After my long-overdue visit to the dentist last week, I was surprised to discover that I developed not only my very first cavity, but three of them! I have always taken my dental health seriously, but with three new fillings in my mouth, I began to question what it takes—beyond brushing and flossing—to keep my teeth truly healthy.
It is no surprise that throughout the last ten years, the level of sugar in our American diets has risen tremendously. According to an article in Parents magazine, 4 million or more preschoolers now suffer from tooth decay—that’s 600,000 more than a decade ago. Apparently, there is one main culprit—bacteria called mutans streptococcus—that damage the structure of our teeth by feeding on sugar remnants in our mouths, producing acid from them and depleting our calcium reserves. As it turns out, brushing and flossing can only remove so much of this acidic bacteria from your mouth.
To limit acidic bacteria and rebuild the enamel of your teeth naturally, follow these tips:
- Avoid or limit foods that cause enamel loss. Examples of these foods are sodas, candy, processed cookies and cakes, coffee, alcohol, tobacco, pasteurized milk, artificial sweeteners, and commercial toothpastes. Andrew MacFarlane, Licensed Clinical Acupuncturist recommends OrmusTech’s Super Clean Triple Mint Toothpaste.
- Realize that cow’s milk is not the only source of calcium. Arguably, it even has an opposite effect on our bones, oftentimes contributing to osteoporosis.
- Eat more calcium-rich food. Kale, sardines, soy milk, oranges, oatmeal, sesame seeds, hard cheese, soybeans, almonds, salmon, white beans, yogurt, dried figs, turnip greens, arugula, broccoli, tofu, and sunflower seeds all contribute to the recommended daily intake of about 1,000 mg.
- Up your intake of Vitamins D, K2, and C. Find Vitamin D in cod liver oil, salmon, tuna fish, egg yolks, and dairy products; Vitamin K2 in meats, poultry, cheese, eggs, and butter; Vitamin C in fruits—particularly citrus ones like orange and grapefruit—and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage and turnip greens.
- Make your own toothpaste. Most commercial toothpastes are full of fluoride, a serious chemical that can cause osteoporosis, thyroid damage, increased risk of cancer and lowered IQ and glycerin, which creates an oily coating on your teeth, shielding calcium and other protective minerals from reaching and rebuilding enamel. For an easy, no-nonsense natural toothpaste recipe, check out this one, courtesy of Family Sponge.
- Eat more sea salt and fermented foods. Real, unprocessed sea salt contains trace minerals—minerals that our bones and teeth need in very small amounts; Fermented foods like kombucha and kefir contain probiotics, which increase the good bacteria in our mouths, balancing out the bad bacteria that damages our teeth.
- Try oil pulling. An ancient ayurvedic method of dental detoxification, oil pulling involves slowly rolling vegetable oil (preferably sesame, sunflower or coconut) around in your mouth, in between your teeth and gums, to gently “pull” toxins out and encourage saliva production. Read more about it here.