Conventional wisdom and childhood trips to the dentist taught us that once a cavity develops, there’s no way to treat it other than having it drilled and subsequently filled with a hard protective material. In recent years, however, nutritional research has yielded discoveries with some exciting implications about our ability to treat and prevent cavities. While most dentistry professionals are still skeptical about claims that people are able to completely reverse their cavities, there is little doubt that there are steps we can take to halt their development and prevent future cavities. Before we can begin treating our cavities, though, we need to understand why cavities happen in the first place.
Cavity Development is Caused by Four Primary Factors
The first of these factors is one we’re all familiar with: sugar consumption (specifically processed sugars). Sugars contribute to tooth decay in two ways. First, they are highly acidic, which causes the enamel on our teeth to degrade. Second, they feed the harmful bacteria in our mouths that cause tooth decay. This acidity in conjunction with greater concentrations of harmful bacteria greatly increases our chances of developing cavities.
The second factor in cavity formation is the consumption of foods rich in phytic acid. Foods such as grains, nuts and seeds tend to have very high concentrations of phytic acid. This type of acid is a mineral blocker, meaning that it inhibits our ability to absorb the minerals in our food and it leeches minerals from our bodies. Bad news for healthy teeth.
Phytic acid’s mineral blocking properties lead us to the third factor in cavity development: mineral deficiencies. The minerals calcium, magnesium and phosphorus are especially important for our teeth. Without these, our teeth become far more vulnerable to decay.
Finally, fat soluble vitamin deficiencies are the fourth leading factor in cavity development. These vitamins are A, D, E and K. Vitamin D is especially important for promoting strong, healthy teeth.
Alright, so we know what causes cavities. Now how do we go about putting that knowledge to work? It’s pretty simple, actually.
Take the Good Stuff in, and Keep the Bad Stuff Out
Do a quick Google search, and you’ll find about a hundred different (sometimes conflicting) homeopathic remedies for tooth decay. Rather than try to sift through all of these to find the few that might actually work, just remember: it’s all about nutrition. Staying mindful of our diet is – aside from regular brushing, flossing and cleanings at the dentist – the single most effective thing we can do to prevent and treat cavities.
We can start by cutting out processed sugars. This will be a tough one for those of us who are especially fond of sweets. As an alternative to processed sugar, try natural stevia and raw honey in moderation instead. If you do succumb to the urge to eat processed sugar, brush and floss immediately after and flush your mouth with an antibacterial rinse. The rinse doesn’t need to be anything fancy; salt water works quite well.
Next, we’ll address the phytic acid issue. The most surefire way to eliminate phytic acid from your diet is to adhere to a grain-free diet. This will help your teeth take in the minerals they need to stay strong. If you do eat grains, stick to the fermented variety like the ones found in sourdough bread. The concentration of phytic acid in fermented grains is far lower.
Now that we’ve eliminated the harmful elements from our diet, it’s time to fortify our teeth with healthy vitamins and minerals. Raw dairy is rich in both Vitamin D and calcium; both essential ingredients for healthy teeth. Of course the best way to ensure you get enough vitamin D is to treat yourself to time in the sun whenever possible. Other foods high in healthy fats are also beneficial such as avocado, fish and cod liver oil. For vitamins, make sure you’re getting plenty of fruits and vegetables, especially the green leafy variety.
Adhere to these nutritional principles and you can greatly slow (and even stop) cavity development. You might miss the sugar now, but you’ll love having strong, cavity-free teeth for years to come.
Modern Family Dental Care offers a multitude of dental services in the Charlotte area. If you’re interested in scheduling a dental consultation, please do not hesitate to contact us.