Cavities and Nutrition- What is the relationship?

I read a wonderful post over at Womanly Pursuits the other day, that sparked a renewed interest for me in something I had read about previously, but had not really studied enough yet.

After the discovery of her first ever cavity, she decided to get serious about finding out what she could do to reverse this and prevent future cavities and tooth decay. Here’s what she found:

As I left the dentist office I felt almost helpless in knowing how to
stop any further decay. I already didn’t eat any type of sugar and
white flour and brushed and flossed. Could I do anything else?

Apparently I can.

form partly because you are not absorbing and eating enough of the
right nutrients. If you eat a diet rich in the right foods with the
right activators (activates you absorbing the nutrients) than you can
actually start healing cavities, and preventing future ones. I am
excited about this info because not only could it help me, but it could
help me better serve my family.

Read the entire post here.

I have always struggled with cavities. I had many in my late childhood and early teens, and then at the age of 20, I believe I had around 10 filled over the course of one summer (which ended with all 4 wisdom teeth being pulled- a lovely way to end any summer, I must say).

The reason this post caught my attention so much is twofold. Firstly, because I would like to stop and reverse the damage and weakness that is present in my own mouth, and especially because I want to prevent it in my children’s teeth, so they do not have to deal with it as I have.

Secondly, because in my reading of Nourishing Traditions, which includes many excerpts from Dr.Weston Price’s fantastic studies of traditional cultures all over the world (in the middle part of the twentieth century), I have been intrigued to read about cultures with very little, if any, tooth decay or dental caries (cavities).

In his opinion, as both a dentist (by profession), as well as an avid scholar and researcher in the area of nutrition and primitive diets, he believed that a wholesome, whole foods diet, rich in nutrients such as Vitamin A and D (among many others), from sources like grass-fed butter and dairy, cod liver oil, seafood, etc. were instrumental in protecting teeth (as well as bones).

"Each isolated Swiss valley or village has it’s own special feast days of which athletic contests are the principal events. The feasting in the past has been largely on dairy products. The athletes were provided with large bowls of cream as constituting one of the most popular and healthful beverages, and special cheese was always available…their cream products took the place of our modern ice cream…it is reported that practically all skulls that are exhumed in the Rhone Valley and, indeed, practically throughout all of Switzerland, where graves have existed for more than a hundred years, are found with relatively perfect teeth; whereas the teeth of people recently buried have been riddled with caries or lost through this disease."

"…In Sudan, Egypt, I found considerable traffic in high-vitamin butter which…was being exchanged for and used with varieties of millet grown in other districts…It’s brilliant orange color testified to the splendid pasture for the dairy animals. The people in Sudan had exceptionally fine teeth with exceedingly little tooth decay. The most physically perfect people in northern India are probably the Pathans who live on dairy products largely in the form of soured curd, together with wheat and vegetables. The people are very tall and are free of tooth decay."
Weston Price, DDS Nutrition and Physical Degeneration

Keep in mind that the dairy that Dr.Price is referring to is from grass-fed animals, and is either raw or cultured (ie. yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, etc).

Kimi’s post referred to some great info and resources regarding nutrition for reversing and preventing dental decay. Many of the things my family and I are already starting to do (drink raw milk, have organic butter daily, use a cod liver oil supplement, cook using homemade bone broths), but I’m eager to look into this topic more!

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  1. Stephanie, I have huge problems with cavities, too. I think I remember reading somewhere that your family has problems with gluten. Growing up, dentists wanted to enroll me in studies because they could never understand why someone with good oral hygeine would have such a terrible time with cavities. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with Celiac disease that I found out that gluten intolerance can cause all kinds of tooth decay and gum problems. The reason for that is exactly what you mentioned in your post–not absorbing vital nutrients. When your intestines are damaged they don’t absorb the nutrients properly. And then you end up with tooth decay and other problems like osteoporosis. I highly recommend the book called “Dangerous Grains.” It has a lot of information on the link between gluten and tooth decay.

  2. This post was very interesting to me. My daughter had cavities at a very young age even though she age very healthy, brushed, flossed, rinsed… The dentist always gave me a hard time and made me feel like a horrible parent.

    Fast forward to this year when we found out the my daughter was gluten-intolerant. It turns out that dental issues are one of the signs of gluten-intolerance. It’s really been an eye opener for me and my family.

  3. Hey Stephanie!

    I really enjoyed this post and wanted to thank you for the links to the article. I’ve been researching this same topic for a while after my daughter was born with poor baby teeth. She’s 19 months old and has no enamel (actually there’s some – just extremely miniscule and weak) on her two front teeth. One spontaneous chipped, and the other soon followed, and I couldn’t get straight answers from dentists except for the old “your breastfeeding her is doing it”.

    In ancient cultures, tooth decay was much less common than today and it’s been directly linked with sugars introduced into those cultures. Grace has genetically weak teeth (her father had the same issues) and so after fixing up her two cavities and at first completely eliminating sugar and then allowing it in very small, limited amounts, she’s had great teeth. It’s only those top two that are a problem, but they’ve dramatically improved in strength which is just amazing!

    We’re all natural livers and bakers, so Grace has always been enjoying a variety of fresh and homemade things. We also delayed solids ’til about six months and we are extended breastfeeders. I cannot even begin to extol the benefits of eating healthy – truly healthy, which is chemical-free (unlike the claim that Diet Soda is healthy b/c it doesn’t have calories, know what I mean?). One of my friends actually just told me about the cod liver oil for teeth, so I’m going to look into that. But, by and large, a healthy diet is such a great prevention when it comes to dental health – especially in terms of limiting sugar.

    Thanks for your informative post – I love when I see something dental health related on a blog! :o)

  4. Wow! I think that’s so interesting about the gluten connnection. I never heard that before. I was actually tested for gluten intolerance and that came out negative, so I think my problem is more likely being low on calcium/magnesium and such.

    Lindsay, I am so glad that you are looking into this as well. We will have to share info. 🙂

  5. cavity is a decay lesion or hole in a tooth, usually caused by a diet which includes sugar, which allows bacteria to grow and secrete acid onto the enamel of the tooth. thank you for the post.


  6. You right in the other thing cavities form partly because you are not absorbing and eating enough of the right nutrients,you have a very informative blog. Keep posting!

    by: florence

  7. Unfortunately to read the links to Kimi’s post you have to be an invited reader….I just ordered Ramiel Nagel’s Book “Cure Tooth Decay” and I’m eager to read it. We are dealing with early childhood tooth decay and I want to get a grasp on it so my children don’t grow up struggling in this area.

  8. Thank you, Stephanie! I do have Dr. Price’s book on reserve at the library and look forward to reading it. Love your blog! 😉

  9. Just saw this post at the end of the GAPS one…interesting, too bad I can’t read the link either. I just was told that I have my first ever two cavities. They are apparently very small. I’ve been trying to figure out what I have been doing wrong. I think that for me it might be linked to not enough calcium, and also, the effects of pregnancy, as that really contributes from what I have read. I think some people also just have gentitically weaker teeth for whatever reason. Its a very confusing topic. I am not really sure what I am going to do- I have to call to have them filled. It seems that everywhere I look online you have to sign up for something or buy something to get info. I can’t buy any books right now or into the future now.

  10. It has been found that lemon juice, when applied to the affected area, will help to heal the skin.

  11. I also used to wonder about how people in “underdeveloped” countries can go without visiting the dentist twice a year like I have to (plus I have a power toothbrush, flouride toothpaste and water, mouthwash, floss, and so on)

    I just thought it was because they didnt eat a lot.

    One thing I do want to point out, that traditional cultures, in the Muslim world for example, will use a toothstick made from the branch of a Neem or olive tree – called miswak. This is a traditional religious practice, and is used regularly (5 times a day sometimes)

  12. Hello! This is such a great post! I can definitely relate this post because I’ve had a similar experience. I grew up having really bad and weak teeth. I’ve always known there was something quite not right with traditional methods of brushing, flossing and trips to the dentists, because I’ve done all these all my life, and still kept getting cavities. Then I read about Weston Price’s studies and Rameil Nagel’s book about nutrition and its impact on preventing cavities. I also discovered the benefits of miswak sticks and oil pulling. By using miswak and oil pulling, amplified by nutrition rich in vitamins and minerals (cod liver, raw milk, fresh farm eggs, etc) I was able to CURE my cavities and those of my family’s!

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