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

Beyond Sugar and Soda: Nutritional Cures for Damaged Teeth

Teeth - X-rayThis is another special guest post from our favorite study-dismantler, Denise Minger. Read all of her previous Mark’s Daily Apple articles here, here, here, here, and here, pay her website a visit, and grab a copy of her new book Death by Food Pyramid: How Shoddy Science, Sketchy Politics and Shady Special Interests Ruined Your Health. Enter Denise…

When you’re a teenager, a tad cocky about your flossing-and-brushing prowess, and a proud worshipper at the altar of Colgate, the last thing you want to hear is that you might need dentures by the time you’re thirty.

Unfortunately, that’s the exact situation I found myself in one fateful November day. I was seventeen. It’d been a full year since I’d become a strict, low-fat, fruit-noshing raw vegan — led there by a cocktail of food allergies and dewy-eyed trust in people from the internet (bad idea is bad). Perhaps too distracted by my constant brain fog, perpetual shivering, and the clumps of hair making a mass exodus from my scalp, I’d failed to notice the prime victim of my lopsided diet: my teeth.

Up until then, I had pleasant associations with the ol’ dental chair. My mouth had only ever seen one cavity — a fluke in an otherwise pleasing track record. I’d never missed a day of flossing. I’d never needed braces. For me, dentist visits were an opportunity for people to tell me nice things and make me feel good about myself, even if I’d gotten too old for their goodie drawer of parachute men and Lisa Frank stickers.

So when that familiar praise didn’t come, the blow was all the more devastating. After a series of “hmms” and heavy sighs, my dentist delivered the news: a grand total of sixteen cavities — more of an estimate, really, because the cavities-sprouting-from-cavities nature of the damage made it hard to count. Massive wear capped the surfaces of my back teeth, and my front ones were becoming translucent from enamel loss. Unsightly recession plagued my once-healthy gums.

The dentist didn’t mince words when telling me he’d never seen someone so young with such a terrifying mouth — and it’d all happened in the span of one year.

The next few months involved five trips back to that same chair: four to drill the heck out of all the quadrants of my mouth, and one to grind down the misaligned bite I’d acquired from my new ceramic fillings. But that was only the beginning. Nearly as soon as I’d gotten the old cavities cleaned up, new ones started forming. My teeth continued their rapid decline. The bacteria-filled “gum pockets” crawled deeper from bone loss. I knew a drill wasn’t going to be enough to save me.

To this day, I’ve never seen a group of people with such rapidly imploding dental health as the raw vegans. Even studies of their pearly whites seem to confirm that. It’s like some sort of hazing ritual, in which the Cavity Fairy comes and sprinkles decay upon the mouths of new recruits. But the problems I encountered as a raw vegan were far from unique to meat-free, non-cooking mouths, and neither were the solutions I eventually found. For most of us, even those of a real food/primal/Paleo/ancestral persuasion, decades of subpar eating, overzealous brushing, and other teeth-harming practices have left us with some damage to fix. It’s my hope that sharing the details of my own healing journey will help some of you on yours.

(This is probably the part where I should insert a disclaimer to protect my patooty from a lawsuit: dental problems can be quite serious, and if you’re experiencing something debilitating or extremely painful or infection-related, you should probably head to a dentist instead of reading this. Also, floss. Just do it.)

Zig-Zags and Prongs

Let me make one thing clear: my road to healing wasn’t linear. It had lots of loop-de-loops and mistakes and nights spent staring in the mirror, lips rolled over my teeth, convincing myself I would still be an okay person if I looked like Gumby. There were moments after trying things I was sure should work — adding more calcium to my diet, cutting down on fruit, eating pounds of kale — where I almost threw in the towel and resigned to a life of oral misery.

But eventually, I went from embracing mainstream beliefs about dental health — that cavities can’t heal, that calcium is the biggest tooth-relevant nutrient, that candy and soda are the only foods you need to worry about — to doing a 180 on all those fronts, and feeling pretty confident in the ability for teeth to regenerate. For anyone out there who’s struggling with dental issues, no matter how severe, don’t give up hope.

Ultimately, my own tooth-healing saga, as accidental and fumbling as it was at the time, became something of a two-pronged approach. The first prong was protecting my chompers from the outside in, minimizing sources of external damage. The second prong involved rebuilding my teeth internally, with many delicious things. (That prong was a lot more fun.) Here’s the full story.

Protect and Defend

In real-food circles, when you see an article about fermented foods, usually there are lots of exclamation points and pictures of beautiful bubbly sauerkraut, and testimonies about the slew of benefits those fermented things brought, and there is happiness. So much happiness. For that reason, what I’m about to say might get me booed off the cyber-stage:

Fermented foods wrecked my teeth.

Okay, that’s a bit hyperbolic, especially considering my teeth were already wrecked to begin with. But when I unveganized, as part of my early healing attempts, I went hog wild on all things kimchi and sauerkraut — convinced the beneficial bacteria would do something awesome for my teeth and hair and everything else on me that was broken.

What happened instead was pain, and lots of it. I used to sit at the kitchen table with a heaping bowl of gingery, zangy, raw, delightful kimchi, convinced it was the best thing I could be forking into my mouth. A few bites in, my mouth would seize up with sharp, dagger-like pain, evocative of what it might feel like to give birth through one’s jaw while also being electrocuted. The pain was so bad that it made “dentures by the time you’re thirty” sound like a pretty good idea.

Perhaps it was my raging kimchi addiction that kept me blind to reality, but it took months of wincing before I realized those fermented veggies were making my teeth more sensitive, and worsening the damage I was desperately trying to fix. And after a little research, it was easy to see why: sauerkraut and kimchi have a pH of about 3.5, making them extremely acidic upon contact with your chompers — and capable of chewing through enamel with the best of ‘em. That’s about the same pH level as soft drinks like Coke and Pepsi.

(High-school science refresher, in case you slept through that lesson: a pH of 7 is considered neutral; anything higher is alkaline, and anything lower is acidic. Foods with pH levels below 5.3 start entering the “enamel damage” territory, especially if your teeth are already in a compromised state.)

Not surprisingly, my tooth pain resolved pretty fast after I started limiting fermented vegetables and other highly acidic foods, especially fruits I hadn’t realized had such a low pH. I can eat those things now without any problem — at least in moderation; I still have to keep my inner kimchi-gorger in check — but during the early phases of healing, I had to be pretty cautious about giving my mouth an unintentional acid bath.

In case you’re curious, here’s a list of some of the low-pH foods that ended up on my “limit” list for a couple of years. You’ll notice a lot of fruit on there. Given that my own teeth healing occurred with a diet packed with low-acid fruits (papaya and melons, largely), I tend to think the acidity of fruit is a bigger problem than its sugar content, as far as dental health goes. (Values taken from a list produced by the FDA.)

Apples: 3.3-3.9
Apricots: 3.3-4.0
Blackberries: 3.9-4.5
Blueberries: 3.1-3.3
Cherries: 3.2-4.1
Frozen cherries: 3.3-3.4
Dill pickles: 3.2-3.7
Grapes: 2.8-3.8
Grapefruit: 3.0-3.8
Ketchup: 3.9
Lemon juice: 2.0-2.6
Lime juice: 2.0-2.8
Mangoes: 3.4-4.8
Nectarines: 3.9-4.2
Olives (green, fermented—black fresh or canned ones have a pH of at least 6): 3.6-4.6
Peaches: 3.3-4.1
Pears (Bartlett): 3.5-4.6
Pineapple: 3.2-4.0
Plums: 2.8-4.5
Pomegranate: 2.9-3.2
Raspberries: 3.2-3.7
Sauerkraut: 3.3-3.6
Strawberries: 3.0-3.9
Tangerine: 3.3-4.5
Tomatoes (canned): 3.5-4.7
Vinegar: 2.4-3.4
Orange juice: 3.3-4.2
Red wine: 3.4
White wine: 3.0

Along with limiting acidic foods, I picked up a few other tricks of the trade to protect my teeth from outside invaders. I stopped brushing immediately after meals (apparently, scrubbing enamel before it remineralizes is no bueno). If I did have a moment of weakness and invade the kimchi jar, I would swish afterwards with water and baking soda to raise my mouth’s pH. Boom! Sensitivity averted. And instead of using whitening toothpastes or other commercial whiteners to combat stains from chain-drinking tea, I started brushing with activated charcoal, which is gentle and miraculous. Seriously. I’m not kidding. It’s amazing.

But those things were only bandaid fixes — ways to prevent my teeth from getting worse, but not really doing much to help them heal. The other leg of my journey was nutritional.

Rebuilding: A Triage of Fat-Solubles

As a vegan, it is, by several universal laws, a requirement to hate the Weston A. Price Foundation. It doesn’t really matter why that hatred is there, so long as it’s strong and vocalized at every relevant opportunity.

In my case, even after my departure from veganism, I maintained my WAPF-hating duties like a champ. How dare they put a picture of happy people on their webpage! How dare they eat butter! How dare they use… words… and colors. Despicable. I gradually ran out of reasons for my loathing, and after seeing virtually no improvement in my teeth after guzzling calcium supplements and dark leafy greens, decided to peruse their articles on dental healing. That’s when the pieces started clicking together in a big way.

As I learned from a few WAPF articles, three fat-soluble vitamins — A, D, and K2 — tend to be the holy trinity for all things teeth. I wrote a bit about these nutrients on an earlier article directed towards raw vegans, but the nutshell version is that they work synergistically to support bone and tooth health, boost calcium absorption, and shuttle calcium where it needs to go. My own experience confirmed what I’ve heard time and time again from other self-healers of teeth: this combo works some small miracles.

(A special note on K2: hopefully everyone in this little corner of the food world has heard about this lovely nutrient, but if you haven’t, you owe yourself a research safari. A great book on the topic is “Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox” by Kate Rheaume-Bleue, and plenty of online resources abound — including some earlier posts here on Mark’s Daily Apple.)

During Operation Save My Teeth, before I knew anything about fat-soluble vitamins, one of the first non-vegan foods I’d added to my diet was “probiogurt” — a raw, 30-hour fermented goat yogurt I ordered from a farm in Austin. It was also the first food that actually pleased my pearly whites: within a week of adding it to my diet, the translucent tips on my teeth became more opaque, and my nagging, chewing-induced sensitivity began to quell. Unfortunately, I’d stopped eating the yogurt on account of the farm becoming terrible and scammy and no longer shipping the orders I’d paid for.

At the time, I figured the yogurt’s benefit had just been from its calcium content, and was genuinely baffled when supplementing didn’t do diddly squat. Oh, ignorance.

Enter the WAPF website and its vitamin K2 revelations. Epiphany time! As I read about this precious nutrient, it suddenly made sense: vitamin K2 is a product of bacterial fermentation, and the “probiogurt” I’d been eating was likely teeming with it. It was probably the first food-based source of K2 my body had seen in years. After that “aha” moment, I started religiously supplementing with vitamin K2 — 5 milligrams a day from Carlson Labs. (That’s still the brand and dosage I use to this day.)

Shazzam. Practically overnight, my teeth felt smoother, looked whiter, and lost a great deal of their painful sensitivity. And at my next dental cleaning, the hygienist confirmed a turn for the better: some of my “irreversibly” lost enamel was thickening; a few pre-cavity trouble spots were filling in on their own; and the periodontal pockets that’d been getting gradually worse were suddenly tightening back up — jumping from measurements of 4-5 millimeters on most teeth to 2-3. My lost-cause mouth was suddenly not so lost. Allow me to repeat: shazzam!

(Apart from supplementing, other K2 sources include natto, hard cheeses, soft cheeses, butter from pastured cows, egg yolks, liver, and probably other organ meats — K2 analyses are pretty sparse for most foods. Since I don’t do dairy anymore, my main non-pill source is liver. Speaking of which…)

Along with vitamin K2, one of the most pivotal edibles in my dental saga has been liver. As far as “building strong bones” goes, I’m pretty sure those Got Milk? ads should feature people with paté moustaches instead of milk smears, though something tells me that might ding sales. I really can’t praise liver enough. Along with being a decent source of vitamin K2, it’s awesomely high in vitamin A — something in short supply on vegan diets and even some omnivorous ones, depending on how wisely the animal foods are selected.

For the last few years, I’ve wobbled back and forth between taking cod liver oil (this kind’s my favorite) and eating free-range chicken liver a few times per week, and the result is the same: the benefits I already see from taking vitamin K2 get an even bigger boost. Whiter color, smoother tooth surface, less plaque build-up, less sensitivity, happier hygienists when I go in for a cleaning. When I slack off on the liver too long, my teeth are the first to chide me for it.

And last but not least, the third member of the fat-soluble gang: vitamin D. As a resident of the gorgeous but gloomful Northwest, vitamin D has been a lifesaver for me, maybe literally. After I moved out of Arizona in 2008 and landed in Portland, I started taking between 1,000 and 3,000 IU of vitamin D per day, depending on how quickly I manage to dash outside when the sun makes its forty-second cameo appearance. (There are plenty of feuding opinions on the best dosage, but in terms of maintaining the state of my teeth, that’s been my sweet spot.) Although the benefits I’ve experienced from vitamin D have been most noticeable in the realm of mental health (e.g., taking it helps me not be a Seasonal-Affective-Disordered zombie from October to March), I’ve noticed a decline in the state of my teeth when my bottle runs out and I don’t replace it for a few weeks. So, on my shelf it stays.

Flash Forward

It’s been a whoppin’ decade since I took my first bite away from raw veganism and towards better health, and seven years since the condition of my teeth really stabilized in a happy place. Of course, my mouth will probably never return to the pristine state it once held; I still have ups and downs when I’m not vigilant with the fat-solubleness of my diet, and I need more frequent cleanings than the average bear. But I’m 27 now, and all the teeth in my mouth are still mine. In three years, I expect it’ll still be that way.

(And if not, I’ll totally become that crazy lady who whips out her dentures at random moments and frightens the children. Win-win.)

Learn More About Denise Minger’s New Book Death by Food Pyramid: How Shoddy Science, Sketchy Politics and Shady Special Interests Ruined Your Health Here>>

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. I wondered what other fruits are low-acid. I am surprised to see that so much of the fruit I eat is acidic, such as apples.

    Alice wrote on May 28th, 2014
    • I think almost all fruit is at least somewhat acidic. The melon family might be an exception. IMO, fruit is meant to be somewhere near the peak of the Paleo pyramid. It should be thought of as dessert, not a dietary staple like vegetables. I’m not a big fruit eater; no one in my family is, and we are all healthy. I normally eat a small piece of fruit or a handful of berries every day or sometimes once every couple of days, but some cultures eat fruit only now and then–say, once a week or once a month–and they aren’t harmed by the lack of it.

      Shary wrote on May 28th, 2014
      • If my canning guides are correct, figs are non-acidic.

        Angie wrote on May 29th, 2014
    • What you have done with the supplements is probably an overkill.

      I don’t take supplements or vitamins of any kind. My tooth decay and dental plaque stopped 15 years ago on a high animal fat low carb (no wheat!) diet. I do eat fermented vegetables, occasionally. I never had to have a dental work done ever since, only a checkup once around 2003. I am 58. When the sides of two of my old filled molars broke off 7 years ago on nuts, exposing the core, I did nothing – the teeth sealed themselves with something resembling enamel, after a few months.

      Plant based diet is dental loss, animal fat based diet is dentist’s loss!

      Best Regards,


      WAPF rocks!

      Stan (Heretic) Bleszynski wrote on June 10th, 2014
      • Thank You for this comment , I totally agree with You ! Fat is the key to optimum health. The fat free ,high grain , carbohydrate mentality is killing ALL … Best wishes Heretic

        Saia wrote on August 23rd, 2014
  2. I’m sorry since you are both probably otherwise involved but for the good of humanity Denise Minger and Robb Wolf are going to have to have a child together. That way there will be at least one human being on this planet both smart enough to decide what to have for lunch and cook it too :)

    Groktimus Primal wrote on May 28th, 2014
  3. Very inspiring, and really informative! Thanks for sharing this with us all; I always knew about soda and candy being an issue, but somehow the acidity of ‘regular’ foods like fruit and vinegar consistently slip my mind…
    I have a question; as a lactose-intolerant vegetarian, if I wanted to take some of these vitamin supplements, would they still work? If dairy isn’t part of the picture, as long as there’s still plenty of fat in my diet from nuts, seeds, avocados, oils, etc, will these fat-soluble vitamins still do their job? Thanks!

    Logie wrote on May 28th, 2014
    • All fat-soluble (non-polar and hydrophobic) substances should dissolve in all liquid-state lipids (also non-polar and hydrophobic, which imply each other), yes.

      Bill C wrote on May 28th, 2014
      • *two thumbs up* Rockin’! Thanks, Bill.

        Logie wrote on May 29th, 2014
    • You might want to have a look at RAW milk. It is NOT the same critter that you buy in the grocery store. Many people that are lactose intolerant can drink raw milk without problem (there is an enzyme [lactase] that neutralizes the lactose but is totally destroyed by pasteurization).

      Bill Leach wrote on June 6th, 2014
      • I will testify that raw milk is awesome. I happen to have the good fortune of living in a place where it’s legally available, and I go to a local farmer’s store to buy it.

        I stopped drinking milk at age 14 when I began running cross-country in high school. Years later I found that whenever I tried to consume something milk-based (whether ice cream — sinner, yes! — or a Bailey’s Irish Cream, etc) I got, shall we say, vile gastro-intestinal side effects. But I have to tell you that I have absolute zero problems with raw milk, and I love using it to make smoothies.

        Freelancelot wrote on June 7th, 2014
  4. This is so useful, thank you! As a 29 year old with osteoporosis due to cancer (cancer is now in remission) I’m working on building back my bones and my teeth. I have a feeling that these suggestions will help enormously with building back my bone strength.

    Kristin wrote on May 28th, 2014
    • I started drinking a lot of homemade bone broth awhile back. I had wear spots on my teeth remineralize. I was pleasantly surprised. Good luck with your bone building!

      Wendy wrote on May 28th, 2014
      • Hey Wendy, could you share how you made the bone broth? Thanks.

        Barbara wrote on June 7th, 2014
    • You can also increase bone density and ligament strength with weight training. Its something else to consider as you go along.

      Bushrat wrote on May 31st, 2014
    • bone broth is good for bones/joins/teeth (skin too!)


      pam wrote on June 17th, 2014
  5. Oh Denise, where were you 5 years ago? Great stuff. I’m on the Wapf bandwagon now and my teeth are becoming wonderful at the ripe ‘ol age of 57. It really is a miracle when we add K-2.

    Nocona wrote on May 28th, 2014
  6. Fantastic article, thank you so much for the insight on the fat soluble vitamins, I’m going to research adding some Vitamin K2 myself.

    P.S. You are freakin’ hilarious! Thanks for the laughs along with the info :)

    Ashley wrote on May 28th, 2014
  7. Does anyone here GRIND your teeth? What causes this? I am 50, have been grinding since childhood. I have been doing the D/K2 for many years. My teeth are strong, but small from the grinding. Thx!! BTW…my dentist wants to put 7 crowns on my lower teeth, 5 on my upper, and at $19K, I just want to learn to stop grinding.

    Kamber wrote on May 28th, 2014
    • Grinding can be caused my many things – stress is a big one. Your dentist should look into giving you a night guard to protect your teeth at night first. Look into ways you can reduce stress levels and get better sleep too (ie reducing caffeine) – it might help.

      Jen wrote on May 28th, 2014
      • Thanks Jen-I have been wearing nightguards for over 10 years. I am allergic to colly ffee and drink little caffeine. Light to moderate stress. I used to be reahigh stress. My sleep is good. I think stress and and/or toxins???

        Kamber wrote on May 28th, 2014
        • Kamber, fly to Costa Rica, have a vacation, get your teeth fixed for $2,000 and have $17,000 left over for some raw dairy and grass fed meat.

          Nocona wrote on May 28th, 2014
        • Going to Costa Rica will save you money, but you need to be sure the work they do can be followed up and maintained in the US, that is unless you are planning on returning annually. I know someone who had $10,000 worth of implants done in CR…they were a total botch job. So be carefull…

          Steven wrote on May 28th, 2014
        • Stress may be a factor but most people have some stress in their life and not everyone grinds their teeth. I started grinding my teeth when I was 18, living on my own, and eating an extremely poor (student budget) diet. Mostly white carbs. My dentist suggested a night guard as a solution but the one I was given misaligned my jaw and left it hurting even more. Night guards can help place a barrier between your teeth but in my opinion it’s like a band-aid — it just covers up the problem, doesn’t stop the grinding or treat the cause behind it. After some research I found a few studies that show that people (and pigs) grind their teeth when they have a diet low in magnesium.

          What finally stopped my nightly grinding (and the blinding morning headaches that came with it) was a combination of a magnesium supplement and spray. I buy a generic brand supplement and use Ancient Minerals magneisum “oil”. It’s not really an oil — more like a silky water. Once I started using both of those daily the grinding stopped and only returns if I eat a lot of grains, sugar, or vegetable oils – all of which you’re probably avoiding already. After about one month I was back to normal, no more headaches or stiff jaw muscles in the morning, plus I was sleeping much better. And it completely eradicated my menstrual symptoms which had been terrible up until then. Pretty amazing stuff, magnesium.

          Marie wrote on May 28th, 2014
        • Hi, I think it can be related to a B vitamin deficiency, I think, B5. I agree with the magnesium glycinate and mag oil, which absorbs quicker. Also, iron may be related. You need to get four different iron labs checked. I can’t remember them right off the top of my head, so google, iron panel. God bless.

          Barbara wrote on June 8th, 2014
        • Oh yeah, B Vitamins need to be taken in B Complex for best absorption. Also, the parasite thing is real and you should find a natural/alternative/functional medicine doctor who’ll look for parasites and treatment with meds.

          Barbara wrote on June 8th, 2014
      • My seven year old son grinds his teeth in his sleep, what can be done about this?

        ra wrote on May 30th, 2014
        • For me, grinding teeth is about gut health. Since he’s a child, I’d say probiotics and some more outdoor play in the dirty soil and some mud wrestling! Eating fruits that are known to harbor probiotics… grapes… strawberries.. without too much neurotic washing and with a bit of neglect so they get a bit overripe (organic of course) helps me, but I’m an adult. and my body can handle a bit of fun. It is the time for pick your own….
          When it gets too bad, I take a laxative to clear out and start over, and wear a sport guard to bed.

          Lisa wrote on June 12th, 2014
    • I’ve heard grinding can mean parasites.

      Casey wrote on May 28th, 2014
      • In my case, teeth grinding means I’m married. I’m serious. I didn’t start grinding my teeth until I got married. I’ve been divorced twice, and quit grinding my teeth each time. I’ve been married to my 3rd husband for 17 years, and started grinding my teeth again a few months into the marriage……

        b2curious wrote on May 28th, 2014
        • Yeah, marriage can do that…there ought to be a warning label….I have this urge to yell out to you to stop getting married. You seem to be inducing stress on yourself when you say, “I do”….

          Laura wrote on May 28th, 2014
        • Maybe it’s the sharing of your bed, as opposed to the sharing of your life? Having someone else disturbing your sleep with elbows, legs and stealing bedding can lead to a stressful, disruptive sleep!

          LyndaF wrote on May 31st, 2014
      • In Paul Chek’s DVD series on Fungus, Parasites, etc., he discussed how teeth grinding can be a parasitic symptom.

        Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on May 28th, 2014
      • You can take papaya seeds or soursop against parasites and to improve your digestive system.

        oscar wrote on October 16th, 2014
    • You’ll get the medical answer on why you grind your teeth, but I’m going to give you the real answer. That is, you probably have problems with your feet that you aren’t aware of.

      I am 50 years old and up until a few years ago, I ground my teeth to the point of actually splitting a molar in half. Literally. Doctors don’t know what they don’t know. And the reason why people develop TMJ is because of a fascial tissue imbalance between the front and back of your body. You have fascial trains that run from the tip of your head to the bottom of your feet. That train can become tightened when you develop postural deficiencies. Those are often associated with foot problems. I personally suffered from Morton’s Toe. I put a small pad under my metatarsal bone of my large toes and Rolfed myself back to health. No more teeth grinding. My TMJ completely disappeared.

      Btw, I first knew I had TMJ because I had a hip injury and a physical therapist was messing with my hips and my jaw locked later that day. That tension in your jaw is what causes grinding. However it develops, it is not what mainstream medicine believes. My hip injury was a direct result of feet problems.

      Barry wrote on May 28th, 2014
    • I wanted to respond to you about the grinding. I am a Chiropractor and I work on a lot of patients who have this problem. What I teach them to do is relax their jaw during the day because most of them “clench” during the day and grind at night. If that is you, then try this: Put a reminder in your phone to beep at you every hour and ask “Am I clenching?”. Clenching is holding your teach together. The correct rest position of your jaw, the position your jaw is supposed to be in all day long, is teeth apart, lips together, tongue resting on the roof of your mouth (like you are going to say the letter “N”), and breathing in and out through your nose. You should be doing this all day long. If you are not, and your teeth are together, then you are clenching. Most of the time if I can get my patient to stop clenching during the day, then they stop at night. Also, you may want to get a night guard because it is better to grind on the night guard than your own teeth. Best of luck!

      Justin wrote on May 28th, 2014
      • Dr. Justin-you are spot on with the clenching or catching myself doing that during the day. I will set a timer, that is a good idea. I feel it is related to stress/toxins and somehow the adrenals. Since caffeine is a huge stressor for me.

        Nocona-love that idea!!

        Got rid of the parasites years ago, and had my feet/posture taken care of.
        You guys are great! Thx! :)

        Kamber wrote on May 28th, 2014
        • I also grind my teeth, even when I’m managing my stress, eating well, and getting plenty of sleep. I have a night guard, but I’ve also noticed that forcing myself to relax my jaw during the day (since I used to clench it when I was studying) helps prevent grinding at night.

          Hope it works for you, Kamber!

          Jenny wrote on May 28th, 2014
      • I take spells of biting my tongue at night. Horrible. Sometimes I even bring blood, then of course, my tongue swells, and I have to be careful not to bite it again. I don’t know what brings it on, because it’s intermittent, and I may go a long time without doing this, then start right up again.

        Karen wrote on May 28th, 2014
    • Just me, probably…but I started to grind my teeth about the time my thyroid started to fail. By the time I was diagnosed I had broken a molar. Lots of neuro involvement for me…nighttime unsteadiness, choking on saliva, daytime brain fog, visual disturbances, all-the-time tremors. The grinding–and everything else–gradually abated after I started thyroid supplementation (Armour Thyroid, actually). You might want to get it checked out.

      Nannsi wrote on May 28th, 2014
    • We retired to Panama and recently I started same work same number upper and lower. Didn’t have another option. I am 70. Cost here approx. $6,000 but get a 20% discount for senior rate. Crowns are $450 each. In Panama City each crown is $650. So there is an advantage where you have the work done here. You could get work done and have a vacation for a lot less that that $19K. My dentist is amazing. Young and practicing for 9 years.

      Ruby Tuesday wrote on May 28th, 2014
      • I have wanted to pursue medical/dental tourism in such places as Panama, but have been concerned about how to locate a reputable provider. Can you share the contact information of this dentist (and/or other medical sources) or how you go about screening them? Thanks so much. D

        Deb wrote on May 29th, 2014
        • Beware of medical tourism. I live in Guatemala, and was almost killed twice on operatig table for eylid lift. Told both med tour person and the dr. I was sensitive to xylocaine. Then turns out she used it anyway, and as I was waking up and my heart stopped, she gave me more. Over dose of 2x, and my heart stopped twice. She was upset with me because the procedure took too long. Same issue with dentists.
          I had an implant done here in Guate, so I called the local dental schools and interviewed the head of the implant department. Another way is to call a good number of practitioners that have been trained in US or European schools, and see who has the busier schedule. Choose your restaurant on the highway by the number of cars in the lot. Most of the practitioners that use medical tourism representatives cant get a decent living from a caseload they build on their local reputation. Med Tourism reps get a percentage or other fee based on providing suckers, uh, I mean clients.

          Barb wrote on October 19th, 2014
    • I used to grind my teeth. I would wake up with a sore jaw. Turned out that a dairy allergy was the cause. When I stopped eating dairy, I stopped grinding my teeth!

      Mike wrote on May 28th, 2014
    • My dentist suggested magnesium deficiency as a cause for grinding. Sure enough, we added a mag supplement and his grinding stopped almost immediately. Most of the population is mag deficient anyway, so it is worth a try!

      almamater wrote on May 28th, 2014
    • Regarding dental appliances. Make sure your dental appliance fits on the front of your mouth, there’s less bite pressure in the front of mouth, where your teeth in the back are very powerful. Full bite guards (on back teeth) still allow you to grind and chew up the guard they don’t allow the muscles doing the grinding to relax. Research before asking dentist, know what you need and insist on it.

      Dana wrote on May 28th, 2014
    • I started grinding at about age 10. It woke the whole house. (everyone but me!)
      Our dentist suggested wearing a moldable (after boiling in water) silicone football mouth guard when sleeping.
      After just a few weeks I didn’t need it any longer.
      I have heard this to be a common way to resolve this problem.

      Gregory Lowrey wrote on May 29th, 2014
    • Hi there re: grinding or clenching. I went through this and through looking for the best ‘mouthguard’… I had an “N.T.I’ acrylic made for me by my wonderful dentist. It is small, and prevents grinding ON the appliance because it is only over the front teeth. Mine lower. Easy to sleep with. The end of clenching and helps my neck pain also. Most mouthguards allow clenching to simply continue because there is that surface covering all teeth! crazy!

      cath wrote on May 29th, 2014
    • Did you have braces as a teenager? Are you missing several teeth? Are you a horizontal or vertical grinder? How far down is the wear on your teeth? Is it into the dentin? Teeth can remineralize, in fact, but not on chewing surfaces. Tooth wear is a complex and expensive problem to fix.

      Stephen M Lawrence DMD wrote on May 30th, 2014
    • I can say that grinding your teeth can be caused by your bite being off. I am 30 and have ground my teeth all my life. My mom said I ground my teeth so bad she could here me in the other room. I went to a holistic dentist and he fixed my bite. I do have to wear a night guard, it is different than the ones you get from a regular dentist. My gums would bleed real bad, too. Once my bite was fixed, they stopped. My headaches stopped, too. Go to a holistic dentist and have him/her check your bite. Check around if the one near you is expensive. I travel 3 hours away because it is cheaper than going to the one closer to me, even with traveling expenses.

      Hope wrote on June 2nd, 2014
      • What kind of night guard is it? Brand name, style, material, etc.?

        Lois wrote on June 2nd, 2014
        • What the dentist did was fix my bite, take a mold of my top AND bottom teeth. Separately and when I bit down. Then, they had a mold made from all those impressions to fit my mouth with my bite aligned. I had had a night guard when I was a teenager and it felt different and actually helps. It not only helps keep you from grinding, but it also keeps you bite aligned when you sleep. My bite was off so much I had to take several trips to the dentist. Before, I would go to a chiropractor to put my jaw back in place, but as soon as I walked out the door, it was out again. So, it is different than your jaw being out. Eating certain foods can cause inflammation there, too and make it worse. It is not one you just buy, they make it specifically for you. There should be a waiting period after they make an impression. I would limit the amount of sugar and grains, too. That helps me as well. But getting my bite fixed was the biggest help. I hope this helps.

          Hope wrote on June 2nd, 2014
    • There can be a lot of causes for grinding. My dentist told me I was “grinding my molars into oblivion” and fit me with a night-guard. It’s important to get one that actually does not allow you to go through the action of grinding at night, one that allows your teeth to separate, and your jaw to rest and learn new patterns. Mine has been life-changing! So far, no crowns either. Best $800 I ever spent. Good luck!

      River wrote on June 5th, 2014
    • Magnesium deficiency can cause tooth grinding – I’ve found that taking magnesium taurate helps a lot.

      angelfish wrote on April 26th, 2015
    • Have you checked for parasites? If I remember correctly Paul Pitchford author or Healing with Whole Foods says tooth grinding can be due to parasites. Do you notice if it happens in the early AM? Any itching? Do you wake unusually early? Do you have signs of toxins, irritability, brain fog? Are you fine for a week or two, then feel crappy…in cycles?

      Andrejka wrote on August 16th, 2016
  8. Thanks for this post. I don’t have many problems with my teeth but I’m a firm believer in not waiting until I have problems with them when I can act now!

    Scott Hassall wrote on May 28th, 2014
  9. Great article! As a current dental student who eats paleo, I feel that nutrition is often overlooked when it comes to oral health. It is truly unfortunate, as food can clearly have such a large impact on cavities and periodontal disease! I knew about the detrimental effect of acidic foods but never considered the importance of fat-soluble vitamins. I will definitely be sharing this article with my colleagues.

    Jen wrote on May 28th, 2014
  10. Would love to keep seeing articles from Denise. Hope everyone has read death by food pyramid, it’s brilliant!

    jamie wrote on May 28th, 2014
    • +1

      Nocona wrote on May 28th, 2014
  11. Thank you for introducing me to Crunchy Betty and the concept of activated charcoal. Off to the health food store I go.

    Sophia wrote on May 28th, 2014
  12. i have been reading about drinking borax 1/8 of a teaspoon disolved in a liter of water 5 days yes and two days no.
    taking it as a regular drink during the day.
    this will strenght your teeth and bones.

    alan wrote on May 28th, 2014
    • So true, Alan.
      After reading Mr Last’s article on Borax, at least four years ago, I began taking a small amount of it daily, probably about 1/16-1/8 tsp a day.
      Recently I had to visit a new dentist for a root canal and he insisted on taking a facial X-ray. Who’s to argue. He kept saying I had very strong bones, at least six or seven times during the examination. I was too concerned during the preparation to ask questions, but the next appointment I asked him if he meant strong bones for my age. He replied “For any age”.
      I have always been on the chubby size, never one for heavy exercise and I have never liked milk. I’ve always had a sweet tooth though I do temper it.
      I have never had good teeth and was surprised and wondered if in this late stage in my life, I am sixty-four, as the song goes, the borax is now at least strengthening my bones and possibly living teeth areas. He told me that the outer teeth could not be strengthened by anything once mature. Not sure about that, but . . .
      I occasionally take up to a teaspoon as a cleans and the first time I did this I saw white stringy things in my movement. It did not seem to bother my system in this amount.
      I use it in my laundry, a solution of it in my shower to wash, with my baking soda to lightly brush my teeth & gargle, and I add a little to my Xylitol and water concoction for keeping my sinus problems at bay, and then spray in my eyes, eyebrows (immediately stopped the eyebrow itch).
      Xylitol is also purported to strengthen bones and teeth. I have been using Xylitol for at least seven years and have not had a cold, flue or even a sniffle in all this time. Amazing for me.
      As Walter suggests, many think borax is a poison, but to mammals it is not.
      If borax and Xylitol do strengthen bones and teeth, wouldn’t it be a wonderful addition for all ages, children especially. Imagine children never having cavities and having super strong teeth and bones.
      Namaste and care,

      mhikl wrote on May 12th, 2015
  13. The best way to prevent cavities in my opinion is to regularly rinse your mouth after every ingestion of food or drink. It is also important to scrub the tongue. This habit reduces the bacteria in the mouth and prevents bad breath (in addition to cavities). Every time I use the bathroom, I look in the mirror to ensure the tongue is not coated with gunk (it should look a pleasant pink). The problem with most people is that they regularly consume food and drink and then continue with their work, instead of rinsing their mouth. The dental expenditures in this country can be cut by more than half with just this simple change in habit (even those highly acidic fruit don’t have much time to do damage). I am almost 54 and have no cavities and only go to the dentist once a year for a cleaning and preventive checkup.

    ND wrote on May 28th, 2014
    • Good advice!

      Jason Luchtefeld wrote on May 28th, 2014
  14. This is a great video on how to remineralize your teeth.

    Bert Grosman wrote on May 28th, 2014
    • Great link, thanks! I was able to watch the first half and it has some great information.
      Thanks Mark, for another informative post.

      Kathy wrote on May 28th, 2014
  15. It’s always interesting to read articles about teeth!!

    Some good advice here and some questionable advice.

    There are some things we know:
    The cause of dental cavities. Bacteria + carbs = cavities.
    Hyposalivation increases cavity risk.
    Poor hygiene increases cavity risk.
    Frequent snacking on carbs/sugar increases cavity risk.
    Genetics have an influence.
    Some cavities can be “healed”
    Saliva naturally contains high levels of calcium and phosphate (which aid in remineralizing teeth).
    Fluoride helps make teeth even stronger.

    We’ve known these things for a long time.

    Put this all together and you end up with different recommendations for different people. If someone has multiple, large, active cavities then they need some fillings to fix the holes. They also need aggressive prevention strategies including homecare (brushing flossing rinsing), diet changes (less frequent snacking and less carbs/sugar/acid) and more visits to the friendly dentist/dental hygienist for monitoring.

    Baking soda + saltwater + peroxide = a great (and cheap) slurry to brush and/or rinse.

    I am happy to get into more detail if anyone is interested.


    Jason Luchtefeld wrote on May 28th, 2014
    • That’s the same typical advise you’ll hear from every CW dentist out there. It might be enough for those who already have healthy mouths and healthy diets, but for those of us who need to address major dental problems, brushing and flossing just won’t cut it. The fat soluble vitamins have to be added as well as plenty of protein and calcium.

      Casey wrote on May 28th, 2014
      • Major dental needs need to be addressed. A large cavity in a tooth will not self-heal. Along those same lines, putting a filling in a tooth does not change the risk factors that someone may have.

        So, you are correct that someone with major dental issues needs to institute major changes in their care and prevention.

        Jason Luchtefeld wrote on May 28th, 2014
      • Casey, you cannot remineralize chewing surfaces. If the bacterial infection has spread into the dentin, the correction, for most is restoration. A very few, like those on this site, will use the fat soluble vitamin, non acidic diet and neutral pH approach to arrest decay and prevent bacterial colony formation. The majority will not. Fluoride is bacteriocidal. We as dentists, have enough to do without getting into 15 minute discussions on nutrition with our patients that is not compensated. We, unfortunately, have businesses to run. Most patients expect any medical type discussions with dentists to be free. Try having several employees, rent, technology, health care, etc, and spend 2 hours a day discussing nutrition with patients to cut down on disease. I may spend anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, but patients are not all as educated as on this site. That is why I love savvy dental consumers.

        Stephen M Lawrence DMD wrote on May 30th, 2014
    • That fluoride is beneficial for teeth is debatable. If it does help teeth remineralize, etc. then I would still say the dangers to overall health outweigh the benefits to dental health. Here’s an interesting article about a Harvard study which shows fluoridated water lowers i.q,:

      tkm wrote on May 28th, 2014
      • I’ve read the study.

        Look closely at the fluoride levels evaluated and their sources.

        The results aren’t what the headline would indicate…

        Jason Luchtefeld wrote on May 28th, 2014
        • If you have a point to make, I’d rather you say it outright rather than being coy, with ellipses and all, expecting me to chase down the rabbit hole and find the information you are alluding to. Sorry, I don’t have time to read the entire 32-page study.

          Here’s what I know. This is the headline of the article:

          “Harvard Study Confirms Fluoride Reduces Children’s IQ”

          And this is the conclusion of study:

          “In conclusion, our results support the possibility of adverse effects of fluoride exposures on children’s neurodevelopment. Future research should formally evaluate dose-response relations based on individual-level measures of exposure over time, including more precise prenatal exposure assessment and more extensive standardized measures of neurobehavioral performance, in addition to improving assessment and control of potential confounders.”

          So these Harvard scientists have drawn the tentative conclusion that fluoride is toxic, and I see no discrepancy between that conclusion and the article’s headline. One could contend that the title oversimplifies the scientists’ position, but that’s a forgivable fault in a headline.

          So basically, fluoride is toxic. It’s not comparable to the arsenic in apples because the arsenic is in the seeds–which people don’t eat. And moreover, the reason they don’t eat them because it is well known that they contain arsenic. Yes, a trace amount of arsenic won’t kill you, but consumption should be avoided if possible. So it is with fluoride. A small dose may not significantly hurt you, but if it is a known toxin, it should be avoided. Who cares what the “source” is or what the “levels” are? Why purposefully ingest poison?

          tkm wrote on May 28th, 2014
    • Jason,

      Fluoride making teeth “stronger” is crap science. Fluoride is toxic to humans, AND to your teeth… try oil-pulling instead. If you want to “re-mineralize” your teeth, follow Denise’s suggestions.

      MR PALEO wrote on May 28th, 2014
      • Sorry Mr Paleo, but you must be looking at different data than I am…

        Fluoride has a long history of being very effective at aiding in remineralizing teeth.

        Arsenic is also toxic but we seem to be fine when consuming apples on a regular basis.

        Jason Luchtefeld wrote on May 28th, 2014
        • I think like a lot of nutrients flouride is ok in the trace amounts found naturally in food. The flouride they put in water and on your teeth is not the same thing, and is not good for you.
          We had flouride added to our water when my kids were younger and it caused flouridosis (white spots) on my older daughters teeth. I remember going to the dentist and having a hygienist comment on them, then try to push flouride rinse.
          Our city does not currently add flouride to our water, our current dentist does not use flouride at all in his practice and we use non fluoridated tooth paste and we have not had any cavities.
          We do eat really well with grassfed meat/dairy and organic or local veggies, and take vitamin d, our dental health is the best it’s ever been.

          Kathy wrote on May 28th, 2014
        • Just because the body can absorb and use a component doesn’t mean it is ideal. The body is full of contingency measures to function through starvation to survive until better days before detoxing and healing. Aluminum isn’t so great but can take the place of magnesium as a cofactor(could the senile folks with high levels of aluminum in their brains suffer from chronic magnesium deficiency?) Anemics are at greater risk of absorbing lead. Mercury -> selenium. Etc etc.

          Fluorine is a helpful trace mineral in food — fluoride in the drinking water is not the same animal. If you *need* it, something else is likely wrong or deficient. Incidentally, fluoride binds to magnesium preventing absorption.

          Oly wrote on May 29th, 2014
        • “Fluoride has a long history of being very effective at aiding in remineralizing teeth.”

          In what dietary context? Full-time moderate- to high-glycemic SAD?

          My present personal posture is that if you are on a low-carb diet free of added sugars and starches rapidly converted to glucose (e.g. grains), and low acidic, any dental benefits of added fluoride are nil.

          And I specifically question the consequences of added fluoride in thyroid health. Given that consensus medical mis-testing, mis-diagnosis and mis-treatment of thyroid is a festering scandal, it’s apt to be some time before we have a clear picture on this.

          Boundless wrote on May 29th, 2014
        • In adults – topical fluoride has proven save and effective for helping to remineralize teeth and reduce/eliminate sensitivity.

          Boundless, you are correct that a diet that minimizes carbs and frequent snacking (specifically of carb-rich food/drink) will reduce cavity risk significantly.

          Jason Luchtefeld wrote on May 29th, 2014
        • It’s the type of fluoride. Fluoride, yes is good. But the stuff they put in your toothpaste and in the water supply and the stuff at the dentist’s offices is not just fluoride. It is a by-product of the phosphate mines. Farmers complained about the fluoride gas killing their animals and crops and so they had to figure a way to get it into a liquid form. Then, they had all this liquid fluoride that just sat there. The water companies said they can buy it and put it in the water supply. This fluoride is called sodium fluoride. This is the same fluoride Hitler used to, in gas form, to kill Jews in the gas chambers. The fluoride that is in the above mentioned things is highly toxic. The element fluoride, however, is not. This here tells a few things about it:

          Hope wrote on June 2nd, 2014
  16. Thank you SO much for this info! I enjoyed the first 25 years of my life cavity free and am now in free fall. Fairly severe gum recession, a root canal, crown and many fillings later (some on the front of my teeth because the recession/sensitivity gets off the charts) I had no idea what to try. I’m making my own remineralizing toothpaste but even that hurts to use (I may mix in some activated charcoal powder to see if that helps. It currently has Calcium Carbonate, xylitol, coconut oil, baking soda and spearamint essential oil). I have a green smoothie every morning but it has cherries/blueberries and strawberries in it so I’ll have to change that up. I am already taking the Green Pastures CL/Butter Oil 2x day and just started taking grass fed liver powder capsules a week or two ago but I’ve only been taking 2 a day while the serving size is 6 pills – so I’ll be upping that to 3 in the AM and 3 at night. I ordered the K2 you recommending and I’ll be crossing fingers and toes that this can get better with NO MORE FILLINGS!

    Kristen wrote on May 28th, 2014
    • You many want to drop the spearamint. That may be causing the pain. Also, while everyone says to brush for at least 2 min, I find my teeth getting sensitive after doing that for a while. You may want to just brush your teeth long enough for them to feel clean, then quit.

      b2curious wrote on May 28th, 2014
      • Thanks for the info! Do you have an essential oil recommendation to replace the spearmint? I think I have peppermint, lavender and lemon and tea tree on hand.

        Kristen wrote on May 28th, 2014
        • I don’t really see the need for an essential oil, but I really don’t know that much about essential oils. Just looking at your ingredient list, the spearmint seemed like the most likely culprit for pain. Try your mix without any essential oils. If it does not cause any pain, then you know the oil is the culprit. If you still want an essential oil, try experimenting with what you have and see which, if any, can be used without pain. If your mix still causes pain, try it without one of the other ingredients, until you find what does or does not cause pain.

          I never had my dental health nose dive like yours did, but over a decade ago, every dental visit had a cavity (or more than one) that would likely need filled on the next visit and/or spot that needed watched. Shortly after a visit with several of both, someone posted to a forum I was on that she’d switched to using 2 parts baking soda and 1 part sea salt and it worked great for her, so I tried it. Next dental visit, about 6 months later, the spots that needed watched were gone and the ones that would likely need filled had become spots that needed to be watched. Next visit, in 6 months, those were gone. I mentioned to the hygienist what I was doing and she said not to use baking soda, it is too abrasive and would wear down my enamel. Hah! That’s not what the results of my checkups said.

          I don’t use baking soda anymore, just straight sea salt – don’t want to bother with mixing them. I haven’t had any problems for years. Back then, I was eating the standard American diet, but not a lot of processed junk. I did have a soda a day habit though, which I did not change with the change in brushing habits.

          b2curious wrote on May 28th, 2014
        • You might want to try clove oil, eugenol, if your teeth or gums are very sensitive. it is mildly anesthetic as well as being refreshing.

          Brendanyc wrote on September 6th, 2014
    • I use a bit of baking soda with a couple drops of oil of oregano, followed by a salt water rinse to brush a couple times a week. Simple and my teeth feel really clean. Oil of oregano works great to heal cuts, and is a natural antibacterial agent.
      Also make sure to use a soft toothbrush and brush gently, as rough brushing and too firm bristles aggravate the gums.

      Kathy wrote on May 28th, 2014
      • My dentist recommended an electric toothbrush for me since I tend to use too much pressure when brushing. It prevents destructive brushing.

        Kimberly wrote on May 29th, 2014
        • I hadn’t considered an electric toothbrush as a means of using less pressure when brushing. I may give that a try. Goodness knows they’re easier to find then the extra-soft, compact head toothbrushes that I use. I tend to brush too hard too, and my dentist suggested the extra-soft toothbrushes. The darned things were so hard to find for a while, that my dentish would give me enough to last until my next cleaning.

          b2curious wrote on May 29th, 2014
    • Drop the xylitol. You don’t need it and my dentist tells me that recent studies show it can be as wearing on the teeth as sugar. If your teeth are too sore for brushing you might try oil pulling for a while.

      Leslie wrote on May 30th, 2014
    • Go to – it works and will help with your nutritional changes .

      FDB wrote on May 30th, 2014
    • Be careful of the calcium carbonate–I think it could be too abrasive. I have made the same recipe and decided it was too abrasive for my teeth. Especially if I was brushing vigorously. I have gone back to brushing with a little bit of original Crest, soft brush, then rinse with old fashioned Listerine for antiseptic help and then rinse with ACT original. My mouth and teeth have improved. My gums are nice and pink and healthy, said my dentist just this week. I do eat Paleo/primal. I rinse my toothbrush in Listerine everytime and buy a new brush once a month. Stuff lingers on them. I am happy with this regime at the present. Good luck.

      Janet wrote on May 30th, 2014
    • Hi Kristen. It looks like you and I are in a similar boat. My mouth was in perfect condition for 25 years, then boom. Health problems and severe periodontal disease. I can’t tell if my efforts to have fixed it over the past year have helped or not, as the damage has just been progressing. I’d like to know how you’re doing (since this comment is now 2 years old), and also have someone to relate to. The hardest part is seeing everyone else who is 27 with their perfect smiles and looking healthier than ever, while I’m falling apart.

      Nicole wrote on March 23rd, 2016
      • I haven’t been great about keeping up with it. I used to love going to the dentist but now I dread it. They keep saying that things are getting worse so I’m at the point of saying screw it, pull them all. I have other health things going on so it’s hard to focus on that specific thing. I keep trying but maybe it’s keeping things from spinning out of control rather than just only getting slightly worse, who knows.

        Kristen wrote on March 23rd, 2016
  17. As a practicing dentist, I would say vegans have some of the worst teeth that walk through my door. This article is pretty spot on.

    sincityDMD wrote on May 28th, 2014
  18. thank you so much for sharing! i’m a HUGE vinegar and fermented food ingester… and i’ve got the receding gum lines to prove it. D, A, and K2 just bumped their way up on my priority list.

    adina wrote on May 28th, 2014
  19. Great post, thanks for the heads up on activated charcoal for whitening. Adn yes, I was goign overboard on fermented foods and water kefir. It caused rosacea for me, adn as soon as it I cut way back that settled down. I occasionally still enjoy soem kimchi or kraut, just not everyday adn totally cut out teh lombucha and kefir water (which i still ove, doesnt love me). The fermented drinks definitely made my teeth feel funny…like they were being attacked.

    mims wrote on May 28th, 2014
  20. What kind of D do you take, Denise? Is it D from the cod liver oil?

    Julie wrote on May 28th, 2014
  21. Great info! I’ve never been vegan but was surprised to see apples on the list of fruits to limit since I always thought I was doing my teeth well by eating them (I guess another myth debunked?) Thanks for sharing this story.

    Michele wrote on May 28th, 2014
  22. Does all this information apply to gum health as well?

    Alexander wrote on May 28th, 2014
  23. THE most bang for the K2 buck, I’m pretty sure, is Life Extension Super K. About $35 for 90 gets on Amazon. Each capsule has 1000mcg of K1 and K2/Mk-4, and 200mcg of K2/Mk-7. I’ve been taking this and other K vitamins for a couple of years, and 4000-10000 IU’s of Vitamin D a day. Vitamin A as is in my food and a bit in a multivite.

    Haven’t seen a dentist in five years, pre-vitamin dosing. My teeth are healthy, no pain, no gum issues, breath just fine.

    Think about it: Why would we evolve to have dental problems, especially in a long lived species? Of course we didn’t.

    OnTheBayou wrote on May 28th, 2014
    • Danger, danger!! With water soluble vitamins you don’t have to worry about overdosing;…BUT with fat soluble vitamins you do. You can have a blood test to determine your Vit D level which will help you decide how much Vit D to take. I think, though I am not sure that there is also a test for Vit K. Be careful…sometimes less is better.

      Steven wrote on May 28th, 2014
    • I have been doing the same with Life Extension’s Super K and 4-10K of D3. Vitamin A from food.

      I do go to the dentist every 6 months for cleanings and never have a problem with receding gums or tarter.

      Bones like a 20 year old! ( in my 50’s)

      RenegadeRN wrote on May 28th, 2014
    • I just ordered Life Extension Super K with Advanced K2 Complex from Swanson’s Vitamins for $22.50 for 90 gels. You might save a few more bucks with free shipping offers that happen frequently.

      Laurie wrote on May 28th, 2014
  24. Nice article. Might start looking into supplementing with K2. Already got Vit D at home.

    I remember a youtube video by DurianRider (the vegan that promotes the whole 30 bananas a day fad…garbage) showing his “pearly whites” and claiming that his diet wasn’t doing anything harmful to his teeth. My only thought was yeah right….you are practically washing your teeth in sugar 24/7 and claiming it’s having no effect???

    Btw….how in the world does one eat 30 bananas a day?!?

    Jacob wrote on May 28th, 2014
  25. I noticed that the Vitamin K2 says “do not take while pregnant or breastfeeding”. I wonder if that is just the generic statement that the FDA makes everyone paste on everything that hasn’t been specifically studied, or if there are actually reasons not to take it while breastfeeding?

    I have horrible teeth; even though I do everything the dentist tells me I get cavities regularly. I already have had one root canal and I have a bad tooth right now that may end up needing one. I’d really, really, really like to prevent that!!!

    So…anyone actually know about the safety of taking K2 while breastfeeding?

    Emily wrote on May 28th, 2014
    • I don’t actually know, but I would assume the naturally occurring Vitamin K2 is safe, so you can just eat more goose liver, cheese, etc, or consider butter oil or emu oil. WAPF is very concerned with nutrition for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, so there’s probably some more info about it on their site.

      There is a difference between the synthetic Vitamin K2 and the naturally occurring one, so I guess to be completely safe the natural one would be best. I only bring this up because the synthetic Vitamin K2 gave me very bad headaches. I’ve never heard of anyone else experiencing this, so it may just be me. WAPFers have for sure been using K2 during breastfeeding, so I’d recommend looking up their blogs to find out what they know.

      Catherine wrote on May 28th, 2014
    • I’d done some research on Vitamin K2 recently and there aren’t that many human studies involving Vitamin K2. I’d guess the warning has more to do with the lack of research; they don’t know if it’s safe, so they recommend against it. This site recommends taking K2 while breastfeeding

      b2curious wrote on May 28th, 2014
    • Nina Planck says quite a bit about K2 in her book “Real Food for Mother and Baby”. As mentioned by others, dietary sources of K2 will be safer and more effective than synthetic/supplements. I would agree with the previous commenter, though- there just isn’t enough research for them to say that it ‘is ok’ , so they prescribe caution. Try your best to get real food sources and don’t worry too much! If you want to go into hyper drive on K2 to help build teeth and bones, maybe wait until baby is done breastfeeding.

      Nicole wrote on May 29th, 2014
  26. Denise, think you got this post! I’ve been a low carb primal eater for two years now, and although it cleared up many of my health problems, I still wasn’t feeling 100%. When I found a hole in one of my teeth, I decided I needed to change something. I read Cure Tooth Decay, and then Weston Price’s Nutrition and Degeneration, and so many things clicked into place. I’ve been implementing many of the WAPF ideas into my diet, like butter oil and cod liver oil, organ meats, more veggies and fish, and raw dairy (plus I started oil pulling). It’s only been two weeks, but I can already see a difference in my teeth in general, and I’m pretty sure I can feel that hole in my tooth getting smaller! At any rate, the server temperature sensitivity has gone away. I hope this post helps others who might be having issues.

    Julie wrote on May 28th, 2014
  27. Good article from Denise. There is a WAPF recommended book Cure Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nagel which has more or less the same conclusions as Denise. Her writing style is far better though.

    patrick wrote on May 28th, 2014
  28. My God! The true greatness of this website never ceases to amaze me! Mark, you and your team are bringin’ it baby! Thank you for your continuing passion and commitment to wellness. You are truly changing lives. This post couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I can hardly wait to brush with activated charcoal tonight!

    Lauren wrote on May 28th, 2014
    • Yes, and another great article to sink our TEETH into…

      Nocona wrote on May 28th, 2014
    • Thanks, Lauren!

      Mark Sisson wrote on May 28th, 2014
  29. hi – re: activated charcoal for teeth. do you know if it can safely be used on a dental implant?

    jo wrote on May 28th, 2014
    • I don’t know about activated charcoal (yet) but I do know that brushing with baking soda is very gentle (less abrasive than toothpaste) and cleans effectively.

      The biggest problem in toothbrushing is abrasive toothpaste and technique…too much aggressive scrubbing is bad.

      Brush in gentle circles and your teeth/gums will love you…oh, and make sure you are doing it for at least 2 minutes at a time.

      Again, this all depends on your individual risk factors.

      Jason Luchtefeld wrote on May 28th, 2014
  30. This is all SO interesting to me. I’ve been a vegetarian for 7 years and thankfully most of my teeth are okay. I was in a bad bike accident in high school though that left me undergoing massive amounts of dental work which resulted in 4 crowns last year.

    Erica wrote on May 28th, 2014
  31. May I suggest you add to your supplements for your teeth, Magnesium in some form. I use Jigsaw Mag Malate w/SRT and get 5 times your wgt in Mg daily. Mag is like the delivery boy taking Ca where it should go, to bones and teeth. It has really helped me. And it keeps the excess Calcium out of the blood where it doesn’t belong. Excess calcium in blood ends up causing blockage in arteries, kidneys and all the stones wherever they deposit, and things like bone spurs, carotid artery blockage and even calcium build up in the heart and valves.

    Alan wrote on May 28th, 2014
    • Great post, Denise. I was wondering why you didn’t mention magnesium – maybe because you were already getting enough through your diet and/or supplements?

      Susan B. wrote on May 28th, 2014
  32. So what about animals that eat these acidic fruits all the time? Their teeth would rot in no time and they would die early. Or does their mouths have saliva with a Ph level very different to humans and thus counter balances? The enamel in their teeth is very different from humans? I have a hard time believing that the small amount of time that a normal food like fruit is on one’s mouth that it can have a big effect on teeth.

    Brad wrote on May 28th, 2014
    • I think that the main culprit, as described above, was poor overall nutrition, which left the teeth vulnerable to the acid in the fruit. Given that animals which naturally consume large amounts of acidic fruit are meeting their nutritional needs, the acid in the fruit should not be a problem.

      b2curious wrote on May 28th, 2014
    • That brings up another question… does this nutrition advice work for pet teeth too? And have the modern cat and dog foods ruined their teeth like it did for humans? I grew up with a cat 30 years ago, and I NEVER saw pet toothpaste and pet toothbrushes or pet dental chewey bones back then. I never heard of bad pet teeth back then either.

      oxide wrote on May 29th, 2014
      • Yes, modern cat and dog foods have been bad for the health of our pets. If you use this site’s search engine, and search for primal cat or primal dog, you will find some posts. Or if you go to the page for Primal Blueprint 101, down at the very bottom of the page are the links for Primal Eating Plan for Cats & Dogs

        b2curious wrote on May 29th, 2014
  33. Denise, do you brush or mouthwash the way crunchy betty describes? Charcoal sounds a mite abrasive.

    Cliff wrote on May 28th, 2014
  34. You are right on!
    I am a periodontist with 40 years of experience. I am one of very few periodontists who actively treat periodontal disease with an emphasis on ancestral nutrition and functional medicine. I have designed, and am currently implementing, a clinical study in my offices on how fermented cod liver oil and high vitamin butter blend in addition to kelp powder may reduce periodontal pockets, bleeding points, and overall systemic inflammation (measured by high sensitivity C Reactive Protein). As you know, these nutrient-dense food supplements will not only help inflammation but also assist in remineralization.

    Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS Periodontist wrote on May 28th, 2014
    • Dr. Danenberg, I hope you will update us with the results of your study. Perhaps Mark would let you do a guest post to share your findings. I suspect a lot of people here would be very interested!

      Cheryl wrote on May 28th, 2014
      • I hope the results of the study will be available in the next 2 months. If Mark wants, I would be happy to report these results on this website. I have found that Mark’s research is superb. I often refer patients to his website to get detailed and unbiased answers to their primal lifestyle questions.

        Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS Periodontist wrote on May 28th, 2014
        • I’d also be very interested in the results!

          Kate wrote on July 11th, 2014
      • I’m also very interested in the results of Dr. Danenberg’s study!

        Lois wrote on May 31st, 2014
  35. Oil Pulling with extra-virgin coconut oil is worth researching to anyone with dental issues .

    GrandSusan wrote on May 28th, 2014
    • I’ve been doing that for over a year now. All plaque has vanished and problems with bad breath are gone!

      Rob Moreno wrote on May 28th, 2014
    • Glad to hear someone testify to that- quite a few oil pulling articles I’ve read recommend safflower oil (gasp!) Or other inflammatory oils. vco it is!

      Nicole wrote on May 29th, 2014
  36. I am curious about the effect of sauerkraut and other fermented veggies on dental health. The low PH is obviously a danger, but the article states that “vitamin K2 is a product of bacterial fermentation” and many other sources confirm that sauerkraut is loaded with K2. Can sauerkraut be strategically added to my diet in a way that provides my K2 but minimizes acid-on-teeth time?

    Chyrhopyro wrote on May 28th, 2014
    • Wouldn’t rinsing with water after eating or a meal do the trick? I read you shouldn’t brush your teeth right after eating acidic food and drink (including kombucha) because the food softens, but rinsing clears much of the acid off and then brushing later is ok. I read that recently and have implemented that technique. I just swish and spit after eating or drinking. Then brush before bed and after breakfast.

      Janet wrote on May 30th, 2014
      • You know, you just have to draw a line on how much fiddling around you do and not worry about it. If issues are not too bad, just do the best you can and move on. Relax and enjoy life. I am an old lady–trust me. LOL.

        Janet wrote on May 30th, 2014
  37. I have awful teeth and my dentist just told me I need $4000 worth of dental work, so this is timely. Question: do all yogurts have reasonable amounts of K2? Not that I mind eating liver pate every day. :)

    Also, does bone broth help the teeth remineralize? I’d think it would have the right sorts of minerals in the right proportions.

    Meepster wrote on May 28th, 2014
    • “Question: do all yogurts have reasonable amounts of K2?”

      Caution: most yogurts contain substantial amounts of sugar, and are generally incompatible with LC eating for that reason.

      Boundless wrote on May 29th, 2014
    • Dear Meepster,
      Sorry, but there appear to be no commercial yogurts that contain K2, because they use the wrong bacterial cultures (Bifida, Lactobacillus, etc.)

      The way K2 can be produced in dairy is by the natural souring process. That’s the way buttermilk was made in the days before Pasteurization. It might be seeded by the cow’s own bacteria from the teat. My mom said real buttermilk was so delicious that there is no comparison. The British have something they call clotted cream, which may be made in a similar way.

      However, bone broth is an excellent way to get both K2 and minerals, as long as you don’t skim off the fat (that’s where the K2 is). Bone marrow is an excellent source of K2, because it is there to remineralize the bones! (Or rather, to activate the protein (osteocalcin) which does the job.) It also helps prevent bone cancer, and is being used in some countries as a supplementary bone cancer treatment along with chemo.

      But one caveat: CAFO cattle have only half as much K2 as grass-fed — because they don’t get enough K1, which their rumen bacteria convert to K2.

      Hope this answers your questions.

      Camilla Bishop (chemistry grad) wrote on November 4th, 2014
  38. Years of “healthy whole wheat bread” and low fat pizzas left me with 3 root canals and multiple cavities. I’m now enjoying perfect dental health with a high fat egg , liver, cheese bacon diet.

    zebonaut wrote on May 28th, 2014
    • Wow, 3 root canals and multiple cavities… shocking. Makes stroke, heart attack and cancer seem like a walk in the park~!

      Caroline Burton wrote on November 24th, 2015
      • Try incompetent dentists who grind healthy teeth down which stresses the rest of the teeth and result in chips and breakages.

        Going paleo or Wheat Belly does unfortunately NOT prevent against the smugness, incompetence, destructive and brain-dead behaviours of dentists.

        Or other so-called “health” professionals for that matter.

        Jill wrote on January 17th, 2016
  39. This explains a lot. I started eating Sauerkraut and within two weeks, one of my filling came out and I had to have a crown put in. Wish I had known it would be so damaging to my teeth.

    Donald Easter wrote on May 28th, 2014
    • Rinse with water after eating. That would help and you could still eat the yummy sauerkraut if you take that precaution. Of course, you would have to develop the habit to do that! LOL. That’s what I do–we do the best we can and it might not have been eating the sauerkraut anyway. Carry on eating healthy, zeb.

      Janet wrote on May 30th, 2014
  40. I too am 27 years old, and really enjoy bragging about my teeth which, thus far, are perfect. Not even one cavity. No surprise as my sister, who is nearly ten years older, also has perfect teeth. Neither of us has ever needed dental treatment. Fluoride cannot be credited as we have never been exposed to it.

    But we were not exposed to sugar either. We grew most of our own foods or traded with neighbours. We always had fresh milk and eggs. What kids eat today really horrifies me. It’s no wonder many have rotten teeth before their third birthday!!!

    The evidence I’ve seen about vitamin D supplements suggests that they’re not necessary and can be dangerous, even at low doses. I would go with cod liver oil if I thought I needed a boost (I get plenty of sun) but most definitely not a supplement in pill form.

    Jill Spencer wrote on May 28th, 2014
    • Jill, few people are able to get sufficient Vitamin D from the sun, especially during the winter months (and even much of the rest of the year for those of us who live here in the Pacific Northwest or similar climates).

      Mark Sisson (and many other experts as well) has advocated Vitamin D3 supplementation here on his site (and I’m pretty sure he’s done his research). In one article he recommends taking 4000 I.U. per day (and possibly higher, depending) and then getting your levels checked periodically. However, since it works synergistically with vitamins A and K2, it’s important to make sure to have sufficient amounts of those in your diet if you do supplement with D. (The “evidence” you’ve seen likely failed to consider A and K2 levels.)

      Getting nutrients naturally is ideal, but it’s just not always possible. From everything I’ve read, the risks that stem from a deficiency in Vitamin D certainly outweigh the potential risks from supplementation (unless we’re talking unusually high doses, which can be toxic).

      Cheryl wrote on May 28th, 2014
      • +1
        There have to be at least a billion people on earth who CANNOT get enough D3 from the sun, for various reasons.

        My N=1 experience is that supplemental D3 without plenty of K2 gives me kidney stones.

        Harry Mossman wrote on May 28th, 2014
        • Harry, do you use a K2 supplement or rely on diet? If you do supplement with K2, which one do you use (if you don’t mind my asking)? I’ve used the Thorne brand (both K2-4 and D3), but like to hear other people’s experience and recommendations.

          Cheryl wrote on May 28th, 2014
        • Cheryl,

          Right now, I am using Now MK-7, 100mcg. I take two. I’m not rigidly locked into using theirs, but it contains nato and they are a good company.

          I do also eat quite a bit of aged cheddar from pastured cows. But after passing many kidney stones, i want to be sure to get enough K2.

          Harry Mossman wrote on May 28th, 2014
      • The claim that millions of us are chronically deficient in vitamin D is one of the biggest scams going. It simply is not true. Read the studies, you will find that deficiency does not exist even the far north.

        It’s important to know that supplements and sunshine are two entirely different things. This article explains:

        There are also problems with vitamin A. Synthetic A and synthetic D have both been associated with increased susceptibility to asthma and allergies, and they tend to counter milk’s benefits by diverting calcium away from bones and teeth. It’s bad enough that these additives are in many of our foods, whether we want them or not. Taking pills of them is just foolish.

        Jill Spencer wrote on May 28th, 2014
        • Jill, please don’t assume the rest of us are idiots who haven’t done any research, know nothing about health and nutrition, and are so easily blinded by what you boldly allege to be a scam. You don’t know everything, and it’s obvious you haven’t done much research in this area.

          Cheryl wrote on May 29th, 2014
      • Seasonal fluctuations in 25OHD levels are quite normal. They don’t need to be at a certain level all the time.

        Please note that the vitamin D we get from sunlight exposure and food is stored in our tissues and released as needed throughout the year. We don’t need daily exposure to sunlight.

        I read all the studies pertaining to vitamin D and even correspond with many of the researchers. Who do you rely on for your information?

        Some recent articles:

        Jill Spencer wrote on May 29th, 2014
    • Great Information… I broke it down into the basic information she conveyed in the article:

      Two approaches to healthy teeth:
      (1) Protecting teeth from the outside in (minimize sources of external damage)
      (2) Rebuilding teeth internally
      Item (1) Protect teeth from the outside:
      – Fermented foods wrecked my teeth. Why: sauerkraut and kimchi have pH of about 3.5, making them extremely acidic upon contact
      – PH of 7 is considered neutral. Anything higher is alkaline. Anything lower is acidic.
      – Foods with pH levels below 5.3 start entering the “enamel damage” territory,
      – Tooth pain resolved after limiting fermented vegetables and other highly acidic foods,
      – Changed diet initially to low-acid fruits (papaya and melons, largely)
      – Believes acidity of fruit is a bigger problem than its sugar content.
      PH Index of some food items (FDA):
      >> Apples: 3.3-3.9
      >> Apricots: 3.3-4.0
      >> Blackberries: 3.9-4.5
      >> Blueberries: 3.1-3.3
      >> Cherries: 3.2-4.1
      >> Frozen cherries: 3.3-3.4
      >> Dill pickles: 3.2-3.7
      >> Grapes: 2.8-3.8
      >> Grapefruit: 3.0-3.8
      >> Ketchup: 3.9
      >> Lemon juice: 2.0-2.6
      >> Lime juice: 2.0-2.8
      >> Mangoes: 3.4-4.8
      >> Nectarines: 3.9-4.2
      >> Olives (green, fermented—black fresh or canned ones have a pH of at least 6): 3.6-4.6
      >> Peaches: 3.3-4.1
      >> Pears (Bartlett): 3.5-4.6
      >> Pineapple: 3.2-4.0
      >> Plums: 2.8-4.5
      >> Pomegranate: 2.9-3.2
      >> Raspberries: 3.2-3.7
      >> Sauerkraut: 3.3-3.6
      >> Strawberries: 3.0-3.9
      >> Tangerine: 3.3-4.5
      >> Tomatoes (canned): 3.5-4.7
      >> Vinegar: 2.4-3.4
      >> Orange juice: 3.3-4.2
      >> Red wine: 3.4
      >> White wine: 3.0

      – Stopped brushing immediately after meals (scrubbing enamel before it remineralizes is not good).
      – Swish after meals with water and baking soda to raise mouth’s pH. Improved sensitivity
      – No commercial whiteners for stains
      – Use activated charcoal for teeth stains

      Item (2) Rebuilding teeth internally:
      – Three fat-soluble vitamins — A, D, and K2 (do research) — Holy trinity for healthy teeth.
      – Vitamin K2 — 5 milligrams a day from Carlson Labs. Teeth gaps tightened back up. Measurements from 4-5 mm on most teeth to 2-3 mm.
      – Other K2 sources include natto, hard cheeses, soft cheeses, butter from pastured cows, egg yolks, liver
      – Can’t praise liver enough. decent source of vitamin K2, high in vitamin A
      – Alternate Source – cod liver oil , free-range chicken liver
      – Take Vitamin D – 1,000 and 3,000 IU per day, depending on how much sun you get (also improves mood)

      Scott wrote on May 28th, 2014
      • What is the adequate does for Vitamin A and Calcium? I see the doses for K and D, but not A and Calcium. Please let me know. Thank you.

        Cher wrote on June 2nd, 2014
      • Sorry but now I am confused. If I’m taking green pastures cod liver oil/butter oil blend which contains A, D and K vitamins, so do I need to take an extra K2 and D vitamin or not???

        Petra K wrote on February 12th, 2016

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