Did you know that your teeth are a vibrant, living part of your body that reflect the state of your general health? What is exciting about this is that it means you can do something to improve the state of your dental health – and I’m not referring to brushing two or three times a day. Teeth can heal – remineralize – when given the opportunity.
Recently I shared about ds5’s many cavities. I also wrote about my plan to give the kids xylitol water to drink five times a day, after every time they eat, to alkalinize their mouth bacteria. (By the way, since then ds4 and ds11 have had dental check ups – no cavities for either one. Ds5 is our outlier!) Too much oral acid is the cause of all cavities, regardless of any other factors – brushing really isn’t a critical factor in preventing tooth decay. Bacteria can’t survive in an alkaline environment, so this is the first step – kill the bad bacteria. Also, teeth can’t remineralize in an acidic mouth, so the ph needs to be changed to alkaline so that your teeth can absorb all the good nutrients you’re eating.
Next I’ll share about some other things that can be done to help teeth heal naturally.
The first thing is some information that was totally new to me! If you’re familiar with Dr. Weston Price’s work, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration (post with link to free online copy is here), you know that Activator X is the powerful factor that he identified as being responsible for dental health in traditional societies, and this is what we need to have for dental healing. Usually high vitamin butter oil combined with fermented cod liver oil is recommended for your Activator X fix. But guess what I just learned? That Activator X has been identified as Vitamin K2 – Mk4, which is available as a vitamin supplement. Now, doing a little more research showed that although this is the best form to get in your Activator X from food, it’s not the best form to get it from supplements. As far as supplements go, K2 – mk7 seems to be a better choice. (There’s a disagreement on this but I prefer the position found here and you can read up on it if it interests you.) This is something I can order online and have mailed directly to me in Israel, something I can’t do with the fermented cod liver oil and butter oil, so this is a much more doable option for me.
That doesn’t mean that your child won’t still benefit from cod liver oil and butter oil – they will! They both are beneficial in many ways, and if you can afford this, then go for it! Cod liver oil is a great source of vitamin D, among other things, which is important for strengthening teeth.
The next thing I’d like to do is cut down on our bread intake. Since the kids took sandwiches to school every day, bread has become an integral part of their daily diet, and I don’t mean homemade sourdough from freshly ground organic wheat kernels! Far, far from it. For quite some time I’ve been thinking how nice it will be nutritionally once the kids aren’t in school because they can have a higher quality diet than they do now. That begins with dramatically cutting down on bread. The reason for this is that nutrients are absorbed directly through your teeth, so you want to cut out foods that are high in phytic acid at the same time that you increase your intake of high quality foods. (For general guidelines on beneficial nutritional changes to make to benefit your teeth, see my post about how to improve dental health.)
Cutting down on other grains isn’t too hard, since we don’t use that many. We occasionally have pasta, kasha and most often, rice. But we can use more potatoes and squash in place of these starches. My goal isn’t to totally go grain free, just to have a better ration of higher nutrient foods. Although it’s recommended to totally cut out all foods with phytic acid, that basically leaves organic vegetables, meat and eggs and I don’t think that’s financially realistic for most people – definitely not for us at this time.
There are some good nutritional habits that I had for years that I slowly got out of the habit of. It’s so easy to get out of good habits! But to be very fair, not just to myself but to all you moms out there, these are things that take head space and conscious thought as well as time, and often none of those factors are in overabundance. I’ve had way more things that I’ve wanted to do than the physical ability to do them! Not only that, once we moved overseas everything got harder – I spent years finding sources for all the different foods I used, and suddenly was back to square one, with a different language, no car and different product availability to boot! But some of the good habits are just as easy to integrate here as in the US, it’s just a matter of making the effort again.
One of these habits to get back to is regularly fermenting vegetables. I stopped since I don’t have a food processor and when I make a big batch (2 – 4 gallons) of kimchi, it’s a serious time investment. The easy ferments like pickles stopped turning out well (a couple of weeks ago week they turned out too salty, before that they were too mushy) and until recently I didn’t consider it a priority to take the time to figure out what factors had changed and experiment – the time and energy issue again! This is very important for your digestive health, since pathogenic gut bacteria will affect your mouth bacteria and probiotic foods and supplements are a critical part of building up your healthy gut bacteria. (Edited to add: a blog reader emailed me to share that K2 is present in lactofermented sauerkraut, and that adequate K2 lessens the need for supplemental calcium – thanks, Iris!)
Another habit is making bone broth. I stopped with that pretty recently when the weather got hot, but that’s an easy thing to reinstate. It doesn’t take much time or effort to prepare, but it’s filled with minerals and then you can use the broth in anything you cook that calls for liquid to boost the nutritional value.
Something else I’d like to do is give ds5 specific homeopathic cell salts for dental health. Though I purchased these while living in the US and they made the move along with us, giving it to the kids never became part of our daily routine. (Anything that requires me to do something 3 – 5 times a day, and can’t be done at the same time as meals is very challenging to integrate into my daily routine.) The dosage is two pellets, four times a day. As with all homeopathics it’s important not to touch the pellets. Just shake how many you need into the lid and pop them in your mouth. Here are the cell salts that are most beneficial for strengthening teeth:
Calcium Phos 6X – bone health, gives solidity to bones and assists in building strong teeth.
Calcium Fluor 6X – assists with improving enamel of teeth and strengthening bones.
Magnesium Phos 6X – bone development & quick pain relief associated with toothaches.
Silica 6X – assists in building strong connective tissue to support deficient assimilation.
For now I’m not making any appointments to have ds5’s cavities filled (I was told he’ll probably need at least six appointments to take care of them all). It’s possible that it may eventually be necessary to have them filled – I already point blank refused to use amalgam when the dentist brought it up (why in the world are they still using toxic metals to fill cavities when we know so much about how problematic it is???) but there are other reasons that I’d like to avoid fillings if possible. Fortunately with school over I’ll have much more control over what kind of foods everyone is eating.
My goal is to to alkalanize the saliva in ds5’s mouth so that the cavities can heal while at the same time changing the oral conditions that have previously led to cavities for him. The main challenge isn’t knowing what to do, but being able to consistently apply what I know! My life is always very full, but I’m hopeful that I can apply enough of these strategies frequently enough to see positive changes.
(This post is part of Real Food Wednesdays.)