How to prevent tooth decay
In this blog Dr Rachel Hall Holistic dentist discusses:
How To Avoid Tooth Decay
To avoid cavities and keep your teeth a dazzling white, you know you need brush them twice a day, floss, and step away from the lollies and sweet snacks or drinks. So it’s frustrating when you follow this standard dental advice but you still get tooth decay.
I see so many patients who are upset as they think they are doing the best they can and can’t understand why they have decay and need yet another filling. Well as I explain there’s more to taking care of your teeth than brush floss and don’t eat sugar, and what you eat plays a big part.
It’s possible to build and strengthen the enamel in your teeth, in a process known as tooth remineralisation. This means you’re adding minerals to your teeth, not losing them, which makes teeth prone to cavities.
So how do you remineralise teeth? By tweaking your diet and adopting certain habits, you’re a few steps away from a healthy smile and strong, cavity-free teeth for life.
What causes tooth decay?
Your teeth are made up of various tissues, including enamel, which is the hard outer part of the tooth. Enamel is full of minerals, primarily calcium phosphate. When dentists talk about tooth decay, they’re referring to damaged enamel and destruction of tooth structure.
Tooth decay occurs when your enamel loses minerals. Here are some things that will leach minerals from your teeth:
How to remineralise teeth?
Tooth remineralisation is an organic process that works to help repair enamel before cavity forms.
Keep in mind you can only remineralise teeth, to a point.
You can only reverse the decay and remineralise a tooth when the decay is still in enamel. If a cavity extends beyond enamel, it can no longer ‘heal’ or remineralise on its own. At that point, the cavity will need to be treated by a dentist.
So how do you remineralise teeth before it’s too late? Diet plays a big role, as the right nutrients in your saliva can prevent cavities and remineralise teeth.
Other habits like coconut oil pulling and taking probiotics, also strengthen teeth.
What Stops Teeth Remineralising
Cut down on foods that contain phytic acid.
In cultures that eat certain diets tooth decay is rare - a diet rich in whole foods, namely fatty meat, organ meat, wild-caught fish, whole milk dairy products, tubers, vegetables, and fruit supports low rates of tooth decay.
Our western diet contains a lot of grains, processed foods and empty calories – all of which reduce mineral content, mineral uptake, increase acidity and inflammation in the body – a perfect storm for tooth decay as well as other chronic ill health issues.
Grains and legumes contain phytic acid, a so-called “anti-nutrient” that binds to minerals like iron, zinc, and calcium and stops you from absorbing them. Go grain and legume free for a while to cut down on phytic acid and boost your body’s chances of absorbing key minerals.
Focus on nutrient-dense whole foods instead, mainly:
Heal your gut
Probiotics — the good bacteria in your gut — can prevent and even reverse teeth demineralisation, particularly in the early stages of decay. That’s no surprise, since scientists are learning that almost all diseases can be linked to gut issues.
Probiotics reduce the number of mutans streptococci, a type of mouth bacteria that plays a big role in tooth decay. Probiotics also keep your gut healthy, and a thriving microbiome means your gut is better able to absorb nutrients and minerals from food.
The most critical aspect of remineralisation is pH (acidity levels). If the gut is not properly functioning, the mouth will become acidic. As long as the mouth is acidic, ions (minerals) are moved out of the teeth, and erosion of enamel and dentin occurs.
Studies show that the probiotic strains most beneficial for oral health are:
Choose a high-quality probiotic supplement that contains some or all of these strains.
Get enough vitamin D
Supplementing with vitamin D is one of the top biohacks you can do.
Vitamin D is a vital nutrient but most people aren’t getting enough of it. Vitamin D acts on over 1,000 genes in the body and helps build strong bones, joints, and teeth.
A meta-analysis of 24 clinical studies found that vitamin D might prevent cavities from developing. (Vitamin D also plays a crucial role in the prevention of gum disease).
Most studies use a dose of 800 IU of vitamin D3, or 3,750 IU of vitamin D2.
Consider supplementing with vitamin K2 — it helps your body better absorb vitamin D. Try a combination of vitamin A-D-K as these fat soluble vitamins work as a unit together.
Swish with baking soda
Baking soda has long been used as a natural remedy to whiten teeth, its a common ingredient in toothpastes and teeth-whitening products. It also helps keep teeth clean, and clean teeth lower your chances of developing cavities. I recommend swishing one tablespoon of baking soda mixed with a cup of water daily. I do NOT recommend brushing your teeth with it as it can be abrasive like sandpaper and actually damage your tooth enamel – the very thing you are trying to protect and make stronger.
Baking soda is alkaline and will help neutralise acid and remineralise tooth enamel.
Try coconut oil pulling
Oil pulling is may strengthen teeth and gums, and freshen breath (however a good essential oils, alcohol free mouthwash can do the same). Studies show that the oil clears away harmful bacteria in plaque and saliva.
Swish one tablespoon of oil in your mouth, much as you would a mouthwash, for 5-10 minutes a day. Coconut oil contains high amounts of lauric acid, which is antimicrobial.
What about fluoride?
Dentists tend to recommend using fluoride toothpaste, since fluoride, a mineral, when applied directly to the enamel can help remineralise teeth. But as fluoride can disrupt thyroid hormone production and high doses damage brain function it may not be as beneficial overall as it is made out to be.
Reduce Your Risk For Cavities
If you implement the suggestions I recommend, like changing your diet and supplementing with vitamin D, you’ll need to rely less on fluoride to keep your teeth strong and cavity-free. And the majority of my patients are using fluoride toothpastes, drinking fluoridated water and still getting tooth decay due to lifestyle and nutritional issues so you can draw your own conclusions on that one.
Tooth decay can be prevented but as I said earlier brushing and flossing and avoiding sugar alone is not enough. You must nourish the teeth and your gut and provide the right environment to keep your teeth strong, healthy and cavity free.
Want to know more – then call to book a consultation and comprehensive dental check today. 07 3720 1811