Food For Thought
Eat for your teeth
By: Leanne Ely
As we get older, so do our teeth. And the average North American diet is not conducive to dental health. Many of us suffer from enamel erosion and tooth decay, either from our highly acidic diet (carbonated beverages, wine, lemon water, etc.) or from lack of proper nutrition (or a combination of the two). Perhaps you didn’t realize that poor nutrition can lead to tooth decay, but it can. It can also lead to the erosion of that hard outer layer of enamel that makes your teeth white and shiny. When that enamel is gone, your teeth take on a yellow tint and your teeth become sensitive to hot and cold.
Conventional medicine has been telling us for many years that loss of enamel is irreversible. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.
But, there is a substantial amount of research telling us that this is not true, that damage to teeth can be reversed through remineralization.
To fully understand the link between your teeth and what you eat, let’s take a look at the structure of your tooth. Teeth are made up of four layers. The roots of the teeth are coated with a mineralized tissue called cementum. The pulp layer contains the nerves and blood vessels of the tooth. The dentin is a protective mineralized layer of the tooth between the pulp and the hard outer enamel layer. That outer layer of enamel is the most mineralized and hardest layer of the tooth.
Those layers of minerals can only be built from the nutrients and minerals we put into our bodies.
One of the big reasons so many North Americans suffer from poor dental health is because of our nutrient-poor diet rich in white flour and sugar.
When our diet is not high enough in the nutrients needed to grow healthy teeth, that outer layer of enamel will be poorly formed and it will dissolve more easily, allowing tooth decay to settle in.
If your teeth aren’t in great shape, you should take comfort in knowing that it is possible to reverse damage to your enamel by changing your diet. Your teeth are built with minerals and they have the ability to heal themselves with your help. I’ve also read of people actually reversing cavities through nutrition—a concept that most dentists are unfamiliar with!
You can spend the entire day Googling research in remineralizing teeth and I recommend you do because it is absolutely fascinating. But to help get you started, if you’re interested in eating your way to better teeth, I would suggest a diet that includes the following:
• Bone broth (get as much calcium as you can! What better source than bones?)
• Lots of pastured butter because of its high amounts of Vitamin K2, which is key to bone and tooth health.
• Quality cod liver oil, which is one of the highest sources of Vitamin A (also key in tooth health)
• Vitamin D supplements and lots of sunshine! Vitamin D has been shown to reverse cavities and to cause fewer cavities to form.
• Eating lots of animal products including organ meats; full fat, pastured dairy; wild caught fish and pastured eggs. Meat, eggs and fish, along with high amounts of raw and cooked vegetables, will give your body many of the nutrients and vitamins you require for overall health, including dental health!
• No grains! Grains in the diet act as anti-nutrients. When you eat them, those good minerals have less chance of being absorbed by the body.
• No white sugar or processed foods
• Limit the amount of nuts and fruit you eat. Nuts contain phytic acid, which is not helpful for nutrient absorption. Fruit should be limited to one piece per day because it is high in sugar.
A diet like this—high in fat-soluble vitamins—will help you maximize the absorption of minerals in your body. It’s what we all should be eating anyway, really! But by also supplementing with additional vitamins D, A and K2, you will almost surely see a difference in your teeth. Now that’s worth smiling for!