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Health, Home, and Happiness: Holistic dental health

Monday, June 15, 2009

Holistic dental health

When I first got Nourishing Traditions I had to unlearn a lot of what I had just learned a few years prior in pre-nursing school (mainly nutrition and physiology). The main myths that I had believed were

1. A calories is a calorie. To lose weight output must be more than input. (it's a lot more complex than that)

2. A vitamin is a vitamin. Walmart vitamins are just as effective as pricey alternatives or food sources. (more on this here)

3. Teeth are fairly simple, and are only influenced by outside activity like brushing and eating too much sugar.

The dental ideas really were interesting to learn. I had been told that tooth health was dependent on outside influences (brushing, sugar eating bacteria eating away at the enamel) and internal fluoride (Europe doesn't floridate their water or give supplements, yet there isn't the rampant tooth decay there that Americans are lead to beleive would happen without flouride).

Weston Price's work, which is what most of Nourishing Traditions is founded on, suggests that it isn't the topical sugar that is eating away at American's teeth, but it's the lack of good nutrition that weakens the teeth from the inside, making them more susceptible to decay. He agrees that sugar and white flour are bad for teeth, but not because of their contact with the teeth themselves, but because they take up room in the diet where more nutrient dense foods could be.

I was skeptical, honestly, because didn't my dentists and the FDA know what they were talking about? Hadn't they gone to school to become experts on dental health? But as I continued to read more case studies about indigenous people who had never had the 'typical American diet' yet never used fluoride or tooth brushes, or floss, or orthodontists, I was amazed at how they had perfect cavity free evenly spaced teeth.

At this same time hubby and I had been learning about creation science, which opened our minds to the idea that God really did know what He was doing (grin) and cleared up a lot of misconceptions we had about what real science was.

I read about how root canals can be linked (but it's not a proven fact) to many health problems. I have a root canal and I get morning stiffness (perhaps reactive arthritis?) 3 months following the birth of my children, and I also have gotten oral allergy syndrome since having the root canal. Because those are autoimmune responses, and root canals may be linked to autoimmune responses, I thought it was worth looking into.

Because I don't want to do anything drastic based on one person's opinion, I decided to take it slow. I decided that I'd do some less drastic, less expensive, less permanent things first and see if 'these people' really knew what they were talking about. I started by decreasing the amounts of chemicals in our diet, then moved on to focusing on the Nourishing Traditions/Maker's Diet way of eating. I decided that if I had the discipline to actually do this, and noticed a difference at all, I'd consider removing the root canal later.

I've been doing decent on improving our diet, there is still room for improvement, and I'm working on it. I really do notice that we feel better and our bodies seem to work better since following a more whole-foods diet, so to me it's worth it. And 'those people' really do have something going for them.

That's how I got to where I am now. I got one tooth that 'needed' a root canal out on Friday, and I'll get the actual root canal tooth out in September. They're in line with each other, one on the top and one on the bottom, which the dentist said is more than just 'you didn't brush well back there' - I'll look more into that and let you know what I find out. Hubby has two root canals, but he doesn't appear to have any associated health problems, and they're his two front teeth (BMX accident) so we'll leave those alone unless something comes up.

More posts on how I plan to prevent tooth decay in my children through diet, evidence that you may be able to heal teeth through diet, and how teeth are a strong indicator of overall health coming as the kidlets allow me to blog and research.

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Anonymous Donna Marie said...

I am really trying to find out why my one dd(4) has obvious holes in her teeth and no one else does...I wonder if it is linked to c-sections? Once the holes are there anything I can do about it? We have been majorly changing our diets to a more Nourishing Traditions one. funny..I never thought that what I was doing before was at all bad...all from scratch cooking and no artificial anything...I am learning loads!

June 25, 2009 at 12:00 PM  
Blogger Briana said...

We eat the Nourishing Traditions way most of the time and have for about 7 years. Out of our 8 children two have each had a tiny cavity. We never got them filled though. I would rather have their teeth remineralize. So as long as the cavities stay small and the children don't have pain we are leaving them alone. I like to tell people who criticize our avoidance of sugar and white flour about the children's dental health! Oh, and it is not genetic. My teeth and my hubby's teeth are full of fillings!

June 25, 2009 at 3:38 PM  
Blogger Cara said...

Briana, do you take the kids to the dentist regularly? I'm wondering how much I want to expose mine to the x-rays that were always a part of my routine dental visits. At 2 and 7 months we're not doing anything right now but trying to clean up our diets in a hurry :)

Donna Marie, I was told a long time ago that having a high fever when you're young can cause pits in teeth. I have no idea if it's true or not.

June 25, 2009 at 10:08 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

was searching your site on fluoride to see what links you had :-)
The boys found Dr. Dino (Kent Hovine) with my folks and really enjoy listening to him.

November 16, 2009 at 9:08 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

I reccommend healing tooth decay by ramiel nagel. Lots of NT based solutions for healing tooth decay through a nourishing diet. It's helped me.

March 30, 2010 at 5:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your information on fluoridation is inaccurate. France, Hungary, Germany, Spain, and Switzerland all fluoridate their water, just to name a few. Those are the European countries that fluoridate with salt fluoridation, and so the ones I know off-hand.

Water fluoridation actually ever came about because it was observed that children in regions that had naturally fluoridated water had significantly less tooth decay than children in all other parts of the country.

There have been many excellent studies that demonstrate the value of fluoride. Additionally, there have been many great studies that have researched the effects of fluoride on organs (ie several focus on fluoride and the thyroid gland). No effects have been found.

One of the ways that fluoride helps teeth is as follows. Teeth are made up of apatite crystals, which are kind of a base, or functional building block unit. The naturally occurring ones in teeth are hydroxyapatite. Fluoride replaces the hydroxyl ions in the hydroxyapatite crystals, creating what we call fluor-hydroxyapatite. This molecule is much less soluble than the biologically occurring one. Teeth that have fluor-hydroxyapatite are thus "stronger" and less susceptible because they cannot be demineralized as easily. It's totally up to you what you do with you and your children. But you need to know that teeth that have molecules containing fluoride are less easily demineralized than those that don't. Now, if you and your children never eat sugar, than that doesn't matter.

I'd also like to mention that remineralization only works on areas of decay that are not cavitated. What you are calling a cavity is actually a "carious lesion". If those carious lesions are cavitated- the outside layer- enamel- broken, that lesion cannot be remineralized.

Decay does actually start on just inside the surface layer of the tooth. This is because as the inside layers demineralize, some of the minerals being lost get deposited on the more outside layers (the minerals are on their way out of the tooth, but early on in the decay process, they will be re-deposited on a more outer layer). So a person with decay might have a soft inner layer and a solid outside layer. Decay such as this can be remineralized, because the outside layer is still there.

I hope that you do your research on both sides of the line before coming to any conclusions. I too am in favor of natural medicine and always favor a natural remedy over a synthetic one. However, with regards to some topics, the science is too strong to deny.

April 24, 2010 at 7:08 PM  
Blogger Cara @ Health Home and Happiness said...

Thank you for your comment!

I respectfully disagree, I'm going to try and post my findings about fluoride soon. I believe that lacking key nutrients in the diet is what makes teeth susceptible to decay, as we see that un-modernized cultures who still eat all whole foods without fluoride supplementation (and I don't think all of them have unnaturally high levels of fluoride in their region) have perfect, or at least much better than American, teeth.

I know myself, I had fluoride supplementation (tablets and toothpaste) until I was about 13 or 14, and had MANY cavities during that time. Since then, no new ones. My diet is better now, but it's not perfect and I don't stay away from sugar 100%.

I have researched extensively on the issue, and this is the conclusion I've come up with. Interestingly, there seem to be many professional dentists who agree with me! They're just not endorsed by the government/mainstream dentistry.

I do thank you for your comment! It's always good to hear and re-research the other side of the story :)

April 24, 2010 at 7:23 PM  

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