Holistic Health Herbalist
I despise going to the dentist, and it’s no wonder considering how many hours I’ve spent in the orthodontist’s chair. Cavities were never an issue for me, I’ve only ever had one in my entire life, but baby teeth that would not fall out on their own paired a narrow jaw and crooked incoming permanent teeth had me visiting the dentist on a monthly basis.
To say I’ve avoided the dentist is an understatement. In fact, this last stretch was a full seven years before I finally decided to bite the bullet and just get it over with. So, I scheduled an appointment and nervously waited for the day to arrive – and it really wasn’t bad at all. No cavities, thanks to my daily flossing habit, but I did have some build-up and gum pockets that needed removal and healing. Everything else looked surprisingly good despite my seven-year absence.
However, a lot of people aren’t graced with especially resistant teeth like I am. Take my husband for example – he eats a healthy and balanced diet, flosses and brushes daily, and leads a healthy lifestyle, yet he has a new cavity almost every time he sees the dentist (which is twice a year).
So how do we heal our teeth naturally and keep them in tip top condition?
It’s all about the RIGHT nutrition and knowing how teeth decay and form cavities.
And speaking of tooth decay, how DOES it happen exactly?
1. Your enamel is composed of calcium and phosphorous. When these minerals wear away, the enamel becomes thin and weak.
2. Whenever you eat carbohydrates, it feeds the bacteria in your mouth. These bacteria then release lactic acid which, when left on the teeth, begins to erode away enamel. This is called acid erosion.
3. Saliva acts as a neutralizer against lactic acid and helps to strengthen and remineralize teeth.
4. The thinning and erosion of enamel is what happens when remineralization does not occur fast enough. This can be caused by nutritional deficiencies or a high carb diet.
5. Acidic beverages like soft drinks and even lemon water are also notorious for demineralizing teeth. It is important to avoid drinking soda as much as possible and to rinse your mouth after consuming any acidic beverage.
6. Tooth sensitivity is caused by advanced acid erosion where the nerve endings of the teeth have been exposed. This creates a sensitivity to acidic, sticky, sweet, hot, or cold foods.
7. Cavities form when advanced acid erosion eats through the enamel and into the soft layer of the tooth.
10 Ways to Heal Your Teeth Naturally – and Keep Them That Way!
It is completely possible to heal decay and tooth sensitivity through proper nutrition. Even though enamel itself cannot be restored once it is gone, you can still strengthen demineralized areas in order to prevent cavities and decay.
Here’s how it’s done:
1. Avoid Fluoride
Despite everything we have been told, fluoride is NOT good for you. In fact, it is labeled as a neurotoxin (you can read the article from The Lancet here) and certainly does not belong in your water supply or your toothpaste.
In fact, countries with fluoridated water do NOT have lower levels of tooth decay contrary to popular belief. Fluoride is also labeled as a drug that is NOT FDA approved and there have been tons of studies linking fluoride to lower IQs in children.
2. Avoid Glycerin
Glycerin itself isn’t harmful, however its use in oral hygiene products can lead to further demineralization. This is due to its thick and viscous nature. It coats everything including your teeth making it almost impossible for remineralization to take place.
Keep a look out for it in toothpastes, mouthwash, breath sprays, and anything else you might eat, drink, or use for oral hygiene.
3. Begin Oil Pulling
Oil pulling may not be the highlight of my morning, but I can assure you it’s one of the best healing protocols I’ve used for my teeth.
When I first started oil pulling, I couldn’t believe that people could swish a tablespoon of coconut oil in their mouths for 15 minutes, but after about a week of trying and failing miserably, I was finally able to oil pull (with the aid of a few drops of tasty essential oil) for the proper amount of time.
I noticed pretty straight off how clean my mouth felt after oil pulling and I’ve been doing it ever since. The oil kills bacteria and removes it from the teeth, gums, and tongue and keeps bacteria from re-adhering to the teeth without disrupting remineralization. Once you’re done swishing, you spit the oil (along with all the germs and bacteria) into a trash can.
My hope is to shrink my gum pockets using this method before my next dental visit. I’m currently using essential oil infused oil pulling which you can read more about here.
Learn more about oil pulling below:
Eating foods high in minerals, especially calcium and phosphorus, help encourage tooth remineralization. Even eating just one meal high in mineral rich foods is enough to control tooth decay. Having two or more fortified meals per day can even reverse decay and help prevent future cavities.
Foods high in phosphorus include:
• Brown rice
• Grass fed beef
• Mung beans
• Raw dairy
• Sunflower seeds
• Turkey breast
• White beans
Foods high in calcium include:
• Bok choy
• Kale (steamed)
• Kefir (yogurt)
• Raw dairy
If you’re worried about getting enough minerals, I recommend this liquid mineral supplement. Magnesium is another great mineral to include that helps combat tooth decay. I enjoy drinking this magnesium supplement before bedtime not only for its sleep supporting effects, but also for the minerals!
5. Don’t Snack
Constantly eating food throughout the day not only gives your digestive system little chance to rest, it also impedes the remineralization process of your teeth. Plus, when we snack, we tend to reach for carb-rich foods for that quick spike of energy. The problem is, snacking on carbs provides a constant supply of food for oral bacteria. It also causes these well-fed bacteria to produce a constant supply of lactic acid which prevents your saliva from remineralizing teeth.
If you have to snack, make sure to rinse your mouth thoroughly with water afterwards.
6. Eliminate Refined Sugar and Grains from Your Diet
Believe it or not, tooth decay CAN be reversed with nutrition, especially if you follow a grain free diet. Avoiding grains is key because grains contain a lot of starch and simple sugars which feed acid-producing bacteria. Not only that, grains also contain a compound called phytic acid – an anti-nutrient that blocks adequate mineral absorption. Consuming fermented grains may be less damaging, but if you have tooth decay, a grain free lifestyle is the way to go in order to heal it completely.
7. Scrape Your Tongue
Keeping your mouth as bacteria free as possible is key for healthy teeth and gums. The tongue in particular can house a staggering amount of acid-producing bacteria. Using a tongue scraper to remove bacteria build-up can lessen the bacteria load in the mouth substantially.
I have noticed a huge improvement in oral health after implementing this simple step in my oral hygiene routine. Fresher breath, cleaner teeth, and no disgusting film on my tongue after meals. If you’ve ever noticed a sticky cotton feeling in your mouth after eating sugary foods, that will be the bacteria in your mouth having a hay day. Do yourself a favor and use a tongue scraper once a day to keep bacteria under control.
You can get a tongue scraper here.
8. Support Healthy Digestion for Best Absorption
Unfortunately, the saying “You are what you eat” isn’t entirely true. A more fitting description would be “you are what you absorb”.
A staggering 90% of Americans have some degree of compromised digestion whether it be impaired stomach acid production, poor diet choices, too much stress, or medications that affect our digestive fire, the fact of the matter is, we don’t absorb nutrients like we used to.
This includes nutrients like teeth-strengthening minerals calcium and phosphorus. If we can’t absorb them, they’re not available for use to remineralize our teeth.
Taking raw apple cider vinegar raw apple cider vinegar or a betaine HCL supplementbefore meals can help increase low stomach acid for optimal digestion. Taking bittersis also great way to encourage the gall bladder to release fat digesting bile for the proper absorption of fat soluble vitamins.
And lastly, taking a good multi-strain probiotic will help populate your gut with good healthy bacteria.
Perhaps most of all, it’s important to eat with reverence and with a calm sense of mind in order for the body to properly digest food and absorb nutrients.
9. Take Fat-Soluble Vitamins and Eat Fat-Soluble Vitamin Rich Foods
It is now common knowledge (at least amongst us crunchy folk) that a diet rich in fat soluble vitamins plays a crucial role in the body’s ability to absorb minerals. In fact, cultures around the world who emphasize foods high in vitamins A, D, E, and K2 are known to have impeccable oral health with great bone structure and almost indiscernible tooth decay.
However, once these cultures began introducing refined foods into their diet, tooth decay began to run rampant and even the children born to these individuals had poorer bone structure and more tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease.
Eating a diet rich in fat soluble vitamins is one of the best ways to combat and prevent tooth decay.
Foods high in fat soluble vitamin include:
• Cold-pressed cod liver oil
• Dandelion greens
• Grass-fed ghee
• High vitamin butter
• Miso paste
• Oily fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines
• Raw almonds
• Raw grass-fed milk
• Raw hazelnuts
• Raw radicchio
• Raw swiss chard
• Steamed kale
10. Use the Right Toothpaste
Choosing the right toothpaste is key for supporting healthy teeth and gums, but which ones are healthiest? I know it can be hard to navigate ingredients so I’ve listed the top 5 to avoid below. If the toothpaste you are considering purchasing has any of the below ingredients, don’t buy it!
Harmful toothpaste ingredients to avoid include:
• DEA – aka Diethanolamine is a commonly used foaming agent in toothpaste which has been linked to cancer and hormone imbalance with consistent exposure (like brushing your teeth).
• Fluoride – like I’ve stated above, fluoride is known to be a neurotoxin that really shouldn’t be anywhere near our mouths.
• Propylene glycol – a wetting agent and surfactant that’s linked to brain, liver, and kidney illnesses.
• Sodium lauryl sulfate – often found in toothpaste for its cleansing and detergent-like properties. Is known to be a skin irritant and carcinogenic. Those who get frequent mouth sores may want to avoid this ingredient as it could be the cause.
• Triclosan – classified as a pesticide!? Nuff’ said.
Look for natural toothpastes that contain mineral rich ingredients like clay, unprocessed salt, essential oils, and xylitol.
My favorite toothpaste that meets all of the requirements above is Earthpaste.