We don't usually think of nutrition and lifestyle as having that much of an effect on our teeth. In fact, we are generally lead to believe that dental health is based completely on whether or not we properly clean our teeth and gums. But there is a strong connection.
Were you aware that eating sticky white bread (and other refined foods) provided food for several species of Strep bacteria in your mouth?
Were you aware that when these bacteria get out of hand (out of mouth), they infected your blood vessels, made your blood sticky, and contribute to heart disease?
Were you aware that eating multigrain bread (and other whole foods) provides minerals that were transferred to your teeth via an unstable acid created by your breath and saliva and that this naturally remineralizes tooth enamel?
Were you aware that Dr. Weston Price, DDS, did extensive research in the 1930s which suggests that mineral deficiencies are the real cause of tooth decay, not dental plaque?
Native peoples he examined had no dental caries, in spite of the fact that their mouths were often caked with plaque, because they had mineral-rich diets?
Were you aware that there is enough mercury in a single amalgam tooth filling to pollute, according to official standards, a 10-acre lake?
The commercials tell us that coming home from the dentist with "only two cavities" is good news. Is dental disease inevitable like most people think? If we can heal a bruise, cut and even a broken bone, why can't we heal teeth, or at least do a better job of preventing decay?
The commercials tell us that milk is needed for strong teeth.
But Joel Knapp, DDS, reported that eliminating homogenized milk from his son's diet was the final key to eliminating his development of new cavities. This same dentist says, "We've had a lot of cases of gum disease that had no plaque at all. We found out that the person wasn't eating enough, wasn't getting enough sleep, and was under a lot of stress. There's a lot of gingivitis among people taking exams in college and among people getting a divorce."
You'll hear about all of this and more! So, read on!
In a survey by the American Academy of Periodontology, most dentists specializing in the treatment of gum disease believe that a well-balanced diet, including certain supplements, improves the health of teeth and gums. 75% of periodontists recommend vitamin C to their patients to strengthen connective tissue in gums.
The American Academy of Periodontology, www.perio.org
Gum disease maybe a more serious risk of heart disease and stroke than any other ~actor yet identified including hypertension, smoking, cholesterol, gender and age.
California Dental Association Journal Vol. 28, No. 3, March 2000
In a 12-week pilot study, bleeding due to perionditosis was reduced by an average of 85% using a vitamin, mineral, and amino acid supplement.
Matthias Rath, M.D., Health for the 21st Centurv, 2001
Natural Therapies for the Teeth and Gums
Herbal Packs and Rinses
An excellent way to use herbs to help dental problems, such as bleeding gums, toothaches, poor tooth enamel, gum infections and abscesses, is to apply them topically to teeth and gums using rinses and packs. Packs are made by moistening herb powders with a little water or Vitamin E to form a paste, which is placed against the affected area.
Tinctures or glycerites can also be applied topically by soaking a cotton ball in the solution and applying it to teeth or gums. Essential oils can be diluted in olive oil and applied directly to problem areas. Herbs can also be made into teas or decoctions and used as natural mouth washes or rinses. Tinctures and glycerites can be diluted and used in the same manner. The rinse is usually held in the mouth for up to several minutes and then spit out.
Echinacea provides a 1-2-3 punch for gum problems. Native Americans used it for dental problems including toothaches, sore gums, and "hollow teeth." Echinacea both stimulates the immune system and promotes wound healing. Some species of Echinacea contain a chemical that gives it a "tingly" taste that is a mild local anesthetic.
NSP's Ultimate Echinacea is a liquid prepared from the roots of three species for the best results.
Licorice root has been found to reduce plaque and the development of cavities. It has a direct anti bacterial action, stimulates immune system function, and also promotes tissue healing. It seems custom-made for gum health.
Other tissue healing herbs that have been used in this manner for tooth and gum problems include aloe vera, plantain, black walnut, white oak bark, and alfalfa.
Many essential oils are directly antiseptic and will penetrate tissue to reach bacteria lodged in deeper areas. They are also "warming" and will encourage the flow of oxygen-carrying blood to improve the vitality of cells for improved self-protection and healing.
Clove Oil can be diluted with olive oil and applied topically to reduce pain in teething infants, dental abscesses, or after dental surgery. It is also disinfectant and antiseptic.
APS II with White Willow and Ultimate Echinacea can also be applied to abscesses to help relieve pain.
Diluted Tea Tree Oil is also used to stimulate circulation and fight infection.
Astringent herbs will help to tighten gums and make teeth more firm in their sockets. White Oak Bark (or fresh oak leaves) is a commonly used astringent for bleeding gums and tooth decay. It can be made into a decoction and used as a mouth rinse, or it can be used as a tooth powder for brushing. Leave the herbs in the mouth for several minutes before rinsing to allow them time to work.
Although most of us wouldn't be this brave, herbalist Matthew Wood has applied white oak bark topically to dental carries, and claims they have healed without having to have them drilled and filled. At the very least, this suggests that brushing with white oak bark powder might strengthen enamel and prevent cavities.
Vitamin C for Gum Disease
The lack of vitamin C was a problem for long-distance sailors who would develop scurvy, including loose teeth. According to Robert Genco, D.D. S., Ph.D., chair of the Oral Biology Department at The State University of New York at Buffalo, "The relationship between vitamin C and periodontal disease is likely due to vitamin C's role in maintaining and repairing healthy connective tissue along with its antioxidant properties...
Periodontal disease is an inflammatory disorder that increases tissue damage and loss. Since vitamin C is known as a powerful scavenger of reactive oxygen species, which form part of the body's antioxidant defense system, low levels of dietary vitamin C may compromise the body's ability to neutralize these tissue destructive oxidants."
Vitamin C is actually part of an entire family of related chemicals. The vividly-colored red and blue fruits are very rich in these flavonoid nutrients. Bilberry fruit and Hawthorn fruit are especially well-known to stabilize collagen, the connective material needed for strong tissues.
Enzymes and Coenzymes
Enzymes help vital chemical reactions in the body to happen more efficiently. And any time that the body
is able to do a better job of putting proteins together and taking them apart, it will do a better job of healing. Supplemental proteolytic (protein-digesting) enzymes will improve almost every growth, maintenance and repair function.
High Potency Protease is a powerful source of these enzymes.
Minerals are needed in order for the body to make enzymes. For instance, minerals such as zinc and magnesium are each required for hundreds of enzymes.
Vitamins are "coenzymes." They are essential nutrients that are not manufactured by the body but are needed to work with enzymes to keep us functioning. The best way to assure that you are receiving adequate amounts of these is with a high quality multiple vitamin/mineral supplement such as Super Supplemental.
The Basic Principles of Protecting Your Teeth for the Long Term: Don't Feed The Bacteria that Decay Your Teeth.
The bacteria that causes most dental caries (tooth decay) is Streptococcus mutans. As it happens, S. mutans thrives on sugar and starches. Consider a pastry or typical piece of sandwich bread. These are not only highly refined so that they turn to sugars quickly, but they are pasty and easily pack into the spaces between teeth.
Of course, one could choose to eat foods with more fiber and complex carbohydrates. Next, they should make a habit of promptly brushing and flossing. Information on this is easy to find. And, don't forget to also clean your tongue when you're taking care of your teeth.
The bottom line here is that the less food for the bacteria in your mouth, the less damage they will do. And, as if that weren't enough, the sugar in modern sweetened sodas and other beverages can reduce immune system function by half for several hours.
The Immune System's Role in Controlling Decay
Immune system deficiencies will allow S. mutans bacteria to multiply more abundantly. On the other side of this situation, once persistent infections become established, such as with a buried abscess, they can overload and further degrade immune system function.
Herbs and formulas that support the immune system include Immune Stimulator, Olive Leaf Extract, Trigger Immune, and Echinacea/Golden Seal
Silver Shield [Colloidal Silver] kills one-celled organisms, including a wide range of bacteria, within minutes of contact. It is often recommended for persistent low-grade infections. For a natural antiseptic mouth wash swish and hold a teaspoon of Silver Shield in your mouth for several minutes and then swallow what's left.
Coenzyme Q10 is a vitamin-like substance that occurs in every cell.
It is an important part of cellular energy production. Although it is well known that Co Q10 supplementation increases the vitality of heart muscle tissue, the gums (which are made of very similar tissue) also benefit greatly from Co Q10.
What if, instead of progressive, unstoppable tooth decay, teeth enamel could repair itself? Of course, it would not happen overnight. And, whatever the process, it would have to be strong enough to overcome the existing processes that are contributing to demineralization.
Demineralization is produced by strong, stable acids eating away at the crystal mineral matrix of the enamel of the teeth. These acids can come from acidic foods, but the acids produced by oral bacteria are a much more serious problem. These bacteria thrive when they are fed sugars and starches and when the immune system fails to keep them I under control.
To reverse the process, eat mineral-rich, unprocessed foods.
These interact with carbonic acid, a weak, unstable acid created by carbon dioxide in our breath and water in our saliva. Because it easily converts back to carbon dioxide and water, this acid easily leaves mineral deposits in the enamel.
For this process to work, the proper conditions must be created reliably: Minerals must be richly available in our foods. We must spend enough time chewing our food. The process must not be overwhelmed by acidic bacterial wastes or acidic beverages such as sodas or coffee.
Dr. John Christopher claimed that the mineral-rich herb alfalfa would help to rebuild tooth enamel if the bowel was clean. Many people have found that brushing with a mixture of white oak bark, black walnut bark and alfalfa leaf powders has helped to strengthen their tooth enamel and make their teeth more resistant to decay. These and other mineral-rich herbs can also be taken internally to help jaw bones and teeth repair themselves in cases of severe periodontal disease.
Ionic minerals are also very helpful for gums, bones and tooth enamel. They can be taken internally and also used as a mouth wash.
Did you know that most modern toothpastes contain sugar?
Most also contain fluoride, a substance which has a very negative impact on our health.
For a healthier alternative try Xylibrite Toothpaste. As part of an oral health program, xylitol may help create an unfriendly environment for harmful bacteria and may improve overall oral health. Baking soda and silica powder act as mild abrasives to clean and polish teeth, leaving them smooth and clean. XyliBrite is flavored with natural spearmint, cinnamon and anise, leaving your mouth fresh and minty. Does not contain fluoride or preservatives.
What about Fluoride?
Fluorine is an unstable, highly reactive element. It aggressively binds to minerals to form "fluoride" salts. The forms of fluoride added to treated water will seek calcium phosphate in the body and react with it, becoming calcium fluoride.
Artificial fluoride has been called "the most exclusive bone seeking element in the body."
The result of this chemical reaction is a new chemical structure that truly is harder than the original. On the other hand, it is also more brittle.
Some scientific studies have indicated that fluoridated water does not affect tooth decay rates for permanent teeth. In one study, where decay rates for "baby teeth" was seen to be reduced by fluoridated water, the researchers concluded that the reduced number of cavities was actually because fluoride seemed to delay initial tooth eruption!
Additional documented effects of fluoride include skeletal fluorosis, (which includes abnormal calcium deposits), increased hip fractures, immune system inhibition, and increased risk of bone cancer.
What about Mercury?
Mercury has been used in modern dentistry (since the early 1800s) in an amalgam for filling dental cavities. There is growing concern that, although these fillings are relatively stable, they may release enough mercury into the body to cause health problems. Mercury is toxic. It can suppress immune system function. It is especially toxic to the central nervous system and can cause problems including mental instability, fatigue, weakness, and numbness. It may contribute to demyelinating diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and amyotrophitt lateral sclerosis (ALS). (A "myelin sheath" protects nerves and helps them to function efficiently.)
The nervous system is especially vulnerable to mercury toxicity while it is still developing.
An amalgam filling typically contains about half a gram of mercury. For comparison purposes, that is enough, under existing laws, to contaminate a 10-acre lake and require fish advisories.
There are now many safer alternatives to amalgam fillings. Be sure to ask your dentist about your options.
Heavy Metal Detox is an herbal formula that contains nutrients that bind heavy metals and remove them from the body. A high-fiber diet will also help carry away this and other excreted wastes.Sources: