It breaks my heart when people begin “eating healthier” and then develop cavities or discover that their young child’s teeth are decaying. From dealing with my own son’s decay, I understand the gamut of emotions this evokes. Often, what we think is healthy or good enough just really isn’t so.
It is disheartening when I see people spending thousands of dollars on traditional dentistry when there are natural ways to heal tooth decay and cavities. Books like Nutrition and Physical Degeneration and Cure Tooth Decay are widely available now and give great information about the science behind tooth decay and the nutrients necessary to heal. Here is a little cheat sheet of great ways to re-mineralize your teeth–these tips have the power to heal other health issues as well!
Ditch the Sugar
One of the most damaging things for teeth is sugar. It’s negative effects include loss of calcium and magnesium and can lead to headaches, leg cramps, tooth decay and even osteoporosis. It also depletes vitamin C, which is necessary for tooth and gum health. This includes mineral-rich sugar and substitutes as well, such as sucanat (Rapadura), coconut sugar, maple syrup and raw honey.
Sugar also includes fruits, especially the sweeter ones. These healthier forms of sugar can be included in moderation, but in cases of rampant decay and cavities it is best to exclude them from the diet for at least a few months so the body can benefit from more nutrient-dense choices and use all the nutrition it gets to repair itself. Whenever fruits are included, you will want to eat them raw and pair them with lots of healthy fats.
Avoid grains and grain-like seeds
This is a hard one for many. You may have gotten used to eating rice for dinner practically everyday as I did. You may think of corn as a vegetable and think it is one of the healthiest things you can eat even though it is known to cause pellagra–a form of malnutrition characterized by niacin deficiency. You may be a bread addict like I was. Perhaps you are sold on the benefits of quinoa, not realizing that the Incas and other cultures who ate it traditionally would have went to great lengths to make it nutritious.
You’ve got to ditch the idea that grains are good for you, at least until you get your decay under control. After that you may be able to include soaked, sprouted and sourdough grain products with plenty of healthy saturated fats. Sourdough bread tastes better and reduces sugar, as well as many of the anti-nutrients in grains.
It is also important to note that from an anti-nutrient perspective, whole grains are actually worse! Most of the toxic chemicals are concentrated in the germ, and traditionally most of it would be removed and thrown away.
Reduce anti-nutrient intake
While some of the anti-nutrients we come across on a daily basis cannot be entirely avoided (nor should they be!), we can make steps to decrease them in our diet. Anti-nutrients are things like phytic acid, lectins and oxalates. They are found in plant foods and may help protect the plant from predators. They are toxic and may even cause death in excessive amounts.
Anti-nutrients also bind to minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and iron which can contribute to weak teeth and bones and cause teeth to look translucent. In these cases the need for nutrients like magnesium and vitamin K2 are greatly increased.
Decreasing anti-nutrients in our diet gives our body the best ability to restore itself and build up mineral reserves. Some of the foods highest in anti-nutrients include grains, beans, nuts and seeds. Oxalates are especially high in spinach, rhubarb and many nuts. Tea, coffee and wine also contain substances that can inhibit nutrient absorption.
Brush with healthy alternatives to toothpaste
How we clean our teeth is an important thing to think about when trying to heal decay. We want to avoid toxic and harsh chemicals like fluoride and alcohols. We also don’t want sugar hiding in our toothpaste. Some of the best choices for dental care are the most simple ones!
Brushing with edible clay helps to bind bacteria, yeast and toxic buildup. Brushing with coconut oil provides many of the same benefits as clay, but also works similarly to oil pulling. We often use a mix of coconut oil with a little baking soda in our house, it keeps our teeth clean and white!
Make fermented veggies and take probiotics with soil based organisms (SBOs)
Fermented foods are often one of the things people embarking on a real food diet shy away from. Maybe because the idea of making food sit out makes them uncomfortable, or because they believe they will not like ferments. Both are things that need to be worked through for optimal health and digestion.
There are many benefits to fermented veggies, ranging from living enzymes and probiotics to increased nutrient profiles of the foods that are fermented. They also help to increase stomach acidity (which aids in protein digestion) and cleanse the gut.
Probiotics with SBOs (soil based organisms) can also enhance nutrient assimilation, and create lactoferrin (important for iron absorption) and K2. I recommend them in addition to fermented foods. These are best taken a few minutes before a meal, and we should aim for quarter to half cup of fermented foods at least three times per day.
Serve your veggies with plenty of fats
We cannot discuss healing teeth without stressing the importance of serving vegetables with lots of healthy fats. Vegetables are important raw, cooked and fermented for helping to cleanse the body and providing enzymes and a wide range of antioxidants. For that reason, we should try to eat some vegetables that are prepared in each of these ways with all of our meals. It could be as simple as a few slices of raw cucumbers and a couple tablespoons of sauerkraut along with shredded zucchini scrambled eggs.
The nutrients in vegetables unfortunately aren’t well absorbed without pairing them with healthy fats. Thankfully, adding some healthy saturated fats improves the taste of veggies and helps make it an actual pleasure to eat them. The types of fats that are crucial to eat with vegetables include coconut oil, butter, tallow, lard or bacon grease, and other animal fats. I’ve heard that duck fat is especially delicious! Drizzling good quality extra virgin olive oil on top before serving is a great practice, and will also offer other benefits to the body.
Eat, or drink, raw pastured egg yolks
Egg yolks have been compared to mother’s milk, and with good reason! They are nutritional powerhouses and have all the fat soluble vitamins as well as many other vitamins and minerals. They are good sources of trace minerals such as molybdenum, iron and zinc which contribute to healthy teeth.
Raw pastured egg yolks from happy hens are the best for us, as heating does damage some of the nutrients. How many should you eat per day? As many as you can afford to! Raw egg yolks are easily digested and the saturated fat and cholesterol are very good for your body. One of my favorite drinks with breakfast is raw eggnog with 3 yolks.
Use bone broth, every chance you get!
I am happy to see bone broth gaining in popularity. It is so simple to make, yet it is packed with nutritious elements. It is especially beneficial when things like chicken feet are added–this increases broth’s gelatin content which helps to strengthen the gut so that the nutrients have the best chance of being absorbed.
Calcium, magnesium, silica, boron, zinc, iron, molybdenum and pretty much all the minerals play an important role in dental health, so it is very important to get these from a bio-available source. Bone broth is one of the best sources and is easy to incorporate into dinner. Use it anywhere you would use water or store-bought broth!
Include milk kefir, pastured liver and nettle infusions
Milk has long been revered as a life-promoting substance, it is a pity that modern methods of sterilizing it has led to it becoming such a pariah. In the past, fresh and fermented milk was used in abundance by cultures who had access to it.
Raw milk straight from the cow is full of vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, probiotics and enzymes. The whey in dairy has a substantial amount of glutathione, the master antioxidant, in a very bio-available form. Whey protein powders cannot compare because they have been heat treated, likely more than once. When protein is not balanced with healthy fats, it can also be detrimental to health.
Fermenting dairy increases the nutrients in it, for example milk kefir is higher in B vitamins including folate, as well as vitamin K2. Butter, yogurt, sour cream (we use kefir grains to make ours and it is delicious!), ice cream, whipped cream… they are all full of important nutrients for our health. Fermented cream is especially beneficial for building strong enamel.
Liver is especially high in vitamin A, B vitamins, and iron, but is also loaded with many other important nutrients including molybdenum, iron, and selenium. Eating an ounce a day will help ensure quick results when healing decaying teeth, and will also provide the body with lots of energy.
Nettle infusions provide the body with many vitamins and minerals that are easy to absorb because it is liquid. It also helps with allergies!
Take Fermented Cod Liver Oil (FCLO) and High Vitamin Butter Oil (HVBO)
These real food supplements are full of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K2 necessary for teeth and bone health. They also have numerous other benefits in the body, including supporting brain development and fighting inflammation. I recommend taking each three times daily when dealing with active decay.
A child can take ¼-½ tsp for each dose, while an adult will need a tsp or more. Pregnant, breastfeeding and tandem nursing moms will have an increased need, especially if the babies are close in age, multiples, previous children had tooth decay, or mom is new to a real food diet.
These fat-soluble vitamins help form a healthy, wide palate and reduce the risk of needing orthodontic work to fix crowding, gaps, malocclusion and other maxillofacial deformities. These amounts can be reduced to once or twice per day after a few weeks.
One note of caution: more sensitive individuals should start with smaller amounts and work their way up.
Need more information? I got you covered!
- Where to get more information on the Healthy Mouth Summit.
- Where to get state-of-the-art information on keeping your mouth healthy.
About JoJo is an attached mom to her smarty-pants son and a full-time student majoring in Public Health. She is fascinated with holistic healing and loves to read, cook and watch Grey’s Anatomy in her spare time. She blogs at Nourishing Time about natural ways of improving health through food and positivity.