One of the things I was most excited about in my switch to real foods and healthier living was the big difference it made in my oral health. My tooth sensitivity went away, my teeth whitened naturally, cavities started healing and my gums didn’t bleed anymore.
Have you ever?
- Gotten cavities despite being an avid brusher/flosser?
- Struggled with yellowing teeth?
- Had bleeding gums or been told that you have the beginning of gum disease?
- Had to have root canals?
As Dr. Weston A. Price (a dentist) found and detailed in Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, there were cultures throughout the world who had perfect teeth despite no access to dentists or modern toothpaste, while similar cultures with different diets had very high rates of tooth decay.
He found examples of cultures with similar genetic backgrounds with some living in primitive type societies and eating primitive type diets and others who ate a modernized diet. He found that many primitive cultures were able to completely avoid tooth decay and the many oral health problems we struggle with today.
The image on the left shows a stark example of this: the woman in the top right ate a primitive, whole-food, high-fat diet while the other women ate more modernized diet that contained grains and agricultural foods.
Price hypothesized that several dietary factors contributed to this difference in oral health.
Sir (Dr.) Edward Mellanby (he discovered Vitamin D) and his lovely wife Dr. May Mellanby were also influential in discovering the roles of nutrients in oral health. 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).
From a previous post:
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:
- The presence of enough minerals in the diet.
- The presence of enough fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) in the diet.
- 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 Influences Oral Health?
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:
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!)
Why Oral Health Is so Important:
Oral health is intricately linked to the health of the whole body and the rampant rates of tooth decay and oral health problems is a sign of some deeper nutritional problems in modern society. Why? From a previous post:
The reason the negative impact of gum disease goes beyond the mouth is gum disease is an active bacterial infection that has access to the whole body via the bloodstream! The ‘bad bugs’ involved with gum disease are very mobile. They can and do swim upstream and colonize other areas of the body. In face, the plaque deposits from bad bugs in the mouth are the same types of plaque found in arterial walls in heart disease sufferers! Given the understanding that these ‘bad bugs’ in the mouth swim through the bloodstream, it makes complete sense.
Here is the official word on the increased risk of the main killers in our society if a person has active gum disease. My guess is the real numbers are probably much higher than the official word…
So these bad bugs colonize the mouth as their base, they are then able to access the rest of the body via the bloodstream. We view this situation most folks have with active gum disease similarly to having an enemy inside your gates slowly but surely eroding one’s health by poisoning the system.
The known risks of this common situation are two fold. First, these ‘bad bugs’ destroy flesh and bone tissue. They have even been caught under a microscope ganging up and killing white blood cells! They also dump toxins into the system. So, the first risk factor is the actual damage the bad bugs do to the body.
Supporting Teeth with Nutrition
Like the rest of the body, oral health should be supported from the inside with quality nutrition and from the outside with quality oral health products. To recap, the diet that Drs. Mellanby and Dr. Price recommended and that is recommended in the book Cure Tooth Decay includes:
Diet to Help Heal Cavities and Improve Oral Health
- Drastically cut foods that contained phytic acid. (see list below) Removing grains and beans will remove most of the major sources.
- Limit foods containing even natural sugars or starches- For the short term, it can be helpful to limit foods with natural sugars and focus on mineral rich vegetables, bone broths, meats, and healthy fats.
- Eat a LOT of healthy fats. I added about 1/4 cup extra of coconut oil to my diet each day, and used only pastured, cultured butter. I also took Fermented Cod Liver Oil daily.
- I made an effort to consume a lot of homemade bone broth for its added minerals.
To recap: No grains, beans or nuts and limited fruits and starches. Lots of vegetables, protein, healthy fats and bone broth.
Foods highest in Phytic Acid:
Supplements to Improve Oral Health
To help the body improve oral health, it is sometimes necessary to increase mineral levels with supplements. While diet alone might be enough, many foods are depleted of nutrients from being grown in nutrient depleted soil, so supplements help fill the gaps. These are the supplements I typically recommend for improved oral health and dental healing:
- Fermented Cod Liver Oil and Butter Blend- Green Pastures makes this as a Butter Oil/Fermented Cod Liver Oil blend I prefer the combination in capsules or there is a liquid version (tastes terrible). This is one of the main supplements recommended by Dr. Price from his research.
- Vitamin D- This was the other main supplement that Dr. Price and the Drs. Mellanby found was extremely supportive of dental healing. In the study they did, cavities healed even when diet wasn’t changed if Vitamin D was optimized and the best healing occurred when diet was optimized and Vitamin D was added. This can also be obtained by daily, regular sun exposure and is contained in Fermented Cod Liver Oil.
- Coconut Oil- An additional 1/4 to 1/2 cup a day of coconut oil in a smoothie or melted in tea each day will help boost nutrient levels and provide the building blocks for good oral health. We get ours from Tropical Traditions, but you can find it many places…. just look for organic, virgin and unrefined coconut oil.
- Others: I also take Magnesium, Gelatin, and Vitamin C daily, though these aren’t as vital to tooth healing.
- I brush with homemade remineralizing toothpaste (or tooth powder) daily and while I was actively trying to heal teeth, I swished with both calcium and magnesium powders dissolved in water daily to help provide minerals and to keep the mouth alkaline.
- I also added Ora Wellness Brushing Blend to my regimen and use their (gentler) toothbrush daily.
- I swished daily with Hydrogen Peroxide to keep mouth bacteria at bay (which had the added effect of whitening teeth).
- I brushed with activated charcoal every couple of days to help pull toxins from the mouth and it has the added bonus of being a highly effective tooth whitener!
How is your oral health? Does it need improvement? Do you already do any of these things? Share below!