Conventional wisdom tells us that cavities are caused by the sugary residue left on our teeth after eating. Bacteria that live in the mouth thrive on these foods and produce acid as a result. Over time the acids destroy the tooth enamel and lead to cavities and decay. We brush after every meal, rinse our mouths with antibacterial solutions and we have even added fluoride (which should be avoided in the first place) to our municipal drinking water. And after all of these preventative measures, we still get cavities.
The problem with conventional wisdom is its failure to take into account that teeth, like bones, are living organs. In healthy teeth, new dentin and enamel is constantly breaking down and regenerating. With adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals, teeth will constantly remineralize and regenerate. Unfortunately, our diets are riddled with processed and chemical-laden junk food that creates a deficiency of vitamins and minerals (specifically calcium and phosphorus) in our blood. To compensate for this imbalance, our body pulls the minerals from our teeth. Our bodies simply cannot keep up the pace of replenishing cells and we are left susceptible to disease.
What Really Causes Tooth Decay
Sugary foods in and of themselves are not the direct cause of tooth decay, but rather the imbalances created in our body chemistry and blood sugar levels that result from the consumption these foods. Like most disease, the root cause of tooth decay is malnutrition. Therefore, the best way to prevent against cavities and tooth decay is to make sure we provide ourselves with proper nutrition.
Dr. Weston A. Price (1870-1948) is often regarded as a pioneer in making the connection between nutrition, dental and physical health. As a dentist, he observed tooth decay and disease on a daily basis in his practice. In search for the true cause of this degeneration, he began researching primitive and traditional cultures where tooth decay was almost unheard of. When compared to the modern Swiss diet, the isolated Swiss diet contained almost 10 times more fat-soluble vitamins and 4 times more calcium and phosphorus. The native Aborigines of Australia had similar findings with 10 times more fat-soluble vitamins, 5 times more calcium and 6 times more phosphorus than the modern Australian diet. Over and over again, Price found cultures who maintained their native diet had straight, healthy teeth. Those cultures that adopted more modern, Western-influenced diets quickly succumbed to tooth decay and disease.
What Are Fat-Soluble Vitamins?
Fat-soluble vitamins are just like they sound: vitamins that are dissolved in fat. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are all fat-soluble. So to reap their benefits, you have to eat fat. Thanks to the low-fat diet craze, modern diets are severely lacking in fat-soluble vitamins. Especially when compared to traditional societies, modern intake is dangerously low. Thankfully, it’s an easy imbalance to correct by incorporating a few key foods into your regular diet.
Vitamin A can be classified as a retinol or carotenoid. Retinols are sourced from animal foods such as beef, calf and chicken liver; fish liver oils; and whole-fat dairy products. Carotenoids are found in plant sources like dark leafy greens and deep yellow/orange fruits and vegetables. Both are metabolized by the body to create a usable form of vitamin A, but retinols are easier for the body to absorb. In fact, retinols are often referred to as “true vitamin A” since they require such little work on behalf of the body in order for it to be used.
Vitamin D is essential to maintaining normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus and is best sourced from fish, eggs and sunlight. The two common forms of vitamin D are ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and cholecalciferol (vitamin D3). Together they are commonly known as calciferol. Many Western dairy products are fortified with vitamin D, but typically it is D2. Vitamin D2 is synthesized by plants and is not a natural source for humans. Vitamin D3 is the better choice as it is the same form of vitamin D that we get from sun exposure.
To increase vitamin D, simply get outside more. 10-15 minutes of daily direct sun exposure is one of the best sources. If you need to supplement, I recommend Vitamin D3 by Garden of Life, here.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant, is essential for cell health. Even though it is often thought of as a single nutrient, Vitamin E refers to a family of compounds made up of tocopherols and tocotrienols. Nuts and seeds are the best concentrated sources, although it can be found in some whole grains and animal foods.
Vitamin K refers to a group of vitamins (K1, K2, K3, K4 and K5) that are essential for proper blood clotting and plays an important role in supporting bone health. Vitamins K3, K4 and K5 are all synthetic, so it’s best to seek out the naturally occurring vitamins K1 and K2. Chlorophyll in plants are high in vitamin K, so the best food sources are dark leafy greens like kale, spinach and swiss chard.
BBC Health American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine March 1, 2008; 177(5):524-30 Vitmain K and the Newborn Vitamin K Injection or Oral Administration