Healing Dental Disease with Food

Barbara Tritz
· April 16, 2018 ·

9 minutes

Oral wellness is not just about the toothbrush and floss you use (or don’t use).  This blog post is part III of Dental Nutrition.  The fact that food is medicine struck me as I read about what food, vitamins, minerals, and other supplements do to help us stay healthy.  Unhealthy food contributes to an unhealthy body, which can include dental diseases.   It was almost like entering a secret world.  I admit I’m not as savvy as I should be about food and nutrition so it was interesting to learn how these nutrients can change your health for the better.  I’m excited to share these tidbits, they are truly yummy…

First,  a Quick Review

As we have discussed before, Periodontal Disease ( I.E. gum disease) is an infection and is a serious medical condition that we treat within the dental world.  In my previous blog post (Take a Bite Out of Dental Disease With Nutrition), we talked about how one of the causes of gum disease and tooth decay may well be the result of a digestive problem connected to what’s termed “Leaky Gut” with resulting autoimmune issues.  This autoimmune disease can then show up in the mouth via bleeding gums or cavities.  My references discuss how to improve your gut health by eliminating (among other things) grains and carbohydrates.  Both Dr. Lin and Dr. Danenberg’s books discuss this in great detail.  I’ve seen with my own eyes two patients who went from heavily bleeding gums to pink and healthy over a three month period by changing their diet and eliminating carbohydrates.  (There was more to their healing but diet played a huge role in it.)  It made me a believer.  Food is medicine.  If we really want to be healthy, we must commit to healthy, nutrient-dense foods.  Heal from the inside out!

What Else is Needed For Oral Health?

My big question – in addition to changes in our food, what vitamins and other supplements can help improve our oral health?  I’d not been a big supplement person, thinking a  diet with good food, minimal sugars/desserts would be sufficient to get all the nutrients I would need to be healthy.  BUT! Not so!  Here’s why:

Much of our food is grown in soil depleted of nutrients.

Our crops are sprayed with glyphosate

Our meats are not any healthier

I had just trusted that our food was healthy but hmm… it’s interesting to learn it may not be so.

Before starting any vitamin/supplement program, see your medical provider and be tested so you know what your body actually needs and can then supplement accordingly.  This blog post is for information only and does not constitute medical care or advice.

Dem Bones

Fats, Vitamins, Minerals and other Nutrients

What do these supplements have to do with oral health?  They are the building blocks we need to improve our digestion, and make our immune system function properly.  Your teeth need for you to have a strong immune system.

Tooth parts

Layers of the Tooth

The inside of your tooth consists of a layer of tissue called dentin.  (I colored it green.)  Dentin is softer than enamel and its job is to protect the pulp which has the nerve and blood supply of the tooth.  The tooth is truly alive – it is always working to repair itself.  Cells called odontoblasts build and maintain the dentin, as well as releasing immune cells to fight infection.  Your tooth works hard to protect, build, and repair itself from a bacterial invasion into the pulp.

The following supplements are important for helping your body make and keep strong bones and teeth.  Healthy bones keep your teeth in your head.  Good bone support contributes to optimal growth, straight teeth, good facial proportions, wide facial development, and a long straight nose.  Food is medicine, use it wisely!

Vitamin D3

Vitamin D is important for bone health, but did you know your teeth need it as well?  Its actually a steroidal hormone.  It manages your immune system and determines which stem cells from your bone marrow become bone-forming cells, blood cells or immune cells.   Low Vitamin D levels have been linked to a risk of tooth decay in children and gum disease in adults.  It supplies our teeth with calcium. Vit. D has so many other functions throughout the body such as  preventing many cancers, slows aging, improves gut health, and influences metabolism.  Most pregnant women are Vitamin D deficient.  Vitamin D is a potent antibiotic as well as helping prevent colds and the flu!

Sunshine is your best source of Vitamin D but, if you’re like me and live in cloudy, gray, and cooler areas, you’ll most likely need to supplement your Vitamin D levels.   Most adults need between 400 to 800 units  per day , depending on how much sunshine you get, your age and skin color. This is the recommendation of the Endocrine Society  and pertains to bone health only.  Other disease may need more D3 so stay tuned as more research comes out.   We get maybe 300 IU per day from food.  That’s a severe shortage.

BUT wait, there’s more!  In order for D3 to work properly, it needs:

Vitamin K2

K2 was the subject of last weeks post- The Untold Tales Of Tartar The Tooth.

Vitamin K 2 tells the calcium in the blood where to go.  If there’s a deficiency of K2 then all that calcium ends up on your teeth (in the form of tartar) instead of in your teeth and bones.  Yes,  an ah-ha moment once again!  Why didn’t I know this 30 years ago?  I could have saved myself and my patients much scaling distress by discussing nutrition early on!  However, most folks don’t even know about K2!

Vitamin K1 helps with clotting but Vitamin K2 ,while having a similar molecular structure is not the same.  It’s job is to activate two proteins – osteocalcin and matrix GLA-protein.  These proteins direct calcium into the bones or teeth.  It also REMOVES calcium from the arteries, preventing hardening of the arteries.  K2 also prevents kidney stones and gall stones.  Even more interesting, a deficiency in K2 may be the cause of a deviated nasal septum.  A deviated septum promotes mouth breathing which then results in an underdeveloped upper jaw, and a resulting lower jaw and  …”ta da”…crooked teeth.

Good sources of K2 are organ meats,  eggs from pastured-raised chickens, shellfish and emu oil. (This from the guy from Australia.)

Research says suggested daily doses of K2  of 90 mcg for women and 120 mcg for men.

Vitamin A

Anyone familiar with Dr. Westin Price‘s work will recognize Vitamin A.  Traditional diets ( i.e. local diets that eat seasonally available foods) are centered on a foundation of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts seeds, herbs, spices, and other plant foods. eating this way provided the proper levels of all these fat soluble vitamins for healthy beautiful teeth.  Not so anymore.

It’s found in animal products, as well as fruits and vegetables.  Signs of Vitamin A deficiency include:

  • Poor eye health
  • Chronic gut
  • Dry, thick or scaling skin
  • Macular degeneration
  • Dry mucous membranes
  • Weak fingernails
  • Low vitamin D levels
  • Respiratory infections

Remember that leaky gut is a contributor to gum disease and tooth decay!

Vitamin A works by helping osteoclasts break down bone.  Breaking down old bone is part of bone development.  Then osteoblasts can make new bone.   Vitamin A is important in many other areas of the body as well.  It’s vital to immune health,  proper fetal development, as well as vision, liver, and brain function.  It’s an antioxidant and is considered an anti-aging vitamin!  It works together with Vitamin D.

According to Dr. Lin’s research -adults should aim for 10,000 IU per day.  The best source of Vitamin A is fermented cod liver oil.  Egg yolks and organ meats are also good sources.

Magnesium

Magnesium

An extremely important mineral for oral wellness is Magnesium (Mg).  Mg creates energy within the cell, allowing  calcium to enter the cell and then ushering it out when no longer needed.  This prevents excess calcium buildup within the cell.   (A Mg deficiency has so many consequences– click here too- like migraines, osteoporosis,  clogged arteries, and painful menstruation – it’s worth reading.)  Luckily, there is magnesium in dark chocolate and almonds, my two favorite food groups 😉  Most folks have a deficiency of Mg but an excess of magnesium is not good either so be sure you check your blood levels.

It is important in gum health.   Magnesium may prevent or slow periodontal disease.  I’m for that!  Also, the greater the amount of magnesium in the tooth, research show that they less tooth decay.

According to Dr Lin the proper amount of Mg is between 240 mg to 400 mg for adults.

and then there’s:

Zinc – The Miracle Mineral

This one also blew me out of the water – Gingivitis and bleeding gums may be a sign of zinc deficiency.  Even if your oral hygiene is excellent, a zinc deficiency may cause bleeding gums!  Gums need proper zinc levels for wound healing.  It works with Vitamin A to get it into the blood to fight inflammation.

Zinc is a mineral that helps with so much!

  • Strengthen your immune system
  • Fight inflammation
  • Boost growth
  • Promote wound healing
  • Skin health and aging
  • Fight colds and viruses
  • Keeps your metabolism healthy
  • Improve your taste/smell
  • Improve blood clotting
  • Balance thyroid function
  • Sexual health
  • Hormone balance
  • Fertility

It is of course best to get your vitamins, minerals and supplements from the foods you consume.  Animal products and oysters are great sources of zinc.  Again, important to be tested to see what your current levels of all these products are and adjust accordingly.  Overdosing on zinc is not healthy either.

Boron

Boron is another unknown but important trace mineral that is vital to oral health.  It’s needed for reducing inflammation and oxidative stress.  It helps your body to absorb magnesium.  Boron also works with your bone building cells – the osteoblasts.  It’s vital for wound healing, clear thinking, preventing painful menstruation, balancing hormones,  and muscle building.  It prevents Vitamin D deficiency.

Calcium

Calcium builds strong teeth and bones, but it doesn’t work as well alone.  You need Vitamin D3 as well as K2 and all the other “tag-alongs” discussed above.  If you only take calcium, you may have too much floating around in your blood, your arteries and on your teeth.

Salt

Pink Salt

Pink Himalayan Salt, my new fav

Whoa, what’s salt doing on this list?  I’m not talking about the table salt we all grew up with, that’s sodium chloride and heavily processed.  Instead, I’m discovering natural salt such as Pink Himalayan rock salt.  It’s full of the trace minerals our bodies desperately need.  New research has disproved the connection between high blood pressure and salt intake.  So dive in for improved vascular health, better sleep, balanced electrolytes, improved cognitive abilities, reduced muscle cramping and staying hydrated.

Rinsing your mouth with salt water helps with gum health and balances pH.  How’s salt water for a natural, chemical free mouthwash!?!  Use daily and be well.

Nutrition Awareness/Food As Medicine

Now that you have this information, what the heck do we do with it in order to have great oral health?  Getting these nutrients from food is best.  Heal from within.  Food is Medicine.

#1.  Eat locally sourced foods -know where your meat and fish is from.  Pastured raised chickens and meats are better for us.

Food is Medicine

Healthy Foods is Medicine

#2. Those green leafy veggies – yes,  again, from those local farmer’s markets.

#3. Ancestral eating- Dr. Westin Price was correct- read his website.

#4. Full fat foods such as coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, seafood, whole fish, raw butter and organ meats have many of the above mineral and nutrients you need for total body health.

#5. Fermented foods – food preparation is just as important as the food itself.  The fermentation process produces valuable nutrients. Grains are more digestible after fermenting.

#6. Eliminate processed foods.  The fewer the ingredients a product contains, the better.  Watch for hidden sugars.  Read those labels and be a food detective.

#7. Cheap food may not really be so inexpensive in the end.

Folks more knowledgeable than I have given me recommendations for quality brands of the above supplements.  I am happy to share with you if you would like to email me.

Learning More About Food As Medicine

There’s so much more, I can hardly do it justice.  I would encourage you to read:

Dr. Steven Lin’s – The Dental Diet 

Dr. Alvin Danenberg- Crazy Good Living

Ms. Carol Vander Stoep – Mouth Matters

Dr. Robert Thompson – The Calcium Lie

 

Til Next Time!  Heal from the inside out.

Be well, eat healthy, keep smiling,

Barbara Tritz

Your Oral Health and Wellness Coach

Hello, I'm Barbara Tritz

Unveiling the Stories Behind Dental Hygiene

Loving science, especially biology, from an early age, Barbara is a registered dental hygienist, certified biological hygienist, and orofacial myofunctional therapist. In 2019, she received the Hu-Friedy/ADHA Master Clinician Award from the American Dental Hygienist Association.

Share your thoughts below!

2 Comments

  1. Allison

    This is also a good read. “Cure Tooth Decay: Heal and Prevent Cavities with Nutrition” by Ramiel Nagel

    Reply
  2. nataliajon

    You shared such an informative blog seriously. Its completely showing how much good knowledge you have in this field and more of it you are sharing your knowledge . I really appreciate your efforts for spreading awareness & wish you all the best for your coming posts.

    Reply

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