Naturally healthy teeth and gums have been on my radar of late. One of the “issues” I wanted to help fix when I decided to go paleo several months back was my own dental health. I think I have been relatively lucky for most of my life in this area. I don’t think I even got a cavity until I was pregnant with my third child and if you recall I had cancer while pregnant with him so my body was in serious crisis mode at the time. When I went vegetarian a few years back though my gums and teeth started to decline and at the time I didn’t think it was related. After I started reading up on grains though I started to think that may be the culprit. Even though I tried to avoid becoming a “grainarian” the simple fact is that I ate more grains and junk carbs as a vegetarian than I ever did as am omnivore. This is why I think I started to have issues with bleeding gums, plaque buildup on my teeth, and dental caries (cavities).
The book Cure Tooth Decay (which is completely awesome) discusses how it isn’t specific foods so much that cause decay but instead it is the fact that these foods replace the foods you should be eating for strong healthy teeth. Things like grains, sugar, and other processed foods lack the nutrients and minerals we need and tooth decay occurs because we are malnourished. Healthy teeth will not decay or break down and healthy teeth are created and maintained with a healthy diet.
This book highlights a lot of the work done by Weston A. Price with photos of his findings. If you are not familiar with Weston A. Price he traveled the world looking at primitive cultures and looking at how healthy they were and how healthy their teeth were compared to their counterparts who adopted more modern and westernized diets. The results are shocking. The Aborigines of Australia are one such group studied. Their primitive hunter-gatherer diet of roots, stems, leaves, berries, seeds, bugs, eggs, birds, aquatic animals, and native peas eaten with animal flesh such as kangaroo resulted in zero instances of dental cavities. When the same people started to eat modern, westernized diets… 70% of them had serous dental decay problems.
There are several other cultures featured in the book but they all have some things in common that show us what we need to eat for good dental health. All the groups with little to no dental decay had diets rich in fat soluble vitamins (A,D,E,K) and minerals like calcium and phosphorus. 30-70% of their calories were derived from fat and they ate things like things like grassfed diary, organs and head meat from fish and shellfish, and/or organs of land animals. Grains are generally not recommended because they lack many of these nutrients and they also have anti-nutrients inside them that prevent us from assimilating what nutrients they DO have. Also the modern versions of foods such as eggs are no longer going to cut it. The eggs you can buy at most stores for instance, are sourced from chickens that are fed grains and thus they are the byproduct of malnourished chickens. To get the best eggs we have to buy those sourced from chickens who are allowed to roam on pastures and eat grass and bugs. This is why we will also want grassfed/pastured meat and organs or wild seafood instead of farmed.
The book highlights each nutrient we need and shares the best sources for all of them. I copied the lists on my scanner so I can reference them often. I highly doubt I will ever buy or consume pig’s blood but I will make a special trip to get duck eggs which have about seven times the Vitamin D of chicken eggs. I can also see quickly that turkey liver has lots more Vitamin A than chicken liver. High up on just about all these lists is Blue Ice fermented cod liver oil so that is a must have for me.
The book Reversing Gum Disease is another gem that shows how we should be able to keep all our teeth for our entire lives. Gum disease though often stems from vitamin deficiency that causes bone loss in the sockets around the teeth and also unhealthy gums. When our gums get unhealthy they loosen and develop pockets that allow food to go down under the gum line and cause further bone loss. It recommends supplementing with vitamins and getting plenty of magnesium and zinc. The magnesium part is important because without magnesium we cannot utilize the calcium we need for stronger teeth. It also recommends eating more bone broth and using herbal rinses and toothpastes instead of the harsh chemical ones from stores.
You can also buy supplements specific to dental health like The Dental Essentials. They claim that taken daily, “The Dental Essentials” can help reduce the incidence of cavities by up to 95% in as little as 3 months and this is done with a blend of vitamins and minerals. They also claim that can you arrest decay and remineralize damaged areas without the need for drilling and filling, which I too believe is totally possible. The company sent me some of the pills and the drops to try so from the packaging I can see that they are essentially calcium, phosphorus, Vitamin D3, Vitamin K2, Magnesium, and Zinc. The drops are flavorless and odorless so they are perfect for kids because you can add them to their drinking water, milk, or smoothies.
I really like the idea of their products but I have to assume that the vitamins are synthetic and I would much prefer those sourced from real food. That is my only criticism though. I am taking them along with some other supplements while I try to find some good recipes for incorporating more organ meats.
After 5 months of ancestral eating and nutrients supplementation I have seen some amazing progress in my own dental health. Before I made the switch I was diagnosed with Periodontitis and had pockets of 3, 4, and 5mm. That is pretty severe for those not familiar and I had to have a deep cleaning. This week I went back and the pockets were all 1s and 2s with a couple 3s on my back teeth. My formerly bleeding gums are now pink and healthy looking. The dental caries that my dentist wanted to fill previously are now just being watched. My dentist and I are pleased as punch. My husband has also seen progress. Before going paleo he had a toothache every other month and was told he needed some root canals. He only held off because he hates to spend that kind of money. After going paleo though and eating more pastured meats and eggs and also taking the supplements I give him, he has not had one single toothache. I can only hope that this means they are healing.
Have you had any experience with curing dental decay and gum disease naturally? I would love to hear!
Tuesday, April 10th, 2012