Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
2 Jun

How to Take Care of Your Teeth (Hint: There’s More to It Than Brushing)

brushingteeth2I get a lot of questions about dental hygiene and health, and for good reason. Dental records of our paleolithic ancestors show a fairly low incidence of caries when compared to modern teeth. Exceptions exist, but the general trends suggest that Grok had better teeth than the average contemporary human. Of course, when cavities struck back then, they hit hard and got really ugly, because there were no dentists, drills, or x-rays to fix the problem, but most never got to that point. Also, the adoption of agriculture is generally associated with the emergence of poor dental health, so much so that many researchers use the appearance of dental caries in a population as strong evidence for the presence of farming. Maize/corn is particularly bad, as is wheat, but the same relationship may not hold true for rice agriculture in Asian records.

Okay – let’s take a look at a couple common questions I get about dental health:

Mark, this morning as a dental assistant was making my head buzz and my gums hurt with some sort of ultrasonic tooth cleaner, I thought, “what can Grok teach us about tooth care?” Something tells me Grok did not brush his teeth–did he do anything to take care of himself in that way? And if he survived just fine, what does that tell us about “conventional wisdom” that says we should adopt a routine, and buy a medicine cabinet full of stuff to take care of our teeth? I certainly don’t mean to convey that tooth care is bad–but rather am just thinking about what we can learn from the past to harmonize the present.

Thanks for reading this, and thank you for your dedication to better health!

Hey Mark! I’ve recently taken an interest in making my oral regimen more Primal. I’ve read up on a lot of the more natural toothpastes and toothpaste alternatives but I’m undecided. What have you and your wife found to be the safest and most effective way to keep your cavities at bay?? Thanks!

Before resorting to anything reactive, whether it be brushing with homemade toothpaste, dousing your oral cavity with anti-bacterial mouthwash, bypassing the teeth altogether with an IV nutrient feed, or using a dental dam to chew, those seeking excellent dental health should establish a strong dietary foundation of the minerals, micronutrients, and other cofactors that play major roles in the maintenance of teeth.

The Vitamin D/A/K2 Connection

You’ve probably heard about how this holy trinity of micronutrients works together to promote proper bone and tooth mineralization, which means putting calcium and other minerals where they belong (bones, teeth) instead of where they don’t (arteries, dental calculus/plaque). Both Stephan Guyenet and Chris Masterjohn have written extensively about the synergistic interplay between the three nutritional factors, so I’ll keep this brief. Get adequate midday sun or take vitamin D supplements; eat grass-fed butter, hard cheeses, and organs (especially goose liver, apparently), or supplement with vitamin K2; get plenty of vitamin A from liver, egg yolks, and other animal products.

Grain Avoidance

I probably don’t have to tell you to avoid grains, but for any newcomers who might be reading: ditch the grains, beans, and other legumes that contain high levels of phytic acid, which is known to bind to and prevent absorption of minerals critical for dental health. Nuts also contain phytic acid, but we tend not to eat as many nuts as grains or legumes due to the caloric load. It’s a lot easier to eat two cups of whole wheat than it is to eat two cups of almonds. If you do eat nuts on a regular basis, consider soaking and/or sprouting them to reduce phytic acid content.

Nutrient Intake

It’s not enough to consume the holy mineralization trio and avoid excessive amounts of mineral-binding phytic acid; you also need the raw building blocks. That means getting plenty of minerals in your diet. Leafy greens, grass-fed meat, organs, nuts, roots, and tubers are all good Primal sources of calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, and other vital micronutrients – vital for general and dental health – so eat plenty of them.

Hate the Toothbrush? Use a Chewstick.

There are numerous examples of traditional cultures using chewing sticks from trees with medicinal or antimicrobial properties, like the neem in India, the miswak/arak in Africa, the Mid East, and Asia, or the tea tree, which I mentioned in a previous post. Here’s an example of a Masai “toothbrush” – it’s a whittled-down branch from a (perhaps medicinal) tree with the end frayed and the fibers splayed out to permit interdental entry. If you don’t have access to a miswak, neem, or tea tree, you can find chew sticks online quite easily. Toothpicks or floss will also work pretty well as a physical deterrent, albeit without any medicinal qualities.

There isn’t a ton of head-to-head research on the subject, but one study from 2003 found that miswak chewing sticks removed more plaque and resulted in better gingival health than toothbrushes. The caveat is that chew stick users had to be instructed in the proper use of the implements, whereas toothbrushes are fairly straightforward (not to mention most of us have grown up using them, so we’re well-versed in toothbrushing). It’s notable that chew sticks do not require toothpaste, and they appear to be just as, if not more, effective than toothbrushes. Longer history of use, too. You just have to know how to use it. Miswak appears to be the most studied, so you’ll probably want to use that variety.

Toothpaste

toothpaste

If you’re gonna use a toothbrush, do you need the paste? If so, is Crest/Colgate/insert-mainstream-paste-here good, or should you go with an herbal/alternative/insert-paste-available-at-Whole-Foods-here instead?

Toothpaste use increases abrasion during brushing, while water alone produces less abrasive force. Interestingly, the same study revealed that softer toothbrushes actually cause as much abrasion (and sometimes more) than stiffer toothbrushes. While increased abrasive forces seem like they’d reduce more plaque, that doesn’t seem to be the case. A recent study found that the brushing is the important part, not the paste. In fact, brushing without paste was more effective at removing plaque than brushing with paste.

An herbal toothpaste made from herbs and plants traditionally used to treat oral disease in India was superior to a placebo toothpaste in the treatment of gingival bleeding and oral hygiene. Another study compared herbal toothpastes to conventional fluoride-containing toothpastes in the treatment of established gingivitis and found that both were equally effective.

In another study, a baking soda toothpaste beat an antimicrobial non-baking soda toothpaste in plaque removal and tooth maintenance. Most studies, in fact, show that baking soda is more effective at plaque removal than toothpastes without baking soda. It’s pretty common among older folks to just use straight baking soda to brush, and this seems to be an effective tactic.

If you’ve got all the nutritional and environmental cofactors under control, I don’t think obsessive dental hygiene beyond daily brushing (remember, even if the bristly toothbrush is a recent invention, cleaning our teeth with sticks or picking at them with fingernails is tradition), some toothpicking/flossing, regular dental visits, and/or maybe some chew sticking is necessary. It doesn’t even seem like toothpaste is necessary for good oral health. That said, I do use it – perhaps because I’ve just become conditioned to, or maybe because I need the artificially fresh feeling it provides – but I also don’t feel the pressing need to brush on schedule. I just don’t develop a ton of plaque if I go a bit longer than normal without brushing, nor do I get bad breath. And as anyone who’s been married for more than ten years will tell you, the wife will definitely let you know if things go awry in that area. If you want a cheap toothpaste that isn’t overly sweet, baking soda should do the trick.

How do you folks take care of your teeth? Do you do anything special? Do you have a favorite toothbrush, paste (or paste recipe), or chewing stick? Let us know about it in the comment section!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. 48+ years w/o a cavity so far (knocks wood) and I can only say one thing: FLOSS. If you’re not doing it you’re wasting your time w/ everything else.

    IvyBlue wrote on June 2nd, 2011
    • Yes – agree completely! I floss agressively every night and I haven’t been to the dentist in over 15 years!

      GWhitney wrote on June 2nd, 2011
    • I only brush my teeth several times a week (I just don’t seem to need more than that) but I use flossers after every meaty meal.

      DeyC3 wrote on June 2nd, 2011
      • From my research, brushing actually isn’t necessary if you aren’t eating a lot of starchy carbs. This is because it is mostly the sugars in them that convert into the harmful bacteria that we need to brush off to keep cavities at bay. Just another reason to limit the grains!

        Shamra wrote on June 3rd, 2011
        • Yup. I noticed that when I went primal all that tartar and stuff disappeared. When I started eating more grains again for a short period of time my teeth would get worse again. I could go a couple days without brushing my teeth while completely Primal and not have enough plaque buildup to bother me (and it doesn’t take a lot to bother me.)

          Vivian wrote on June 5th, 2011
        • I agree. Surely it’s not natural to be scrubbing your teeth each day. I mean you wouldn’t wake up in the wild and think “right, id better go scrub my teeth. I would have thought that a grain and pulse free diet rich in nutrients would be sufficient enough to cut out teeth cleaning. well like most things I encounter I guess ill never have a solid answer about it. I might go and look up those chew sticks though.

          James wrote on November 16th, 2012
    • Damn… To be honest I am not sure why but I have never been a flosser.

      Honestly… I havent flossed in probably about 10 years or so. I just never wanted to take the time to do it.

      I brush thoroughly and have always had positive remarks about my teeth from the dentist and orthodontist. And, I have never had any cavities in 23 years of existence…

      I bought the chewsticks online that Mark recommended!

      Primal Toad wrote on June 2nd, 2011
      • I too never floss, I just hate the feeling of it. I haven’t for years. I only brush once a day with tooth paste that contains bakingsoda. After 28 yrs of living I have never had a cavity or any other oral problem. My poor wife on the other hand flosses everyday, brushes 3 times a day and her teeth are falling apart! weird.

        Kevin wrote on June 3rd, 2011
        • Must be genes. I’m not one to floss much either.

          Tim @ Best Workout Routines wrote on June 5th, 2011
        • Ack! Her teeth might be falling out because she’s abusing her gums. Brushing is good, but 3 times a day is too much!

          Mallory wrote on August 31st, 2011
        • There might be something different with your wife’s oral bacteria population than yours. My son started getting cavities very early-like one year old! The first pedi dentist I took him to told me it was my fault for continuing to breast feed him, such an “old baby” . Needless to say, I dropped that dentist. Lots of searching on early childhood caries ( ECC) brought me to Kevin Hale, a pedi dentist. Found a great article in “Mother” or “Mothering” magazine, and ! his office was 45 minutes away. My son (11 as of this post) still goes to him and guess what? No more cavities!
          Here’s what I found.
          Kevin told me that studies show that about 80% of cavities show up in about 20% of the population. It seems to depend on the type of bacteria in your resident mouth flora. He recommended three things. One-get rid of any cavities. They are breeding pools for the bacteria that cause them. Two-lay off sweets and sugary stuff, especially right before bed (duh). This did NOT include breast feeding! He said (yay Kevin!) that if night breast feeding caused cavities, our cavemen ancestors would have died out because all their teeth would have fallen out young from dental disease. Third, he told me to keep my son’s mouth clean and to use a mildly sweet solution of xylitol to do it. Since then, no more cavities! I use a mint or a stick of gum myself after eating (most of the time!) and myself have had no new cavities since then. Kevin said there’s a peculiar property to xylitol that when the bacteria eat it, they lose their ability to cling on to whatever surface they’re trying to stick to and can be easily rinsed away. He said that he was one of these people who could skip brushing regularly and never get a cavity, while his sister brushed after every meal and flossed religiously, yet got cavity after cavity. When he became a dentist, he wanted to find out why and this is what he came up with.
          I am very new to PB, just starting my third week, hence this very late reply to your comment. I hope this is old news to you by now, but if not, try the xylitol mints and gum. My dentist’s office has lollipops and hard candy made with the stuff, which I’ve never tried ( like the mints/gum, never been much of a hard candy eater) so I can’t personally attest to their efficacy, but stuff is out there. Good luck!

          BJML wrote on May 28th, 2012
        • Actually it really depends on the individual. Baking soda could be very bad for the teeth and for example my husband has serious problems with his teeth because of baking soda in tooth pastes… It really depends on the actual teeth.

          Rositsa Neame wrote on May 28th, 2012
  2. I’ve often wondered whether toothpast and conventional brushing was worth it. Glad to see you address this issue! I’ve not, to date, found good randomised double blind placebo controlled studies validating toothpaste or specifically a toothbrush.

    My further 2 cents is that i’m sure one of those “chew sticks” would be easy as piss to make and probably calming to munch on. Prehaps mixing some wood hurd with a few oils and some baking soda or something?

    Thanks for the post and the interesting links,

    Sam

    SamBryson wrote on June 2nd, 2011
    • At this point I only brush for appearance’s sake. I know it looks nasty when there’s plaque on my teeth and I don’t want bad breath. That’s it; I wouldn’t bother otherwise. And despite the fact I do not brush three times a day (I’m lucky to get it in twice), what tooth decay I’ve had has been very slow. I have two fillings in my mouth and I’m 37; I’d have five if I had kept my two upper wisdom teeth and another molar. That’s it though. No caps, no bridges, no periodontal disease, no nothing.

      Dana wrote on June 2nd, 2011
  3. Really cool hygiene info here, Mark. I’ve used a brand of herbal toothpaste derived from Neem trees, mentioned in this post; I found it to be to be very effective, to my surprise.

    The most interesting thing in this post was the information that brushing without toothpaste may actually be better for plaque removal than brushing with toothpaste. That’s a shocking discovery.

    Jeremy | Art of Lifting wrote on June 2nd, 2011
    • What’s the brand and where did you find it? Definitely interested in maybe switching on and off with this and my new favorite baking soda toothpaste.

      Nutritionator wrote on June 2nd, 2011
    • I also want to know where you bought it. I used to use coconut oil/baking soda but now I just use baking soda. Its very tolerable and works great!

      Primal Toad wrote on June 2nd, 2011
  4. I agree, Jeremy, it is SHOCKING. Pretty much everyone believes that we should brush our teeth and use a toothpaste for that.

    I sense that I should make a short experiment and ask my girlfriend for feedback while doing so. What happens if I brush my teeth without using any toothpaste? If there’s no issues with how my teeth look and how they smell, I’d say it’d be a good idea to ditch the toothpaste. I’m using it a lot and I’ve always sort of questioned the idea. We are grown from childhood to do it and it would be incredibly odd to change it right now.

    “Plaque reduction with dentifrice was 57.35% and without dentifrice was 66.19%.”
    “Dentifrice use does not enhance plaque removal when used in conjunction with a toothbrush, and instead, may marginally lessen the brushing effect.”

    It’s amazingly surprising that using toothpaste may actually worsen the effect of brushing your teeth. I would understand if it had no effect, but worsen! Really? Pretty damn interesting.

    Does anyone have any experiment tips?

    Risto wrote on June 2nd, 2011
    • My cousin teaches at a major dental school and was involved with the studies that showed dry brushing to be more effective than brushing with paste.

      One of the reasons was that people are simply more conscientious about how they are brushing in the absence of paste so the lack of paste may or may not be intrinsically good.

      Sorry, no links at the moment but it is easily Googled.

      IvyBlue wrote on June 2nd, 2011
    • I’ve been making my own remineralizing toothpaste for a while (just posted on this recently) and using that in conjunction with a D/A/K2 regimen similar to what Mark recommended. The toothpaste is designed not to be abrasive and to provide the minerals so that teeth can remineralize from the outside once the body has the proper nutrients inside. I’ve definitely noticed that my teeth are much whiter, my breath is better and most surprisingly, my teeth are not sensitive for the first time in my life (and I used to use Sensodyne!)
      I’ve also gotten less worried about going to the Dentist as often when he commented the last few times that I must be doing a much better job of brushing and flossing because there was no plaque buildup on my teeth…
      I’d definitely encourage ditching the store bought toothpaste and using either a homemade one, plain baking soda or just dry brushing!

      Katie @ Wellness Mama wrote on June 2nd, 2011
      • What’s your formula?

        Leaf Eating Carnivore wrote on February 20th, 2013
    • My whole tooth soap journey started as an experiment. I was a single mom without dental insurance just looking for a way to get my teeth cleaner than with traditional toothpaste. It just wasn’t cutting it. I started with bar soaps and good old Dr. Bronner’s. They worked well but tasted terrible.

      So I started hunting for a mild flavored castile-type liquid soap without glycerine, but ended up learning how to make my own from olive & coconut oil. I then developed a tooth polish made with calcium, xylitol, bromelain and lots of peppermint oil (to help mask the soap taste)…combined them on the brush and there you have it. It got really popular among locals, and now I make it full time.

      Visit SuperHumanNaturals.com to learn more about all the ingredients etc. Hope this has been helpful!

      Sherri Black wrote on August 7th, 2014
  5. I suspect that toothpaste was first marketed as a way to make brushing less unpleasant by masking the taste. I used to brush pasteless, now use an Ayurvedic toothpaste but will probably go back to bare brushing once it runs out. Anyway, miss a couple of days and the taste will make morning mouth taste dandy in comparison. Especially if you’re eating a bacteria-friendly diet full of sugar and carbohydrates.

    Andrea Reina wrote on June 2nd, 2011
  6. This question has been on my mind for quite some time now, and I’m glad Mark finally addressed it.
    Thank you, Mark. Great post.
    I’ve recently looked at some of those widely-available RDA level charts on toothpastes, and was pleasantly surprised that streight baking soda has the lowest RDA score on the list.
    Most main stream pastes like Crest score very high, even though some of them were specificaly for sensitivity.
    By the way, it’s almost impossible to obrain an RDA score on a Crest paste other than the few that have been posted a long time ago. I’m sure they don’t want dental professionals and users know just how high it really is.

    chocolatechip69 wrote on June 2nd, 2011
  7. Oh, here the link to one of those RDA charts in case anyone was curious about their favorite paste.
    http://www.satyen.com/toothpastes.shtml

    chocolatechip69 wrote on June 2nd, 2011
  8. I think baking soda can be a little too abrasive. I used it for a while and my teeth started to hurt.
    So now I use a drop of Dr. Bronner’s soap on my toothbrush. I use the unscented “Baby Mild” soap. It tastes a little funny but you get used to it.

    shannon wrote on June 2nd, 2011
    • Same here, I use Dr. Bronners Soap, the peppermint kind. And a WaterPick to floss…I don’t like to slash into my gums on a daily basis.

      Once every full moon I use real dental floss to get the stubborn junks out of my back molars.

      Said that I am currently wearing a full set of braces and have the best teeth and gums in my life, without excessive cleaning. Fact is, I never even brush, I tab or blot along the gumline to losen plague with the toothbrush, then use the water pick to flush debris away.
      Since eating primal, my tongue never needs cleaning :-)

      Primal Palate wrote on June 2nd, 2011
      • Finally!!! Someone on MDA mentioned Bronner’s!!! I’ve been using Bronner’s for about a year now, and my health has actually improved. It seems happy, and healthful. They’re really good people, and their soap is just oils!

        No sulfate, parabens, or anything like that. Once you ca get out of the mindset that you need a huge foam cap on your head, and this thick, sticky cream all over your body to clean yourself, every bath/shower becomes a real treat. Can be used as toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoo, body soap, laundry soap, dish soap, use in enemas, to clean your dogs, as a surface cleaner, a mild sanitizer, everything!

        I worry, though, for us with amalgam fillings, about brushing with abrasives. I got mild mercury poisoning when I was using baking soda and hard-bristled toothbrushes to brush my teeth. They nailed it down to being from my fillings (I have fillings on almost all of my teeth — thanks, entire childhood of carb overload!). I want to get these fillings out, but I’ve yet to find a cost-effective way of getting some safe type of fillings. Your mouth is also HIGHLY absorbent of chemicals, so I wouldn’t put sodium laureth sulfate or any sodium fluoride in my mouth.

        I’ve heard of the blotting method, could you elaborate more on it? I’ve seen all kinds of toothbrushes designed especially for it, too.

        Aidan wrote on June 2nd, 2011
        • For blotting you can use any type of toothbrush…xept the ones specifically made for it have a rounded edge at the end of the bristle, rather than just chopped off and left with a sharp edge.

          I hold my toothbrush (which is a 89 cent toothbrush with bristles being same height) at a 90 degree angle to my teeth with a drop of Bronner’s Soap applied to it. Then I push the bristles into the bottom of my teeth where the gums start. Bristles losen the plague and it’s being pushed all over the place. Brushing seems to slide the plague along the gumline actually pushing the plague into and under gums eventually causing gum problems.

          I also bought a dental tool #5…it looks like a mini hockey stick that the cleaners use to scrape plague from teeth. It’s flat and pointy at its end and I can gently scrape below the gum line to remove miniscule amounts of plague.

          Or, keep it totally cheap and use a wooden toothpick, bash the end flat so that the wood spreads and use it to clean below the gum line…this is probably what Grok did back in the good ole days. I use all 3 methods I just mentioned. Blotting, dental tool and bashed, watersoaked toothpick.
          Watersoaked toothpick works best on sensitive areas like the very front, to gently get under the gum line.
          ‘Hockey stick’ I use on my molars.
          After losening all plague, I use a WaterPick to flush it out.
          Done.

          Primal Palate wrote on June 2nd, 2011
        • re: replacing your fillings, try doing it one at a time so the cost isn’t as overwhelming

          bbuddha wrote on June 2nd, 2011
        • I like to cross train my teeth and gums too. Electric brush, manual brush, sulca brush (seems like blotting described earlier) with nothing, toothpaste or oil of oregano. Mixing it up with regular flossing and a mouth was once in a while seems to work well for me. I figure if you do the same thing every time, there will be some spots that you never get.

          Chris wrote on June 2nd, 2011
        • I’m very thankful that toothpaste without sodium laurel sulphate (Australian/British spelling!)has got rid of the succession of painful mouth ulcers I was experiencing.
          Thanks for the tip from Dr. Mercola.

          Nigel wrote on June 4th, 2011
        • Awesome! I love Dr. Boner’s. I’ve been using his peppermint soap for years on my teeth, hair and skin. No cavities, no nothin!

          Stan wrote on June 5th, 2011
        • Ahh, That ain’t nothin! I got an 86 year old aunt that has been using the same wooden toothbrush since 1956. The only thing my aunt needs is a little baking soda and a whole lot of Red Man.

          Johnny wrote on June 6th, 2011
    • My holistic dentist told me Baking Soda and Peroxide makes teeth sensitive.

      Katzenberg wrote on June 2nd, 2011
    • Here’s a chart that shows the ratings of different substances (including baking soda) and toothpastes… baking soda is actually a lot lower on the list that most toothpastes! http://www1.epinions.com/content_3128664196

      Katie @ Wellness Mama wrote on June 2nd, 2011
    • I also use Dr. Bronner’s soap (well actually Whole Foods version) peppermint soap. Lots of soads, very economical as a little goes a very long way and the soap is multi-functional (dish soap, and insecticidal soap)

      Eileen wrote on June 2nd, 2011
  9. My dentist has raved about the condition of my teeth and gums in the 18 months since going Paleo. They barely have to touch my teeth during a cleaning. Good Times!

    Chris wrote on June 2nd, 2011
    • same experience for me and my husband too!

      barb wrote on June 2nd, 2011
    • Same for me and my kids.

      Nicole wrote on June 2nd, 2011
  10. I just had my 6 month cleaning a few days ago and the hygienist said “There’s really not much for me to do here.” My routine? I brush twice a day with plain old baking soda (I’ve flavored it with peppermint oil in the past) and floss almost every day. I do use a Sonicare toothbrush, as it was a gift from my retired dentist Dad. I’ve noticed, however, when I am away from the house and use a regular toothbrush with the baking soda, I feel just as clean. I was thrilled that my last cleaning only took 25 minutes from start to finish :)

    Marjorie wrote on June 2nd, 2011
    • I recently had the same experience. Primal for 6 months and the dentist said almost the exact same thing – “not much here for me to do.” The hygenist did ask me if I was drinking a bit more coffee and tea lately. I said, “hush, lady, and just clean my teeth.” :) I brush twice in the morning and floss at night. I also use mouthwash twice a day so I was hoping Mark would address that. Maybe it’s unnecessary.

      Chuck_B wrote on June 2nd, 2011
      • you might try brushing with activated charcoal to adsorb/absorb the stains from drinking tea/coffee :)

        Wenona wrote on December 4th, 2013
    • Hey marjorie…that’s a great little tip with the pepper mint oil…might just steal that from you…I would of course give you props if someone was to inquire :-)

      Dean Dwyer wrote on June 2nd, 2011
  11. What’s the deal on wisdom teeth? Is it really a medical necessity to get them out? Will a primal diet lessen the risk of impaction?

    anamaria wrote on June 2nd, 2011
    • I have all of my wisdom teeth and I am 52. For years, my dentist would be remark that he was amazed that they did not get cavities in them because they are so far back. After 35 years at the same dentist, he no longer comments. I have had two cavities in my lifetime – one very young around age 9 and one after my daughter was born (apparently pregnancy can be a strain on the teeth). Both cavities were tiny. Living in the country on wellwater all of my life, I never had access to fluoridated water which didn’t seem to bother my teeth any. My husband, on the other hand, has numerous cavities and grew up on “city” water. I brush twice a day, once with Tom’s non-fluoride toothpaste and once with water, and always floss every day. I rarely have any plaque for the dentist to remove. My daughter (age 23) does the same and has never had one cavity. However, she has NO wisdom teeth at all – must be further along the evolutionary tree ;) Oh, and once I started to develop a cavity and it healed itself – the dentist was amazed by that as well and said he hardly ever sees that!

      Laurie D. wrote on June 2nd, 2011
    • We are all supposed to have all 32 teeth.
      Wisdom teeth are being pulled if the dental arch didn’t develop into its full genetic size.
      Conventional dentists like to pull the premolars which hurts your facial appearance later in life. Everything usually shifts backwards and so the wisdom teeth need eventually be pulled, too.

      Weston A. Price wrote an excellent medical book about it…I recommend it to everyone.

      Primal Palate wrote on June 2nd, 2011
      • Any chance you could elaborate on this or point me to any further reading? I have a narrow arch and had teeth removed, and I always suspected it affected my facial appearance…

        Evolutionarily wrote on June 2nd, 2011
        • You have to see it to understand it, here is a link

          http://www.journeytoforever.org/farm_library/price/pricetoc.html

          This table of content is about 50% of the total book. The rest of the book is medical testing with pictures on animals (not for everyone) and other scientific proof and medical testing done on children and people with bone and mental diseases (improvements).
          It explains which nutrients are missing to create certain conditions of disease and dental deformities, etc.
          He talks about High Vitamin Butter Oil which is high in Activator X (K2) and Cod Liver Oil.
          Also talks about soil fertility and americas farm lands, etc…

          Weston Price’s Book is called Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.

          Primal Palate wrote on June 2nd, 2011
        • Nutrition and Physical Degeneration is free online. Google it. Also visit the Weston A. Price Foundation website, they’ve got several good articles on the subject.

          I have my issues with Matt Stone, but back when he was doing slightly saner things, he wrote a piece about a Somali woman in his acquaintance who had grown up on her traditional foods. You should see that woman’s dental arches. It is amazing. Her children, on the other hand, grew up here. Every one of them’s got allergies and dental problems.

          I’m in your boat, narrow arch with teeth removed. I’ve heard it’s possible to widen the maxilla (upper jaw/central face) for a bit more development but it’s not a mainstream dental treatment yet and therefore not in the cards for me unless I raise the money.

          Dana wrote on June 2nd, 2011
        • Hi Dana,

          you seem to be into this as much as I am…lol.
          I’ve been reading all your posts about dental arch and teeth etc and I’m intruiged. Also on Ryan Koch’s site, if that is you.
          I feel for everyone who’s had their pre-molars removed as a kid. I’ve read some dentists pull the 2nd incissors and move the canines to the front, ouch!

          I’ve been doing a ton of research on dental arch widening and unless the patient is armed with the info and what he/she wants, most orthos STILL just remove pre-molars and then wisdom teeth, it’s really sad.

          I’m glad my mother didn’t want to dish out the money for me to get braces back when because I would only have 24 teeth now like my sister and so many others.
          I am currently undergoing an expansion of the dental arch. My lower jaw used to ‘hang’ there with the tongue resting in it and had to use muscle strength to keep my mouth closed. The tongue seemed to big for my mouth to be stretched out and flat…it would pop my mouth open.
          This muscle tension gave me neck pain, facial pain and severe discomfort. The premolars were collapsed inward just enough to where my lower jaw didn’t fit properly into my upper arch and had to be held back. Kids grow up unconciously holding their lower jaw back thinking that’s how its supposed to be because thats the only place it seems to ‘fit’.
          It’s a malocclusion type II and usually shows a weak chin and a slight overjet or deep bite in front.

          It’s my 8th month and my tongue is now flat and my lower jaw shifted forward fitting into my upper jaw like a glove.
          I now keep my mouth closed at night when sound asleep, all my ‘facial ticks’ have stopped. I can have my mouth closed for hours without ever adjusting the lower jaw or lips.
          And I have 1.5 years to go on the expansion, it’s going to be awesome when done :-)

          Primal Palate wrote on June 2nd, 2011
        • This is an older comment thread, but I blogged about the dental arch findings of Weston A. Price recently. Nutritional deficiencies of parents pre-conception and during pregnancy can lead to malformed jaws in their offspring causing impacted wisdom teeth along with crooked or crowded teeth as well.

          http://thepaleohygienist.com/2012/10/26/can-what-you-eat-now-keep-your-future-kids-out-of-braces-part-i/

          http://thepaleohygienist.com/2012/11/04/can-what-you-eat-now-keep-your-future-kids-out-of-braces-part-ii/

          Debbie, RDH wrote on November 10th, 2012
      • HI, How do I get more information on Palate expansion. My son had his upper palate expanded because it was actually narrower than his lower palate. But I just don’t understand how people expand the bottom when both are narrow. It seems the tongue would get in the way of the expansion device. I would love to learn more, esp how an adult goes about having this done. What is it called and who does it? I am a Weston Price member, have read his book, and have read dental articles in the Journal, but am looking to learn more about modern palate expansion techniques. Thanks!

        Elizabeth McInerney wrote on June 22nd, 2012
    • Wisdom teeth are normally removed from age 17-27 if they are causing problems (pain, periodontitis) or are likely to do so based on their position. If they are coming into proper occlusion (bite) then you can often leave them alone. After about age 27, preventitive removal isn’t called for. There is more I could say but that’s a quick answer.

      Diet has nothing to do with impaction. The position of the developing tooth bud and the size of the growing mandible determine impacted vs non impacted.

      Antonio_D wrote on June 2nd, 2011
      • Diet affects the position of the developing tooth and the size of the growing mandible. It has everything to do with how your tooth positioning turns out.

        My mother has never in her entire life taken good care of herself. I wound up paying the price. I had to have braces not once but twice, my face is crooked and the only reason I had room for my upper wisdom teeth was I’d had two incisors pulled when I got my first set of braces. And even then they started decaying and I had to have them pulled when I was 31.

        Adequate animal fat and vitamin K2 would have spared me a lot of that grief. Vitamin A also affects whether the outside of your body develops symmetrically. I haven’t had liver since I was eleven, if not earlier. Most of my A has come from plant foods, and come to find out we’re not very good at converting beta carotene. Whoops.

        Dana wrote on June 2nd, 2011
        • I really need to speak to you about this further, how can I contact you? Thanks!

          Evolutionarily wrote on June 2nd, 2011
    • We have NOT “evolved away” from our wisdom teeth. Our jaws should still be big enough to have room for them. Central facial development, including the maxilla (upper jaw), is governed in part by vitamin K2 intake (analog mk-4 or menatetrenone). If your arches don’t get wide enough you won’t have room for all your teeth. And maxillary development appears to have quite an influence on mandible (lower jaw) development as well.

      If the damage is already done you may need to have your wisdom teeth removed. But there are people who’ve had treatments done to widen that maxillary arch. Look for the Pretty In Primal blog, she writes a lot about it. She’s also on my Facebook and we’ve both geeked out about this since we’re both in the same boat, narrow arch with teeth missing and past orthodontic treatment.

      Dana wrote on June 2nd, 2011
      • Interesting, I have to go look that up.
        Also, I wish Ryan Koch would update his progression on his Homeoblock.
        After much excitement he seems to have ‘fallen off the horse’.

        Primal Palate wrote on June 2nd, 2011
        • Do you have a blog? I have looked up Ryan Koch’s blog, and also Pretty in Primal. Are there any other resources / people investigating this? Your story of your issues growing up above (I can’t reply directly to it) really resonated with me.

          Evolutionarily wrote on June 2nd, 2011
        • Hi Evolutionarily,

          can’t reply directly to you for some reason.

          Ryan is the guinea pig for the Homeoblock atm.
          His website for the palatal expansion is called Health Matters To Me / Adult Palatal Expansion.
          There are like 3 different blogs, all about the same thing with lots of people reporting their succes…or problems.

          Good Luck

          PrimalCrap wrote on June 3rd, 2011
      • A couple of things.. first off a small crticism: you mention diet but don’t even mention genetics in either post.

        The case of a narrowed maxilla could be because of mouth breathing(and tongue position though the evidence is mixed) or thumb sucking or just plain genetics.

        Maloclussion could be dental or skelatal. You can have a large enough jaw but have lost primary teeth contributing to ectopic eruption…

        As far as 3rds I will concided to you diet can play a role in any development of any bone in the body – to a point.

        I have removed plenty of impacted 3rds, supernumeraries, 4 rooted molars, and other phenomena. Interestingly 4 rooted lowers are somewhat common among Alaska natives. I have seen large mandibles with 3rds that should erupt but never do. Why? I don’t know for certain.

        We could argue diet vs gentics vs environmental factors and I won’t say you’re totally wrong because I agree to a point but I think genetics plays a huge role. Its so hard to say. I am all for eating a healthy diet though.

        Antonio_D wrote on June 2nd, 2011
        • I think different races suffer different consequences when the parents suffer malnutrition before and during pregnancy.
          For the most part I think it’s all caused by the same thing, malnutrition.

          Weston Price talks about it in his book that the overall health and health of the teeth of an individual are determined by the health of both parents (but mainly the mothers) at the time BEFORE conseption.

          Eggs develop during teenage years and special nutrition is needed to make them superior. So here is my thought… if women build their eggs on a SAD diet that caused malnutrition…10 years later she goes primal for 1 year but the eggs were created during teenage years…would the baby end up with a wide, native dental arch that fits all 32 teeth?

          It’s been proven that even when going primal later in years, the eggs remain damaged and a semi-primal baby is born that could still have some deformities in the face.

          Would a primal, nutritious diet affect the poor formed eggs of a mother later in year? Does nutrition repair ‘old’ eggs?
          Would like to hear some thoughts on this.

          Primal Palate wrote on June 17th, 2011
  12. I’ve been using Tooth Chips for the past three or four months. It’s basically shredded farm soap, but it doesn’t have any glycerin in it to coat your teeth and prevent remineralization or SLS (gives me canker sores). Since then, my teeth have been much less sensitive, but after reading this, maybe I’ll just go with plain old water and see what happens. No reason why it shouldn’t work. :)

    Sarah D wrote on June 2nd, 2011
    • I don’t use Tooth Chips, but I do use bar soap–a bar of Kiss My Face, with honey & calendula. No glycerine, no SLS, and it should last forever, at the rate I’m using it.

      If I’ve been drinking too much coffee and my teeth look stained, I’ll include some baking soda–that combo knocks the crud right off.

      People look at me as if I’m nuts when I tell them I brush my teeth with soap, but giving up toothpaste in favor of it has made a huge difference. My teeth feel much cleaner.

      Magical Realist wrote on June 3rd, 2011
  13. Licorice root stick is the way to go. Easy to obtain by mail order or at your local herb store. Peel down some of the ‘bark’ and make a little brush out of the end by gnawing on it. You really have to work each individual tooth, but you also get a chance to know them better, too. The licorice root gives you a nice fresh mouth feeling and I’m certain chewing on a stick had got to provide you with some minerals, right?

    Emily wrote on June 2nd, 2011
  14. I started using toothpics several years ago. My mouth feels so much cleaner than it does after brushing. A few months after I started using them, I went to the dentist for a cleaning and she said she had never seen a mouth so devoid of plaque. Of course, I had also been eating Paleo for several years. Mouth cleaning just isn’t that big of a deal on this diet I guess.

    Peggy The Primal Parent wrote on June 2nd, 2011
  15. Very interesting post and discussion…the marketing machine sure has us believing that we need tartar control/sensitivity/whitening products, doesn’t it? While I’m not sure if I’ll be able to give up the minty fresh taste, this is great info to consider, and I may try the “chew sticks” anyway, just for squeaks & gigs.

    Amy wrote on June 2nd, 2011
  16. HA! “Using a dental dam to chew” I just spit eggs and sausage all over my keyboard.

    Rob wrote on June 2nd, 2011
  17. My go to homemade toothpaste is equal parts baking soda and coconut oil with a touch of mint.

    BUT, I am thinking of trying something different. Maybe just baking soda or maybe some himalayan sea salt. I’ve read people using both.

    During the summer the coconut oil melts! During the winter it gets super hard….

    Primal Toad wrote on June 2nd, 2011
    • This is what I use, but I add a few drops of tea tree oil.

      Most store brands of toothpaste have a warning on the package about not swallowing too much and calling the Poison control center and keeping out of the reach of children, and list ingredients that we wouldn’t dare allow in our food. So I’m not gonna put it in my mouth. :-)

      Since going primal and using my homemade toothpaste, my gums have completely stopped bleeding.

      Patty wrote on June 2nd, 2011
      • My daughter has horrific tooth decay but she also grew in me when I was malnourished as hell and I wasn’t doing so hot when I nursed her either. I had no idea what I was doing and the doctors sure won’t tell you, they say put the child on vitamin drops.

        I know better now and I know it’s not a fluoride deficiency that did this to her.

        Dana wrote on June 2nd, 2011
      • the reason they tell you not to swallow is the flouride. too much INGESTED floride over time can lead to hyperflorosis (sp?) a condition which causes spots on the teeth. Way too much flouride at a time can cause poisoning, such as if your kid ate the whole tube because he thought it was candy (just as it could if he ate a whole bottle of tylenol)

        moonablaze wrote on June 3rd, 2011
        • It can also lead to myloma. Nothing good comes from ingesting flourine.

          Kenny wrote on July 18th, 2011
    • I was told by my holistic dentist to use 2/3 baking soda and 1/3 cheap sea salt. Not the gourmet stuff which is chunkier. Works for me!

      beverly wrote on May 27th, 2012
  18. 27 years and no cavaties! about 15 years ago i started to become a lazy toothbrusher, i stopped using toothpaste except for the occasional special event. a few friends would laugh at me for not using anything, but i’ve never really had bad breathe, no issues with the dentist, or any other issues. about a year ago i told my dentist what i had been up to and he had no complaints. nice to see some evidence back me up!

    amarie84 wrote on June 2nd, 2011
  19. I’ve noticed that since going primal I no longer have sensitive teeth.
    Cold used to really hurt.
    Now I wake up in the morning and swish ice cold ground water (+ drop of peppermint oil) through my teeth to get the ‘night spit’ out of my mouth.

    Ahhhhhh, refreshing!

    Primal Palate wrote on June 2nd, 2011
  20. I have sprouted wheatgrass and clipped a couple of tablespoons of the grass and chewed it. Sometimes swallowed for the extra fiber. I had a cavity but I think I re-mineralized it in this way. I got this idea from a website that claimed you could fix a cavity by doing this.

    My teeth do indeed feel harder and smoother after chewing on the grass. I don’t know if it is just cleaning my teeth, or if it is the meager amount of calcium and phosphorous, or if it is the chlorophyll–some kind of anti-bacterial action in the mouth, or a health effect of consuming it.

    chipin wrote on June 2nd, 2011
  21. This is too funny, I was brushing my teeth this morning thinking about dental hygiene and what Mark would say about it. Awesome timing.

    Bobby wrote on June 2nd, 2011
  22. I am a little obsessive with my oral health, however due to crappy health insurance that doesn’t cover dental, I can’t afford a dentist presently so there’s a reason for it.

    I’ve never had a cavity or gum disease and have a very healthy natural shade of white teeth. I will not use any fluoride product on my teeth or knowingly consume any water with fluoride in it (I have my own well, and it’s been tested). Fluoride doesn’t kill the germs that cause cavities, rather it remineralizes the teeth and pineal gland in the brain with bastardized fluoride versions of what should be there. As a matter of fact, too much fluoride intake causes dental fluorosis, google for pics if you want to see what it does.

    I highly advocate baking soda for brushing the teeth because any product that lowers the Ph level of the mouth kills the germs that cause dental plaque and tooth decay, but be careful, it’s abrasive and can potentially damage the teeth if you get wild with it. I also advocate rarely consuming highly acidic foods, large amounts of sugar, or foods that are hard such as hard candy or popcorn kernels as these can all damage the teeth.

    I personally use a toothpaste called doctor collins restore, which remineralizes teeth with natural tooth minerals and kills germs by lowering the mouth ph level. I combine that with the use of a xylitol mouthwash (biotene). Xylitol is one of the best sugar alcohols for dental health because plaque causing bacteria can’t digest it and they eventually starve. I also highly suggest getting the softest toothbrush possible, regular toothbrush disenfection, and replacement every 3 months. I use dr. collins perio brush, make sure when you brush, you are doing it correctly, small gentle circular motion with the brush angled towards the gums and be sure to use gentle floss regularly as well. Flossing is more important than brushing in my opinion.

    nickoo wrote on June 2nd, 2011
    • Is Doctor Collins Restore made in China?

      Tee wrote on June 2nd, 2011
    • Ramiel Nagel wrote a book about tooth decay called ‘Cure Tooth Decay’.
      It is backed up by the President of the Holistic Dental Association Timothy Gallagher, DDS.

      Ramiel found that dental cavities are not caused by bacteria but by the imbalance of minerals that’s caused by certain foods in the glands and blood stream. Tooth decay stops upon death! If bacteria were the blame tooth decay would continue after a person dies, but it doesn’t.

      His work is backed up by evidence from Weston Price, Melvin Page and Francis Pottenger.

      Xylitol is one of those alcohol sugars that change the mineral ratio of cal:phos in glands and blood stream. A ratio of 10:4 stops cavities. Bacteria can’t digest sugar alcohols and convert them into acid.
      Thus making people believe it prevents cavities because bacteria don’t multiply. You can overdose (esp. children) on Xylitol with side effects ranging from seizures to liver damage and even death. Xylitol does not have the GRAS status (generally recognized as safe) for consumption status by the federal government.

      Ramiel Nagel mentions exactly which foods stop cavities and achieve this balanced ratio without ever cleaning teeth.
      I’ve read his book awhile ago (together with Weston Price’s) and healed 4 soft spots on the outer gumline of my upper canines and 2nd incissors.

      Fortunately, all of the medical research and books written by these doctors and R. Nagel fall right in line with the primal diet :-)

      Katzenberg wrote on June 2nd, 2011
      • The best way to use xylitol is by chewing gum which contains at least 2 grams of it after every meal. Ice Breakers Ice Cubes is a readily available gum that contains this much xylitol. It is made by Hershey, which is a huge US corporation. The FDA has approved xylitol for human consumption. It is available in packets for use as a sugar substitute in most health food stores and organic markets (Whole Foods). Your assertion that it’s not fit for human consumption is manifestly ludicrous.

        I suffered from cavities for years and went to the dentist every six months. I started a xylitol regiment and stopped using the dentist six years ago. Result: zero cavities. Xylitol is an all natural substance which has never been proven to do anything harmful. It causes digestive problems if used in huge quantities, way more than 6-10 grams a day. Chewing xylitol gum also promotes saliva production after a meal. Saliva is the best defense our body has against caries. The only caveat is that it is not effective if it’s not used religiously for long periods of time. I spend about $300 a year on the gum, a lot cheaper than a root canal.

        John wrote on June 2nd, 2011
        • “The FDA has approved xylitol for human consumption”

          FALSE.
          In fact, it didn’t even get the GRAS status as stated above.
          It’s allowed in minuscule amounts in ‘cosmetic’ items such as toothpaste and dental chewing gum.
          Xylitol is not safe. It disrupts glandular function.

          Arty wrote on June 2nd, 2011
      • Tooth decay stops at death because what are the acid-producing bacteria going to eat once the supply of fermentable substrate is gone?

        You get a similar effect with a primal or “cure tooth decay” diet: little or no fermentable carbohydrate in the oral cavity = no acid byproduct that breaks down your tooth enamel.

        Your xylitol information is incorrect. It can cause death in dogs but not humans. I suppose you can OD on it like you can with water or salt but ~1g, 5x daily is all that’s needed to improve oral health. it does not need to be ingested anyway. It acts directly in the oral cavity, raising pH and pathogens cannot metabolize it, controlling their population. It also appears that xylitol and topical fluoride work synergistically in healing teeth.

        misterworms wrote on June 2nd, 2011
        • I agree that it doesn’t cause immediate death using it in toothpaste or chewing gum.
          Ramiel Nagel has a few concerns though. Btw, MY information was straight from the Holistic Dentistry…so not really MY opinion. I don’t know anything about xylitol, I’m just concerned about what I read and want everyone else to know about it and form a possible opinion!

          I’ve linked Ramiel’s website below about xylitol. It shows medical evidence that sugar alcohols do screw up the glands…well in animals anyways…but are we so different?

          Katzenberg wrote on June 2nd, 2011
        • The bacteria rot the rest of the body away, don’t they? Why wouldn’t they keep eating the teeth too? In someone with bad teeth the enamel is already weak.

          I am assuming, of course, that when the other commenter says tooth decay stops at death, they’re talking about just an average dead body and not one that’s been pickled by embalming fluid.

          Dana wrote on June 2nd, 2011
        • In response to this: [i]The bacteria rot the rest of the body away, don’t they? Why wouldn’t they keep eating the teeth too? In someone with bad teeth the enamel is already weak.[/i]

          Bacteria do not “eat” tooth enamel which is mostly mineral. Same with bones – everything gets eaten (rots), but mineralized structures remain.

          Bacteria eat the easily digestible carbohydrates you put into your mouth and acid is one of their metabolic byproducts. Acid dissolves mineral – when pH drops below a critical point, calcium and phosphate exit the enamel matrix. Acid production peaks about a half hour after exposure (to the carbohydrate) so frequency of exposure is important in the decay process.

          misterworms wrote on June 2nd, 2011
    • @Tee, it was at one time. I don’t believe it is anymore. Burt’s bees also makes a toothpaste with the Novamine compound in it.

      However, beyond the toothpaste, the best way to reminineralize teeth is to provide the saliva with the proper minerals by eating a diet full of healthy minerals. Use a high quality beach combed sea salt in all of your cooking and gargle with it regularly.

      nickoo wrote on June 2nd, 2011
      • Or just drink a lot of bone broth.

        Dana wrote on June 2nd, 2011
      • Or dip your finger into Azomite red clay mineral for those who can’t or don’t want to make bone broth.
        It has all minerals in the correct ratio.

        Arty wrote on June 2nd, 2011
  23. My grandfather was adamant in his opposition to fluoride. I remember thinking he was a crackpot (I was only 9 after all,) but he was right on so many other things, he might have had something going on there. He opposed fluoridation of drinking water, and people thought he was a crackpot.
    He also advocated growing and using herbs to treat medical problems, and the importance of organic foods. Keep in mind that this was back in 1986, so people thought he was a total crackpot.
    Unfortunately, he passed away in 1991 – way too late to see the paleo/primal/organic revolution today.
    He would have been appalled at the condition/treatment of animals today.

    Jason Sandeman wrote on June 2nd, 2011
  24. We use Uncle Harry’s tooth powder. One of the interesting things about it is when I brush with that (as opposed to modern tooth pastes) I don’t seem to have morning breath. Which is a good thing, for sure.

    Pretty affordable, considering it lasts forever. I’ve heard that some people gargle with it when they have tooth pain and the pain is reduced or eliminated.

    Hal wrote on June 2nd, 2011
    • I just stumbled upon this article and I think it’s awesome! I love Uncle Harry’s Tooth Powder and I would encourage anyone to check it out. I never thought of us as primal before but i’m loving this passionate oral-health debate.

      We strictly avoid fluoride, sweeteners, preservatives, any miracle synthetic additive, baking soda, and foaming agents such as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. Uncle Harry’s Natural Toothpowder contains natural mustard seed powder, sundried sea salt, calcium carbonate or natural chalk, and a bouquet of natural aromatherapy essential oils such as thyme, eucalyptus, clove, and peppermint. This mixture creates a very powerful synergetic potion that cleans the teeth and eliminates harmful bacterial build-up in the mouth.

      Please let us know if you have any questions and check out our new website!!
      Uncleharrys.com

      Sarah wrote on October 10th, 2013
  25. i love this post!

    i grew up in haiti and out in the provinces, the peasants/farmers actually used charcoal ash maybe once a week on a stick or just mushed in with their fingers. their teeth SPARKLE!

    i also make a powder with equal parts sea salt, baking powder and dried sage. i don’t use it everyday, but i love it.

    jenny wrote on June 2nd, 2011
  26. i can’t remember when i gave up toothpaste……….. at least 6 months ago. i did baking soda with peppermint essential oil for awhile. it did seem to make my teeth sensitive. i have heard that baking soda can be a little abrasive.

    i made a toothpaste with baking soda, dr.bonner’s and coconut oil. my husband didn’t like it…. too soapy. too oily.

    now we are using arrowroot powder with a little salt and essential oil (peppermint or spearamint). a tiny drop of stevia gives it the “toothpaste sweetness”. i like it. the arrowroot powder seems a little less abrasive. i don’t have any sensitivity right now. so, for now, will stick with this tooth powder.

    good post. thanks!

    coley wrote on June 2nd, 2011
  27. What timing–I just went to the dentist for the first time in 6 years and got roundly told off for having receding gums, presumably from brushing too hard. I wondered what Grok would do.

    So I’m wondering how this ties into that discovery about native oral flora and links to tooth decay. Prob everyone’s heard of someone who brushes obsessively and has a million fillings vs the person who never brushes and has perfect teeth. Chance? Diet? Genetics? Inoculation with something early in life?

    Anna wrote on June 2nd, 2011
    • Oh and also– anyone with more Primal experience than me got any advice on repairing receded gums? The hygienist said it was impossible and that I could just have to be really careful in the future but–somehow I don’t believe her. (She was also one of those hygienists who insists on stabbing you to bits with pieces of metal and then criticising you when you flinch, so I wasn’t feeling very charitable to HER ideas!)

      Anna wrote on June 2nd, 2011
      • you may need a new hygienist.

        Gums recede because of irritation. You have to get it cleared out. You might be able to do it with floss or a water pic – get the area inside the gum as clean as you can.
        I’ve had to have that deep cleaned by the dentist a couple of times. it’s not fun but it works. And my gums went back up to where they belonged afterwards.

        Ely wrote on June 2nd, 2011
      • I know how your feel, I’m pretty sure my hygienist is a sadist :-) on the receded gum line thing, my daughter had that issue and she used hydrogen peroxide and water for a mouthwash for a while. You are right to doubt her proclamation of impossible, you can repair them.

        bbuddha wrote on June 2nd, 2011
      • I have the same problem – receding gums…
        Even had the surgery for it… Yikes.. Don’t want to go through this ever again.
        I switched to natural Periobrite toothpaste and a mouthwash a year ago.
        Anyone knows how to stop or reverse receding gums?

        Julie wrote on June 3rd, 2011
        • Might want to read Dr Ellie’s blog. Not primal; but the info will help you plan a strategy

          NoGlutenEver wrote on March 6th, 2012
        • i recently started researching and caring for my teeth at first radically because my goal was to remove naturally tartar buildup witch i partially achieved

          after a few weeks of oil pulling radical flossing(using flossers and the plastic tip on the other side) and use of water pick i tried the monkey brand tooth powder(it has a great whitening affect) i saw that after brushing with the powder and rinsing the mouth some of it was stuck between the gums and teeth had to brush again to brush that out and also huge gaps developed on the bottom of my lower teeth(due to radical flossing)
          i laid of the waterpik and radical flossing for a few weeks (flossed once in two days or when very dirty did not use the plastic tip of the other side)
          just used the powder again and rinsed and none stuck between teeth and gums also the gums started filling back the holes between my teeth
          MY TEETH REGIMENT NOW
          oil pulling with coconut oil 1 or more times a day brushing with monkey powder like twice a day i use dry brush to apply then add some baking soda to mouth and some distilled water and swish it around a bit i floss lightly about 1-2 times in two days
          MY TEETH REGIMENT IN THE FUTURE

          after my research i believe that that the song “brush and floss your teeth every day so your teeth will stay healthy and cavities at bay” needs to change to “nurture your teeth every day so your teeth will stay healthy and cavities at bay” i believe brushing and flossing is just needed for the cosmetics of the teeth and can sometimes mess up the anatomy of the teeth(residing gum lines etc)

          i plan for the health of teeth to follow some of DR Westen Prices recomendations and for cosmetics on learning how to use and getting an ultrasonic scaler using it once in 5-8 month’s otherwise i will keep oil pulling for health and using monkey powder for cosmatics and some flossing and use some tumaric powder once in a wile

          bosssadhappylife wrote on June 25th, 2013
  28. Since I have been primal for a year and half now, I have noticed that my tooth enamel has gone from being kind of translucent (esp at the tips of the teeth), to more opaque pearly white. i read on a thread here that excessive brushing and using abrasive tooth cleaners (ie, baking soda) is actually bad for tooth enamel, wearing it away like sandpaper.

    I started a routine of brushing/flossing just once a day in the morning. I use a very soft bristle brush and do not use a lot of pressure. Mostly I focus on giving my gums a gentle, stimulating massage. I just went to the dentist after 2 years and she commented that I had very little plaque, gums look great.

    Another oral health regimen I heard about from my father (who is also adamantly opposed to water flouridation) is called “oil pulling”. Basically, you take a teaspoon of coconut oil and just swish it thoroughly around your teeth and mouth for a good 5 minutes and then spit it out (in the trash, not down the sink – it will solidify and clog your pipes). Coconut oil has anti microbial properties and this should help clear up gingivitis and even chronic sinus infections.

    Barb wrote on June 2nd, 2011
  29. I’ve been using OraMD products for a while now and I think they’re great. A little pricey, but it totally replaces toothpaste for me. I had the early signs of gingivitis a while back – gums were red, sensitive, receding, bleeding, etc. All that has pretty much disappeared since I’ve been using OraMD. I haven’t been to the dentist in a while, but I’m hoping that they’ll say good things when I do :)

    Chris wrote on June 2nd, 2011
  30. I’ve recently switched over to Tom’s toothpaste. Admittedly no difference yet. Be interesting to see what people recommend though – will very likely start using a toothpick soon.

    James wrote on June 2nd, 2011
  31. My wife and I use a product called OraMD and can’t speak highly enough about it. It’s a little pricey, but it’s so worth it. Here’s a link to the Amazon product page: http://goo.gl/WKHCz. The manufacturer won’t like this, but we are going to start making our own – we’ve heard from some others that it’s actually quite easy.

    Brandon wrote on June 2nd, 2011
  32. re: the comment on the beans post… 28 g per 1/2 cup is hefty? LOL. I’ve eaten legumes for years and never gotten fat. I actually just made some chickpea hummus the other day. It’s great on chicken or turkey burgers. Last night my side dish was green lentils.

    Lisa wrote on June 2nd, 2011
  33. I’ve been brushing with just baking soda or nothing but water since my last cleaning. I will do so until the next one to see if she notices a difference.

    James Schipper wrote on June 2nd, 2011
  34. When I eat mangoes I save the skin. Turn it inside out, leave it out in the sun for a day, then cut it into strips. I take the strips and coil them around a twig that is about 8 inches long and has had the bark shaved off of it.

    rob wrote on June 2nd, 2011
    • Dude, seriously? That is effing Primal.

      Karen P. wrote on June 2nd, 2011
  35. I had periodontal disease (long before I started paleo) which I cured naturally using irrigation of the affected pockets with colloidal silver or hydrogen peroxide (diluted, of course). Because of that history my dentist likes to have me come in 3xs/year for cleaning. However since removing grains and other starches from my diet, the hygienist is always remarking on how well I take care of my teeth. I keep telling her that it’s my diet and she agrees. But what I DON’T tell her is that I now go a day or two without brushing. I will use floss, toothpicks or other dental tools to get stuff out between. No cavities, no bleeding gums, not for YEARS now. Paleo works!

    Lila wrote on June 2nd, 2011
  36. To get more K2 into your diet when eating primal is through High Vitamin Butter Oil as mentioned by Weston A. Price.

    Website for High Vitamin Butter Oil

    http://www.greenpasture.org

    Primal Palate wrote on June 2nd, 2011
    • I pour it over my steamed veggies :-)

      Resi wrote on June 2nd, 2011
      • That was supposed to be a reply to someone, oh well.

        Resi wrote on June 2nd, 2011
  37. FYI, with the goose liver thing? There is this fascinating book about animal fat (called, appropriately, Fat) that discusses foie gras. Apparently, at least on traditional farms, the geese get used to the feeding and *look forward* to it. Because geese do not have gag reflexes. You cannot distress a goose by pouring grain down its throat if the goose knows you and is used to that particular feeding method.

    The author also pointed out that ancient Egyptians knew of the habit of waterbirds for fattening themselves up before migration, and would hunt them most during that time.

    So I’m at the point that I’m more than a little disgusted by the campaign against foie gras… I wouldn’t want something like that which was raised industrially, because it would be a very impersonal environment for the geese and stress them out a lot. But I wouldn’t be above trying it if it were raised traditionally on a small farm.

    I feel the same way about veal. I have no moral objection to eating a baby cow, as long as it wasn’t locked away in a crate its entire life. I don’t care how white the meat is and I see no point in being cruel to an animal for that purpose (or any other, really).

    Incidentally, for as much as she loves animal fat, the author of that book appears to be within her normal weight range. Just another data point.

    I’ve heard about hunter-gatherers who had bad teeth–guess when it happens? When they’re run off their best hunting grounds by farmers. Or when they’re fed agricultural or industrial food. Otherwise, they might do things that wear their teeth down, but they don’t get decay per se. I think at the end of the day nutrition is far more important for dental health than hygiene is. Weston Price found traditional kids with “green slime,” as he put it, on their teeth–and nary a cavity to be seen.

    Dana wrote on June 2nd, 2011
  38. You can brush with coconut oil…

    Dave, RN wrote on June 2nd, 2011
  39. The Dr. Ellie Phillips blog is chocked full of useful information. She recommends xylitol and fluoride rinse so she is not a paleo purist but she discusses PH and the acid-alkali balance.

    Do bacteria really “eat” teeth? As I understand it their metabolic products acidify teeth but acid is the ultimate cause of decay.

    Cayte wrote on June 2nd, 2011
  40. I switched to a non-fluoride toothpaste (fennel, all ‘natural’)a while ago. It had an instant effect on my teeth – they no longer take up the stain from the peppermint tea that I drink. Many years ago I adopted a conventional mouthwash to keep my breath fresh – it caused terrible staining on my teeth, so I quickly dropped it. My theory is that these harsh, conventional products were totally disrupting the natural bacterial balance in my mouth, allowing the proliferation of some strain or strains that promoted staining. (My father is a retired dentist and told me once that uptake of staining on tooth enamel is largely determined by the bacterial colonies that essentially take up residence while we are in infancy and exploring the world with our mouths.) My current dentist is very impressed with the results and was surprised that it stemmed from a switch away from fluoride. I’m convinced that getting the right bacterial balance has significance beyond gut (=> immune, hormonal, etc) health.

    Vicky wrote on June 2nd, 2011

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