I’ve been fascinated by oral health and it’s connection to whole-body health for a long time. I’ve looked for answers to questions like “Can teeth heal” and “What really causes tooth decay” and this podcast episode addresses those same questions.
What Really Causes Tooth Decay?
Will Revak of OraWellness.com and I talk about the relationship between food and overall health and the health of the mouth. With statistics like “98% of adults in the US have some form of oral health problem,” it is time to start looking more deeply into the relationship of diet and lifestyle to oral health.
The cultural understanding is that sugar sitting on the teeth causes tooth decay and that brushing, flossing and maintaining good oral hygiene is the key to good oral health. Turns out that the data doesn’t really support these ideas though. Consider this:
- Women are more likely to suffer from oral health problems when pregnant and a pregnant women with oral health problems is more likely to struggle with pregnancy complications
- Times during our lives where our oral health is affected can affect the body in other ways. For example, teething babies often exhibit symptoms like fever, rashes, diarrhea, earaches and trouble sleeping. This indicates that what happens in the mouth can affect other parts of the body
- Patients with certain cardiac patients have to be extremely careful getting dental work done and are often counseled to take antibiotics even for routine cleanings to prevent a life-threatening heart infection.
All of these facts points to the idea that there is a deeper cause to tooth decay and oral health problems than just what happens to the external side of the teeth. On the flip side, these points also indicate that problems in the mouth can affect the body in deeper ways.
Will points out that if we step back from our cultural assumptions about tooth decay and really evaluate the data, a much different conclusion emerges. Looking at research like:
- The book Cure Tooth Decay
- Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by dentist Dr. Weston A. Price
- The work of Melvin Page
- The studies of Drs. Mellanby
- Dr. Steinman’s studies on blood phosphoris and dentinal fluid
- The connection between diet and oral health
The Root Cause
The research reveals teeth are not solid as we assume. They are made up of time tubes called tubules and each front tooth alone has up to 3 miles of complex tubules running through it.
Factors like nutrient levels in the body and blood phosphorus levels affect the strength of the tubules and the body’s ability to avoid tooth decay. Foods like bone broth, organ meats, soup, butter, and fatty fish help support healthy blood phosphorus levels (and healthy teeth) while foods like sugar, supplemental calcium, beans and legumes strip blood calcium.
When we look at native populations with low rates of tooth decay, these populations had 4x the minerals in their diets and 10x the fat soluble vitamins. Both of these factors are depleted in modern diets and it makes sense that we are seeing a rise in tooth decay.
Resources we Mention
- Cure Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nagel
- Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Dr. Weston A. Price
- Dr. Steinman’s study of dentinal fluid (and this)
- Article: What is Tooth Decay and How Can We Stop It?
- Study: Flossing lowers C-Reactive Protein Levels (CRP)
- Article: Oral Health Affects the Health of the Whole Body (part 2)
- Video Series: 5 Steps to a Healthy Mouth
- Article: How to Reverse Tooth Decay Naturally
Will also mentioned the Bass Brushing Technique which is explained here.
Listen to the interview for more great information about avoiding tooth decay and supporting your teeth from the inside out.
Thanks as always for listening to the Wellness Mama Podcast. If you’re enjoying these interviews, please subscribe via iTunes or Stitcher and leave a (5 Star!) rating and review if you haven’t already!
What did you think of this interview? How are your teeth? Ready to make some healthy changes? Share below!