Tooth decay is very common with approximately 92% of adults (ages 20-64) having had dental cavities, and it seems like we hear more and more about children undergoing dental procedures. What if there was something more we could do besides brushing and flossing to prevent this? Would you like to avoid those extra trips to the dentist and the pain that often comes with teeth issues? Well, then check out these 3 nutrition tips to heal your teeth naturally!
1) Eat to balance your hormones
More specifically limit your sugar intake! When we consume too much sugar, the hormones that control teeth mineralization get out of whack. The parotid glands are located in our jaw, and these glands are in charge of tooth remineralization. They release a hormone that stimulates the movement of mineral rich fluid through our teeth to clean and remineralize them. The parotid glands receive communication from the hypothalamus gland (located in the brain), and this communication gets disrupted when a poor diet is consumed. If the fluid is not moving as it should, food debris and other matter gets pulled into the tooth and tooth decay can spread to the enamel.
Another reason to limit the sugar in your diet is to avoid the blood sugar spikes that lead to minerals, like calcium and phosphorus, getting pulled from the bones. We can think of sugar as an “anti-nutrient” because we actually use up minerals to digest it!
I often get asked the question, “Should I avoid fruit?” Fruit has a lot of great nutrients, however, for someone with bad cavities, it would be best to avoid fruits, especially those higher in sugar like pineapple and bananas, and all sweets completely. Once the tooth decay has healed, some fruit can be reintroduced.
For all you sugar lovers out there work on breaking the sugar habit by including healthy fat into your diet. Many of us are still following the “low-fat” model, which has caused us to remove healthy fats from our diets and replace them with sugar and starches.
2) Eat nutrient dense foods
Key nutrients are needed in our diets to prevent tooth decay. These include calcium, phosphorus, vitamin A, and vitamin D. Food based forms of these nutrients is best since that is what the body recognizes.
One great way to get in bone building minerals to your diet is through bone broth. This can be a base for a soup or you can drink it plain (1-2 cups per day). Organ meats are another great source of nutrients. These are not included in many people’s diets for various reasons such as having an aversion to the taste or believing these are not healthy to eat.
Liver is one example of an organ meat packed with nutrition including vitamins A and D. Vitamin A helps the body use calcium, and vitamin D helps balance the ratio of calcium to phosphorus to stop tooth decay. Vitamins A and D also produce osteocalcin, which deposits calcium and phosphorus into our bones.
My two tips for consuming liver: 1) find a local farm that has pasture raised animals to ensure the liver comes from a healthy animal, and 2) to remove some of the strong liver taste, soak the liver in milk for at least 1 hour before cooking. Since I started doing this, I am able to enjoy liver much more frequently in my diet. You can also sneak organ meats into dishes such as meatloaf.
Cod liver oil and good quality butter also provide excellent nutrients to support the health of your teeth. Many people have had success consuming raw milk to help reverse tooth decay. Milk contains calcium and phosphorus, and the fat portion (the cream) has vitamins A and D. Please note, the pasteurization process kills the enzyme phosphatase, which is needed to absorb the calcium from the milk, which is why many people trying to cure tooth decay choose raw milk over pasteurized. Tip: If you decide to look into the raw milk, find a local farmer with pasture raised animals.
Lastly, we need good gut health to absorb the nutrient dense foods we eat. This includes having sufficient stomach acid as well as good bacteria in our gut. Apple cider vinegar is something that can be added to the diet to help your stomach produce acid, and fermented vegetables, such as sauerkraut or kimchi, are probiotic-rich foods that help supply the body with good bacteria.
3) Soak grains and legumes to reduce phytic acid content
For bad cavities, I recommend removing grains completely from the diet or keeping them to a minimum due to the phytic acid they contain and their effect on blood sugar. Phytic acid limits mineral absorption and that is the last thing we want to do when trying to rebuild bone! When you do have grains in your diet, soak them to reduce some of the phytic acid content.
For example, it is easy to prepare oats: soak them in filtered water overnight along with some fresh lemon juice. Then, cook them up in the morning. Some other foods you can soak overnight to reduce phytic acid content include nuts, seeds, beans, and lentils.
For the full article about this topic, click here. Remember, the key to good dental health is to eat a nutrient dense, hormone balancing diet!
Nagel Ramiel. Cure Tooth Decay: Heal and Prevent Cavities with Nutrition. Ashland, OR: Golden Child Publishing; 2012.
Fallon S. Nourishing Traditions. Washington, DC: New Trends Publishing; 2001.
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Dental Caries (Tooth Decay) in Adults (Age 20 to 64). September 5, 2014. Accessed July 11, 2015.