Renowned dentist Weston A. Price traveled to isolated villages to study the teeth and oral health of inhabitants who had never eaten a Western diet. He noticed that these people had clean, white, and healthy teeth, despite the fact that they had never visited a dentist or done anything special for their oral hygiene. His theory?
The Standard American Diet is wrecking our teeth, and if Americans tried a diet that’s lower in sugar, grain, and processed foods while increasing their intake of healthy fats, our teeth could absorb the nutrients they need to heal themselves and regenerate.
Most dentists would scoff at the idea of trying to heal a cavity that’s already formed. After all, if the damage has already made it through the enamel of the tooth and down to the root, isn’t it too late? Sure, its better to prevent tooth decay right from the start, but according to holistic dentists, it is possible to reverse a cavity without using a drill or fillings. Just like bones and cartilage can repair and regenerate, so can teeth.
So how does it work? First, cut out sugar and starches from any diet. Most dentists encourage their patients to avoid sugar, because bacteria in the mouth feeds on sugar and secretes acid that causes erosion of tooth enamel. Holistic dentists also preach the idea that most Americans are lacking the nutrients needed to protect teeth. They recommend that patients increase their consumption of healthy fat and fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, K, D, and E, as well as increase their intake of minerals like calcium and magnesium.
This diet encourages a process called remineralization. When this happens, teeth are able to regenerate dentin and enamel, essentially filling in the area where cavities grow. For this to work, however, the body needs the aforementioned fat-soluble vitamins, minerals, calcium, magnesium, and a climate low in bacteria to heal itself.
Vitamins A, K, D, and E are fat soluble, meaning they’re stored in the liver and fatty tissues and take longer for the body to absorb than water-soluble vitamins. Eating more foods like cod liver oil, coconut oil, bone broth, fermented foods, and grass-fed dairy can supplement these vitamins. Aim to get a daily dose of sunshine, too, as vitamin D is best absorbed in its natural form.
Though changing your diet will get teeth on the right track to healing, take oral hygiene a step further by practicing oil pulling and rinsing your mouth with hydrogen peroxide. Both of these methods will keep bacteria at bay. It can also be beneficial to brush with a toothpaste that contains xylitol, a sweetener that kills bacteria.
Of course, it's important to still heed the advice of your dentist and get regular checkups. If cavities are preventable simply by adding a few healthy foods into your diet, though, why not try?
Illustration by Foley Wu