In this blog series, I am going to explore whether it is possible to heal cavities naturally with nutrition. I am going to attempt to get rid of the cavities in my teeth by eating nutrient dense foods and avoiding foods that demineralize teeth. If you are interested in learning how to get rid of cavities fast at home or even looking for ways to naturally heal cavities in children, please follow along!
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Cure Tooth Decay Book
I first heard about Ramiel Nagel's book Cure Tooth Decay: Heal And Prevent Cavities With Nutrition a couple years ago, when I was researching homemade toothpaste recipes. The more I researched natural beauty and personal care products, the harder it became to find a toothpaste that I was okay with using. My quest for a truly natural toothpaste led me to the intriguing discovery that our teeth can remineralize and heal themselves. It makes sense. A broken bone can heal and a cut on our skin can heal, so why wouldn't decayed teeth be able to heal?
According the the author, Ramiel Nagel, when our teeth remineralize, they can build secondary dentin to protect the inner tooth pulp, and holes can become sealed with a new layer of hard enamel. Holes in the teeth probably will not fill in, and even after remineralizing, a dark spot may remain on the tooth.
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What Causes Cavities?
In order to understand whether it is possible to heal cavities with nutrition, let's first define "cavity" and then look at the underlying cause of cavities.
What is a Cavity?
As defined in the Cure Tooth Decay book:
"A cavity is an impairment in the tooth structure that creates sensitivity to the environmental forces in the mouth such as saliva, foods, and chewing. A cavity is any structural weakness in a tooth that causes the tooth to function improperly."
Do Sugar, Bacteria and Acid Cause Cavities?
Modern dentistry is based on the belief that tooth decay is caused by bacteria (specifically Streptococcus mutans). The bacteria eat food that is stuck to our teeth, such as sugar, and produce acid. The acid dissolves our teeth and causes tooth decay.
In order to prevent cavities, we are told to care for our teeth in a way that reduces these bacteria in our mouth. Dentists instruct us to brush our teeth, rinse our mouth with mouth wash, and floss between our teeth.
However, the dentist who postulated this hypothesis in 1883, W. D. Miller, further explained that a healthy dense tooth could resist this acid indefinitely, while a weakened demineralized tooth would succumb to the acid.
The Root Cause of Cavities is a Lack of Nutrition
The underlying cause of tooth decay is actually poor nutrition. When our body gets the nutrition and trace elements it needs, allowing our hormones to function properly, our teeth are flooded with a mineral rich liquid that cleans and remineralizes our teeth. This is the way our body naturally maintains healthy teeth and wards off decay. However, when our diet does not provide the nutrition we need this system stops functioning.
Dentist Weston A. Price
In the early 1930's Dr. Weston A. Price, a prominent dentist, set out to study traditional cultures and find the secret to preventing tooth decay. It was fortuitous timing, as Dr. Price was able to compare the health of groups who had recently switched from traditional to modern diets. His findings were published in the book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.
Dr. Price found that tooth decay is due to the lack of nutrients in our modern diet.
Deficient in Fat Soluble Vitamins
The nutrients in which our modern diets are most lacking are fat-soluble vitamins. This is not surprising, after all the advice we have been given to eat a low-fat diet.
Dr. Weston A. Price found that traditional cultures which were immune to tooth decay ate daily from at least two of the following three categories:
- Dairy products from grass-fed animals.
- Organs and head meat from fish and shellfish.
- Organs of land animals.
Modern diets lack fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), especially those found in animal fats. If we start eating fat soluble vitamins again, we can heal and prevent cavities!
Ratio of Calcium to Phosphorus in the Blood
Eating sugar is bad for our teeth, but the reason why is not as simple as sugar sticking to our teeth, bacteria eating that sugar and producing acid, and our teeth dissolving. There is a lot more physiology to it. Here's the basic concept: Spikes in your blood sugar levels pull calcium from your bones or teeth and throw off the ratio of calcium to phosphorus in your blood.
Maintaining stable blood sugar levels and the proper ratio of calcium to phosphorous in the blood can prevent tooth decay.
Learning this helped me view the connection between sugar and cavities in teeth differently. I had always worried about eating foods that coated my teeth with sugar, and made sure to brush my teeth well afterward. Now I am focusing more on eating meals that are high in protein, fat and vegetables, and snacks that are high in protein and fat. Eating protein with each meal or fat along with naturally sweet fruit helps to balance blood sugar levels.
Taking on the Challenge to Heal my Cavities Naturally
My First Cavities were Heartbreaking
I got my first cavities when I was twenty-one-years-old. I was devastated. Those first couple cavities may have been related to the experimental year that I ate a vegetarian diet, which was high in grains and low in vegetables. Snacking on toffee probably didn't help either...
I made it through my entire childhood without a cavity, and I always wondered if there was something in the natural spring water we drank growing up that kept our family from getting cavities. We would get stains on our teeth from the water, but the dentist was able to scrape them off. Perhaps it was just the mineral content in the real spring water that kept our teeth healthy.
After those first two cavities and fillings, I got another very small cavity that the dentist was able to scrape out, without filling the hole. I still have the tiny hole on my tooth.
Healing Cavities from Pregnancy
Years later, when my son was about two-months-old, I went to the dentist for a teeth cleaning. The dentist told me I had two small cavities, but that we could wait to fill them, since I was breastfeeding. (I don't think he realized that I planned to breastfeed for at least two years.) Each cavity was on the farthest back molar, one on either side of my mouth. The cavity on the right side was visible as a circle the size of a pencil tip. The cavity on the left tooth looked like brown discoloration in the crevice on top of the tooth. Neither decayed spot caused me pain. As a new mother, I barely had time to brush my teeth, let alone get dental work done, so time went by.
A couple years later, the cavities were about the same size and did not cause any pain. The decay may have arrested, possibly because I stopped eating grains other than white rice shortly after giving birth. I debated whether I should try to heal the cavities at home naturally with nutrition. On one hand, I had dental insurance at the time, so it was a good time to have dental work done. On the other hand, if I had the cavities in my teeth filled, I would miss the opportunity to allow them to remineralize. The decay, plus some of the healthy tooth, would be drilled and replaced with a big filling. But if I first tried to get rid of the cavities at home and it didn't work, I could always see a dentist later.
I have decided to go the natural route and put the dietary protocol recommended in the Cure Tooth Decay book to the test. Let's find out if I can cure tooth decay with nutrition!
The decayed holes in my teeth are probably only within the enamel, so I am hoping to grow a new layer of enamel over the cavities.
Foods I Should Not Have Been Eating
Before and during pregnancy I was unwittingly eating foods that were damaging my teeth. Whole grains, nuts, and also legumes contain an anti-nutrient called phytic acid. It is considered an anti-nutrient because phytic acid binds with minerals in your digestive tract and holds on so tightly that the minerals are unavailable for your body to use.
While pregnant I ate oatmeal every morning for breakfast. I was relying on the advice of my nurse practitioner and breastfeeding resources that touted oatmeal as good for breastmilk production. It was also one of the few foods I could keep down with severe morning sickness. My husband was learning about the Paleo diet and warned me that oatmeal contained phytic acid, but I didn't realize the importance.
The Cure Tooth Decay book mentions studies conducted in the 1930's showing the connection between diet and cavities in children. When the researchers wanted to cause more cavities in one group, they added oatmeal to the diet of those children. To decrease cavities, they gave other groups fat soluble vitamins and eliminated grains.
Oatmeal was shown to have a devastating effect on teeth.
Great, so I had been eating the quintessential cavity-causing grain!
At the start of my pregnancy, my husand and I were still eating whole wheat pasta, thinking it was healthy. Near the end of my pregnancy we phased out grains other than white rice, as we moved towards a more Paleo diet.
While pregnant and breastfeeding, I also snacked on large quantities of nuts, including almond butter and occasionally chocolate covered almonds. Turns out that almonds with the skins have high levels of phytic acid. Now I try to stick with macadamia nuts, which are one of the lowest in phytic acid. But I still have a tendency to over do it when snacking on nuts.
My Mouth before Starting the Teeth Healing Diet
Before embarking on this teeth healing journey, I took a close look at my mouth. I had always felt lucky to have fairly straight teeth, without ever having had braces. But now I realize there is so much more to the health of ones teeth than just how straight they are! The health of my teeth and gums was much poorer than I had been aware.
- My gums bleed easily, especially when flossing.
- My teeth are transparent at the tips and my canine teeth are yellowish.
- Some teeth have chipped, including front right, top and bottom.
- I have a small cavity on the farthest back bottom molar, on each side of my mouth. (The cavity on my right tooth appears bigger in person than in this photo.)
I have hope for being able to heal my cavities naturally, since the decay and holes are small and not progressing.
However, near the end of the book, Nagel mentions that if you clench or grind your teeth at night, then the healing process may be very slow, if at all. That is a let down, since I do clench my teeth at night. But I still have hope!
Follow My Journey to Heal Cavities Naturally
Follow my journey to see how my teeth and gums progress and whether I am able to heal my cavities naturally with nutrition! My next post will lay out my plan of How to Get Rid of Cavities at Home Naturally.
Do you think it is possible to heal cavities naturally with nutrition?