If we can regrow/heal bone, why not teeth?
When I posted this question on Facebook last week along with my story, the interaction and reactions were pretty intense, so I realized I need to blog about not only the aftermath of my little experiment, but my plan from the beginning.
Note: Erm…I was wrong about that opening line.
I was so disappointed in myself when I had a cavity at the dentist’s in January (ok, two…maybe three if you count the one in my wisdom tooth, arg!).
My mouth doesn’t hurt at all, and I was sure I had read stories of people healing their cavities with food. The dentist said that the enamel can regrow, sure. Deeper than that (one of mine was, just barely), no way.
I’m determined to prove him wrong and get the before-and-after X-rays to prove it!
I hate X-rays and avoid them whenever possible, so that tells you how stubborn I’m feeling about not getting them filled yet, much to my husband’s chagrin.
With our new lifestyle as at-home entrepreneurs, we are on our own paying for dental work. In January, we were still covered under my husband’s insurance from his corporate job.
Think I can deduct the follow up X-rays as a business expense?
If I fail, I’ll also have to pay 100% out of pocket to have them filled, so it was a big risk and big decision not to fill them in January when insurance would have paid half.
The Internet Doesn’t Lie
“But I read about it on the Internet!”
That won’t hold much water if this doesn’t work – and it doesn’t for some people – but I read enough stories, some from people I know personally, to be convinced that it’s worth a try, to trust my body to heal when given the right tools and circumstances.
Of course the web is a great resource, but some would say “Dr. Google” is no way to actually make healthcare decisions.
I did enough research to feel confident that a few more months won’t kill me (or my mouth), and I believe strongly in the power of food as medicine. Here’s how I thought it through:
- Learn about what causes cavities (often lack of minerals or too much phytate activity in the diet)
- Weigh my risk factors (heavy)
- Look at the recommendations for healing tooth decay (doable)
- Have others been successful? (yes)
My sources include the following:
- Cure Tooth Decay book (found on Amazon) and website and I’m looking into the Facebook group
- Whole Health Source
- Natural News
- Dr. Axe
Dr. Axe’s post there has a really nice succinct “what to do” list, as follows:
From Dr. Axe:
If you’re going to beat tooth decay, you need to increase your fat soluble vitamin intake and mineral intake. If I were creating an ideal diet to follow, it would look like this:
- Rich in animal foods like bone broth, meat, fish and eggs.
- Raw and cooked vegetables especially green leafy vegetables.
- Raw dairy like kefir, cheese and grass-fed butter
- Fruit one piece daily early in day
- High vitamin D – get plenty of sunshine and days not in sun supplement with 5,000IU daily of D3.
- Foods high in healthy fat like coconut oil (use the code STEWARDSHIP to get 10% off) , avocado, olives and fish or cod oil.
- Fermented grains only and in moderation such as true sourdough bread (or even better no grains at all).
- Nuts, seeds and beans only that have been sprouted.
- Finally, NO processed food, packaged food or fast food.
- Oil Pulling
- Mineralizing Tooth Paste or Powder
My Plan to Heal Cavities
My plan will include all of those things plus a few more recommendations. I made a chart for myself that looks like this:
And I made sure I had supplies on hand, including:
- This cool cavity-healing package (that I put together!) from – including…
- Perfect Desiccated Liver (to get grass-fed beef more than usual; organ meats highly recommended by Dr. Price and the Cure Tooth Decay book)
- Perfect 3 Grass Blend (has many of the nutrients lost through phytic acid)
- Perfect Coconut Oil (for oil pulling)
- Ancient Minerals Magnesium Oil
- Green Pasture X-FACTOR Gold High Vitamin Butter Oil (makes cod liver oil more effective, Vitamin K)
- Green Pasture Blue Ice Cod Liver Oil – Cinnamon Tingle (my fav flavor!)
- Green Pasture Fermented Skate Liver Oil (I don’t have this yet because I had so much FCLO on hand from a bulk order that I, ahem, wasn’t taking until late in pregnancy)
- (FCLO is no longer irrefutably trustworthy, so do your research!)
- You can use the code KS10 to get 10% off the whole package OR any of the individual parts! Shop here…
- Bass toothbrush and brushing blend from Orawellness – have them already, but haven’t used much lately because it’s a bit more time commitment than normal brushing IMO
- Earthpaste to help remineralize – I had been using Earthpaste for a long time, but I’m squeezing MUCH more out nowadays
- Cure Tooth Decay book
- The Vitamin D I take is directly from my doctor, so I trust that’s it’s a good brand. Here’s more about supplementing with Vitamin D.
- The butter is Kerrygold from Costco.
- Yes, I floss, too, once daily.
I’m starting with that chart for a few weeks, and then I’ll add in the “do not eat” list.
My husband is going to do a Whole 30 during Lent, so I’ll be giving up grains and eating only soaked nuts and seeds (if at all) during that time – plus he’ll be off dairy so I’ll drink his share of raw milk and yogurt. Perfect! Find out what we ate at first, and then as we hit our stride, if you’re interested.
Now back to the question of my research, WHY I think I might have gotten these cavities, and why I think I can really heal tooth decay using FOOD!
Recent History Puts me at Risk
I haven’t had a kazillion cavities in my life or a long history of rampant tooth decay.
In fact, over the last 15 years, dentists have been quite happy with my oral health, except for that one dentist and his money machine.
I had two cavities in my childhood and two (small) cavities at the same time in adulthood. The only things dentists like to scowl at me about are my teeth grinding problem and the fact that I’ve kept my wisdom teeth this long. But my general oral health is excellent.
It was a real ego shot, then, to feel like I’m eating a great diet, working so hard to feed my family real, wholesome foods, and then end up with three cavities on the X-ray:
- one in a wisdom tooth that is only partially grown in, a known risk area for decay
- one just in the enamel on a top tooth
- one through the enamel and into the dentin (second layer) but not quite through to the nerve on another top tooth
None of these are on chewing surfaces if I remember correctly.
But as much as I’d like to have a pride trip on my diet, the fact is, there’s been some laziness in both my eating and brushing habits.
I check the boxes on a lot of cavity risk factors, the food ones related mostly to the theory that phytic acid in whole grains, nuts and seeds pulls minerals from the body, particularly affecting the teeth:
- eating more unsoaked whole grains than usual (including popcorn and tortilla chips because they’re gluten-free and easy)
- more chocolate in the past few months than usual
- more unsoaked nuts and seeds than past years
- I make a lot of pumpkin seeds in the fall and am the only one who continues to munch on them – they’re soaked, but I wonder if those thick hulls still have lots of phytic acid!
- shortcuts on beans and legumes, using canned beans not soaked the way I’d do it
- more sugar in general (Christmas!)
- post-partum – being pregnant and nursing can really leach nutrients from a body, especially Vitamin K! Could be Gabe’s fault…
- not brushing my teeth twice daily
- going to sleep soon after eating at my computer (and missing the brushing for various reasons…could be blogging’s fault!)
- grazing on food throughout the day without a lot of breaks (hard on your teeth when they constantly have food on them)
- missing dental cleanings for (cough, cough) two whole years
Let me Explain Myself
That last one sounds really bad, I know.
It’s a no-brainer to take care of yourself and your teeth by making sure you do the basic checkups. Not much excuse when insurance will pay 100%!
When we moved 3 years ago, I went back to the dentist we loved once, and the 45-minute drive with two kids and a baby about did me in.
Not worth it.
Six-ish months later, I went to the next closest “in-network” dentist. There honestly weren’t many around at that time.
He shared an office building (but not practice) with the money machine dentist, who I knew I didn’t want to go to again, but I figured I could try the other guy.
It was a disaster.
He was so disrespectful of anything I had to say about living naturally, and he even tricked me into getting X-rays —
He knew I was nursing a baby and didn’t want to have the wisdom teeth out anytime soon, and yet he said they HAD to get a visual in there with a full head X-ray to see what might be happening inside the wisdom teeth.
“You don’t want them rotting out of your head from the inside out!”
Ok, ok…I acquiesced. X-rays done.
The oral surgeon who would need to take my wisdom teeth out would only accept those X-rays for 6 months without needing new ones, and insurance only pays for a full head scan every 5 years.
I felt like a punch in the gut, like a bait and switch, and I was mad.
I did nothing about it at the time and had no intention of being bullied into having my wisdom teeth out while nursing, but when the 6-month postcards came, I called and pulled out of the practice.
There was no way I could go back to that guy.
I began a search for a more naturally minded dentist, which is extremely difficult to do, even with online connections like I have. It seemed like I would have to drive 45 minutes again, and I just didn’t have the heart to lock that in.
I figured we could miss one appointment and go at 12 months, since we were eating well, etc.
And life gets away from you.
From time to time, I’d have “find dentist!!” on my list, but that undefined target was always the last thing to be tackled. Life got even busier last year with another pregnancy, and I just couldn’t get around to it.
I was a little surprised that it had been a full two years, but I was still hopeful that the kids and I would all come away with clean bills of health.
Yes, for them, no for me. It was embarrassing, but I deserved it.
How Brushing Falls out of Habit
I’m really good at getting my kids to brush their teeth before bed (except for special, rare occasions when perhaps we’re arriving home from somewhere at 9:30 or 10p and they’ve been sleeping in the car) and have a darn good track record at brushing teeth before school.
Some weekends, when we’re all home with nowhere to go, though, that habit (along with getting out of our PJs) can easily get missed. Am I the only one who looks at my kids at lunch on a Saturday and says, “Uh oh, we didn’t brush our teeth this morning!”
Considering that most days, my life as a stay-at-home mom is just as unstructured, breakfast can just run into the rest of the day, and before I know it, it’s dinner.
At the end of the day, sometimes I have a nursing baby on my lap and I’m the only one awake…so I can’t brush or I’ll wake him up. Sometimes I am working on my computer and falling asleep, and I just have to fall into bed and skip brushing my teeth so I don’t wake myself up.
All that mess means that sometimes, to be honest, I bet I didn’t brush at all on a given day.
Too Many Food Shortcuts
Our eating habits are always in flux, from a Standard American, low-fat diet seven years ago to a soaked/sourdough whole wheat, from scratch big change, to adding raw milk and better meats, then about four years ago going “gluten-light,” which completely changed our grains intake once again.
Soaking grains used to be a primary focus of my kitchen, but I’ve let some habits go:
- Some of my gluten-free recipes don’t include soaking, so I just don’t.
- I’m often out of whey for soaked oatmeal and/or end up soaking it for only 6-7 hours because I forget until I’m heading to bed.
- I’ve been missing some soaked rice opportunities simply because I wasn’t planning ahead.
- Gluten-free pasta is made of whole grains and not soaked.
- I add chia seeds to our smoothies – unsoaked – and they’re in some homemade bread and cereal recipes I use. Seeds are supposed to be suuuuuuper high in phytic acid/phytates.
- I still make crispy nuts, but and peanuts aren’t as tasty that way, and peanut butter (mmmmm, apple season!) isn’t soaked either and into
- I have relied more in the past year on “sort of healthy processed foods” a ton more than previous years: crackers packed with unsoaked whole grains and seeds, bars with decent ingredients, but certainly unsoaked nuts, and after Gabe was born I splurged on “sort of healthy” granola – unsoaked oats are some of the worst phytic acid offenders out there. Man, was it delicious…but it could have killed my oral health.
So overall, in the areas of Vitamin D (I’m deficient according to my bloodwork in December, the result likely of living in Michigan and not supplementing properly), Vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, phytic acid, and the darn brushing habit…I have made some poor choices for my teeth lately.
I’m hoping I can turn things around by making not only better choices, but giving my teeth a nearly optimal environment to create new tooth enamel and dentin, for at least six weeks!
What my New Dentist Will Think
I don’t think my new dentist is a super duper “cavity filler” to an extreme. I liked him well enough, but here’s what he said when I asked if cavities could be healed (not a direct quote):
Food eaten has no real impact (on teeth from the inside out, especially healing). Oil pulling is interesting and intriguing, might kill some bacteria, but still shouldn’t be able to actually regrow teeth.
He said that it’s recently been proven that internal fluoride does nothing for dental health and doesn’t prevent cavities – we still leave it in our water to wash over kids’ teeth. (I’m pretty sure it’s not for adults, just for kids. Yuck.)
I asked specifically what the risk would be if my children didn’t have fluoridated water, and he said that kids on well water are significantly more at risk for cavities by Leah’s and Paul’s ages than kids on city water. I didn’t tell him that we take the fluoride OUT of our water as a general rule and they get very little…
So I wonder what he will think when he sees me again in three months for new X-rays and no appointment to fill cavities, in my optimism…
Interested in finding out how it went? HERE ARE THE EARLY RESULTS AFTER 3 MONTHS!!
I told you I read quite a few stories from other people about successfully healing their cavities:
- The Nourishing Gourmet
- Keeper of the Home
- The Paleo Mama
- Wellness Mama
- Ramblings of a Happy Homemaker
- Interesting take on hormones from Nicole Jardim
Is There a HOLISTIC Dentist Hiding In Your Town?
Robyn Openshaw over at Green Smoothie Girl spent months calling every holistic dentist she could find in the U.S! She learned what services each of them provide, and made a special guide so you can find a holistic dentist who uses practices that are non-toxic, so you can avoid heavy metals, root canals, radioactive x-rays, and more.
She’s made all the information she gathered available for free in one amazing resource, The Insider’s Guide to Holistic Dentists.
Other Dental Health Posts:
- My Experience with Oil Pulling – for Sensitive Teeth
- Learn to Brush your Teeth Like an Adult
- Safe Toothpaste – SLS, fluoride, artificial sweeteners, and other things to avoid
- Natural Toothpaste Reviews
- Oil Pulling Successes and Tips
- Fluoridated Water – is There a Safe Level of Fluoride?
- BPA in your Fillings?
Disclosure: Affiliate links in this post to Amazon, Orawellness, Perfect Supplements and more will kick back a commission to the site (but your price doesn’t change!).