioavailable. In addition to blocking phosphorus availability, the “arms” of the phytic acid molecule readily bind with other minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc, making them unavailable as well. In this form, the compound is referred to as phytate.

Phytic acid is found in grains, nuts, seeds and legumes and in much smaller amounts in some fruits and vegetables. The body naturally converts phytic acid into phytates, which are un-absorbable and take calcium from the body. Those who consume high amounts of phytic acid will lose calcium and absorb other minerals at lower rates.

Modern growing practices, including the use of high phosphorus fertilizer, mean a higher phytic acid content in many foods. Seeds, nuts, bran, oatmeal, and soybeans are especially high in phytic acid, and these foods are present in abundance in modern diet.

Check out this article about phytic acid for a comprehensive list of phytic acid content in foods.

Phytic Acid’s Effect on Bone and Tooth Health

People who consume large amounts of phytic acid (most Americans) in the form of grains, seeds, nuts, and legumes have higher rates of tooth decay, mineral deficiencies and osteoporosis.

Over the long term, when the diet lacks minerals or contains high levels of phytates or both, the metabolism goes down, and the body goes into mineral-starvation mode. The body then sets itself up to use as little of these minerals as possible. Adults may get by for decades on a high-phytate diet, but growing children run into severe problems. In a phytate-rich diet, their bodies will suffer from the lack of calcium and phosphorus with poor bone growth, short stature, rickets, narrow jaws and tooth decay; and for the lack of zinc and iron with anemia and mental retardation.

Just as lack of Vitamin D and poor calcium absorption can cause malformation of the bones of the legs (as in the case of Rickets), it can cause the jawbone to form poorly, resulting in spacing problems for the teeth and braces for the child.

Sadly, the most commonly eaten diet in America these days is high in grains, sugars, and vegetable oils, and low in animal fats and fat soluble vitamins- the exact opposite of what the Drs. Mellanby found to be helpful for optimal bone health and the prevention of tooth decay.

The good news is that teeth (and bones) are able to heal themselves in a process called remineralization. Basically, specialized cells in the center of the tooth are able to regenerate dentin, the layer of tooth just under the enamel, and the enamel can then properly remineralize from the outside. This same process happens in bones when phytic acid is removed from the diet and minerals/fat soluble vitamins are added.

To prove this theory, the Drs. Mellanby did a study on children with existing cavities. The children were put into three groups:

  • Group One: Regular diet plus oatmeal (which is high in phytic acid)
  • Group Two: Regular diet plus vitamin D
  • Group Three: Diet low in phytic acid plus vitamin D.

This is what they found:

phytic acid causes cavities How to Reverse Tooth Decay and Avoid Braces

The group consuming phytic acid with no supplemental vitamin D continued to get cavities with little to no healing. The group that just supplemented Vitamin D showed some healing, but also got some new cavities. The group consuming no phytic acid and supplementing Vitamin D showed very few new cavities and actually had many existing cavities heal! (Good reason to cut back on the grains, eat good fats, and optimize Vitamin D!)

This article at Whole Health Source explains more.

How to Prevent and Reverse Tooth Decay and Avoid Braces

To recap, the things that Drs. Mellanby and Dr. Price found to prevent and reverse tooth and bone problems are:

  1. The presence of enough minerals in the diet.
  2. The presence of enough fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) in the diet.
  3. How bio-available these nutrients are and how well the body is absorbing them. They found that this is largely influenced by the presence of Phytic Acid in the diet.

What does this mean practically in the diet? It is not possible or necessary to eliminate Phytic acid from the diet. What should be considered is taking care to minimize the foods that contain the highest amounts. Some preparations like soaking and fermenting can reduce the phytic acid content and should be practiced if the foods are going to be consumed, but in many cases, it is better to avoid these foods completely.

Nuts, for instance, have a high phytic acid content which can be greatly reduced by soaking the nuts in salt or lemon water overnight and then rinsing and dehydrating in the oven (the same can be done with beans). While this step is time consuming, it is feasible with things like nuts or beans, but much more intensive with wheat (which contains more phytic acid!) Grains especially are better soaked, sprouted and fermented,  if consumed at all, but this process does not completely eliminate the other harmful properties of grains.

You might notice that meats, eggs, vegetables, and healthy fats are not on this list of high phytic acid foods. As I’ve mentioned before, these foods contain higher levels of vitamins and minerals are are more nutrient dense anyway. If foods high in phytic acid are going to be eaten, check out this article from the Weston A. Price Foundation on how to sprout, ferment, and soak them to make them less harmful.

Especially for the sake of your children, who are developing their tooth and bone structure, consider reducing your consumption of phytic acid containing foods. A diet based on the guidelines suggested by the doctors above will also help achieve optimal weight, improve concentration, and increase energy levels.

There is also a great book called Cure Tooth Decay: Heal and Prevent Cavities with Nutrition that explains in great detail the connection between phytic acid and tooth/bone health and practical steps to reverse it.

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