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

I 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.


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!

TAGS:  oral health

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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227 thoughts on “How to Take Care of Your Teeth (Hint: There’s More to It Than Brushing)”

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  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.

    1. Yes – agree completely! I floss agressively every night and I haven’t been to the dentist in over 15 years!

    2. 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.

      1. 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!

        1. 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.)

        2. 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.

    3. 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!

      1. 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.

        1. Ack! Her teeth might be falling out because she’s abusing her gums. Brushing is good, but 3 times a day is too much!

        2. 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!

        3. 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.

  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,


    1. 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.

  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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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!

  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?

    1. 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.

    2. 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!

      1. I agree that remineralizing helps. I didn’t expect it to do anything, but after using Uncle Harry’s Liquid Remineralization drops (or the name is something like this), my teeth are whiter and thicker and my teeth don’t get as sensitive. I think I’m beating back the cavities, too.

    3. 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 to learn more about all the ingredients etc. Hope this has been helpful!

  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.

  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.

  7. 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.

    1. 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 🙂

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

        2. re: replacing your fillings, try doing it one at a time so the cost isn’t as overwhelming

        3. 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.

        4. 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.

        5. 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!

        6. 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.

    2. My holistic dentist told me Baking Soda and Peroxide makes teeth sensitive.

    3. 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)

  8. 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!

  9. 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 🙂

    1. 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.

      1. you might try brushing with activated charcoal to adsorb/absorb the stains from drinking tea/coffee 🙂

    2. 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 🙂

  10. 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?

    1. 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!

    2. 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.

      1. 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…

        1. You have to see it to understand it, here is a link

          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.

        2. 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.

        3. 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 🙂

        4. 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.

      2. 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!

    3. 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.

      1. 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.

    4. 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.

      1. 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’.

        1. 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.

        2. 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

      2. 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.

        1. 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.

  11. 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. 🙂

    1. 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.

  12. 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?

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. HA! “Using a dental dam to chew” I just spit eggs and sausage all over my keyboard.

  16. 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….

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

      2. 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)

        1. It can also lead to myloma. Nothing good comes from ingesting flourine.

    2. 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!

  17. 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!

  18. 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!

  19. 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.

  20. This is too funny, I was brushing my teeth this morning thinking about dental hygiene and what Mark would say about it. Awesome timing.

  21. 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.

    1. 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 🙂

      1. 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.

        1. “The FDA has approved xylitol for human consumption”

          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.

      2. 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.

        1. 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?

        2. 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.

        3. 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.

    2. @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.

      1. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

    1. 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!!

  24. 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.

  25. 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!

  26. 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?

    1. 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!)

      1. 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.

      2. 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.

      3. 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?

        1. Might want to read Dr Ellie’s blog. Not primal; but the info will help you plan a strategy

        2. 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
          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

          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

  27. 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.

    1. Barb, how ‘translucent’ were your teeth? Mine are quite translucent (more than half of my upper front two teeth) but don’t seem to be thinning out (at least not obviously). Hoping I can also regain opaqueness through this diet and brushing less – I used to brush 2-3 times a day with a fluoride toothpaste, and flossed every other day. I now have about 7 fillings at the age of 20, despite drinking no juice and eating minimal junk food growing up.

  28. 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 🙂

  29. 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.

  30. 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: 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.

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

  33. 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.

  34. 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!

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

    1. I agree. I’m also a big fan of Dr Ellie — following her Complete Mouth Care System and using xylitol has radically improved my dental health.

      Bottom line — acid is the dental enemy, as Ph below 5.5 causes demineralization. It can be direct consumption of acid containing foods (I love sour tasting foods and drinks [used to love lemonade as a beverage]) or acidic by-products of plaque-causing bacteria.

      I don’t think bacteria “eat” teeth, and sugar per se does not directly cause decay — sugar feeds the bacteria which product the acid.

  37. 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.

  38. It’s impressive how much knowledge you can gain from reading these comments; I never thought that reading someone’s blog comments would be so beneficial and thought-provoking.

    I’m thinking about ditching toothpaste, but I’m not sure whether to just brush or use coconut oil. Could anyone give his/her take on either of the two options?

    1. My toddler daughter and I both experienced tooth issues while we were brushing with just coconut oil – staining on her teeth, and even a bit of bleeding gums – and I experienced some tooth and gum sensitivity. Cancelled that experiment. Switched her to Kids Spry (xylitol-based toothgel with no glycerin), and I started using Dr. Wood’s liquid peppermint castile soap (like Dr. Bronner’s, but not as harsh). Both of our issues cleared up. All that to say, I’m not sure what the issue was with coconut oil, but there certainly was one….

  39. Never had a cavity. Probably genetic, my kids are the same way. But before I went primal I had a fair amount of trouble with bleeding gums at brushing time…and only when I hadn’t gotten a good dose of vitamin C for a few days. A little attention to that detail and all was well.

    It’s also important to note the connection between gingivitis and heart disease…there’s a pretty strong correlation. Whatever your diet may be, a daily flossing or equivalent, at least, is probably a wise practice.

  40. .. baking soda and peppermint oil…… I use a frayed stick and a toothbrush..
    My dentist is amazed at how little there is to clean..let alone do in my mouth
    Primal/Paleo diet works!..GROK ON>>>

  41. What a coincidence. I just got home from a dental cleaning to find todays post on dental hygiene. I was wondering about Grok and his teeth while I was in pain from the ultrasonic too usedl to blast away plaque. I spoke a lot with the dental hygienist, and how you brush (tooth paste is not everything) is crucial. You should use small light circles ensuring you hit all your teeth and gum lines. Also ensure you get the back of your teeth, and to get the back of the front teeth you want to point the brush straight up for the top teeth and vice vera. Also, I know Grok probably did not floss everyday, but we need to. Get into the habit. When food stays in-between your teeth and gums and comes in contact with saliva it forms plaque. This will discolor the teeth on the edges around the gums where the plaque is. Bacteria will be more prevalent and your body will supply more blood to the gums as a result causing them to be more enlarged.

  42. The problem today, I promise you is in the dentist. From the day we started taking away what God has done for our teeth, and had them scraping and adding to our teeth… our oral health has gone down hill. Of course, they want us to come back 2-3 times a year. If there weren’t any problems at all, would you come back?

  43. Excuse me but why are all posts with links to good sites being deleted?

  44. I had my first dental check-up since going primal in February (2011). Apparently, my gums are no longer receding and have actually advanced where they were receding. My brushing habits (twice daily) and flossing habits (okay, pretty rare) haven’t changed, so I’m making a (individual) causal link to primal.

  45. After trying Tom’s and other herbal “natural” brand’s, I decided that water was the way to go and some flossing. My teeth are smooth all the time except on occasions where I consume starchy foods like potatoes/sweet potatoes. If I get the fuzzy film, I just use a little baking soda and they’re super slick again and feel great. My gums and teeth have never been better!

  46. I did an anthropological study on a group of people called the Himba in Namibia, Africa. They never brush their teeth- but their teeth are beautifully white and perfect. They use chew sticks–

  47. There is an ancient practice of ‘oil swishing’ in Ayurveda that I have been using for some time. It is good for a whole body detox, but also for oral hygiene and detoxification. Simply swirl a Tablespoon of organic (not roasted) sesame oil in your mouth for 3-4 minutes. It will change in texture, and when I first started doing this, when I spit it out, it was often discolored. I do have a couple of porcelain crowns, so I only do it twice a week, but my dentist noticed recently that my gums are in better shape, and that my natural teeth are now noticeably whiter than the crowns that used to match!

  48. I am a dentist who is very interested in nutrition. What you eat and hygiene basics are important to overall health. Brushing without toothpaste is totally acceptable (it’s what I do to my 2 year old). FLOSSING is also important. Sorry to disappoint all those who seem to think its unnecessary. Unless you truly live the hunter/gatherer lifestyle as those tribes mentioned, you NEED TO FLOSS. Not everyone here I’m sure is 100% paleo 100% of the time. In todays society, it’s not worth it to risk not flossing. Do you really want a cavity? Mineralization is established long before any of us went primal, so everyone is different in their hygiene regime. Some people do get away with never flossing, but most have some issue when they do go to dental checkups. Plaque buildup is not good. It can cause more problems than just cavities.

    1. I have a ‘cleaning’ done one day and the minute I eat (primal meal of lets say steak and asparagus in butter) I have the exact same amount of plague build-up right back on my teeth. I think the ph of the plague is important.
      Also having braces atm isn’t helping much…’plague’ seems to accumulate faster.
      It’s almost been a year now of having braces and I just recently had my first cleaning done. My Ortho didn’t even know. He thought I’ve already had at least 2 cleanings done since the braces.
      If he only knew, I don’t even brush.
      And I don’t use any commercial dental hygiene products, no fluoride, nada.
      I use hotspring high mineral content ground water a PH of 9.6 in my Waterpick after every meal and a wooden toothpick to pick at stubborn debris and plague buildup…that is it.

      Perfect gums, strong teeth, no sensitivity at all. I never even had a brace sore or ulcer or whatever it’s called. I can wake up in the morning and rinse my mouth with ice water and not feel a thing.
      This diet has done wonders for my gum and tooth health. My Ortho borrowed my Weston A Price book for months and had his entire staff look at it, too.
      I sure love the guy.

      This primal diet is da Bomb 🙂

  49. I’ve done oil pulling in the past, and it seemed to help my mouth feel much cleaner and healthier.

    Unfortunately I got out of the habit when I ran out of oil, but should start it back up.

  50. UGH…Brush 2x a day with those special wide brushes, floss daily, avoid most candy but damn…I have had 2 root canals and 6 cavities! SAD and FRUSTRATING! Advice? …maybe more vit D and K for me!!

  51. Considering this is a post about teeth, I think this link is appropriate.

    He talks about the myths of wisdom teeth removal (and why it really isn’t necessary most of the time).

    If you’re really interested he has a plethora of information on that site that I still haven’t finished reading…

    back to it!

  52. My dentist suggested that flossing and scraping your tongue was far more important then brushing for fresh breath. I do both and my teeth and gums are so healthy that he usually gets all the people in the office to come look at my mouth to see what healthy teeth and gums look like.

  53. A 1:1 Hydrogen Peroxide (without chemical stabilizers) and water rinse has been a miracle for my family and friends. My mom had pretty severe receding gums was looking at dental surgery. She tried the H2O2 on a whim and her gums were “back to normal” in a couple months.

    I’ve been using it for about a year now and my teeth are whiter, feel cleaner, and have no sensitivity.

    Anybody have any info on using H2O2 long term? In the short term it has been pretty amazing.

    1. I have been applying hydrogen peroxide to a severe cavity in a wisdom tooth for a year now. The dentist wanted to pull it last year, so I decided to try and “heal” the cavity. It’s still there, but it hasn’t got any worse. I’m hoping, in time, it will completely heal. Mean while, the peroxide is whitening my teeth. I wish I new the long term effects.

        1. Heal yes, filling it in, no.

          Cure Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nagel.

          A primal diet naturally will seal cavities with secondary dentin and halt decay.

  54. My teeth have always been a struggle for me (braces, teeth pulled, wisdom teeth impacted, root canal, implant from the root canal which went bad years later, periodontal transplants for badly receding gums, cavities, cavities) – and I am only 33. I have beautiful teeth but I have paid dearly. I brush and floss and mouthwash twice a day – all my life. I have been fully Primal for almost a year and haven’t had a cavity since, so it will be interesting to see how things progress. Perhaps the lack of sugars alone is a factor in better teeth with Primal living… (Although, as I wrote in the Comments on the recent Fluoride post, I grew up on distilled well water on a farm and dentists have always told me that’s why I have bad teeth — who knows??). I have tried everything you can think of, trying to find natural alternatives that work for me. I use Tom’s paste sometimes, and sometimes ‘regular,’ but always Listerine mouthwash because it is the only one that appears to keep my gums from bleeding.

    Interestingly, my husband, who is not Primal, has perfect teeth, and has nearly all his life. He brushes maybe once a day, never flosses, and sometimes mouthwashes. He eats all kinds of sugar and still never gets a cavity. Some people have all the luck! =)

    1. I’ve read somewhere that the health or mineral density of teeth are determined during pregnancy of the baby.
      At least the baby teeth are. And the nutrition received after birth would determine the health and mineral density of the adult teeth to come. I’m not sure at what age they are formed in the facial bones.
      But healthy teeth that are immune to dental decay start weeks before you’re even conceived.

    2. “always Listerine mouthwash because it is the only one that appears to keep my gums from bleeding.”

      OUCH! Sounds like you’re beating up your poor gums with weapons! I doubt it’s the Listerine that is ‘keeping your gums from bleeding.’ Somehow, pouring *alcohol* on mucus membranes that have just been abraded by bristles seems less than optimal! How’s your diet? Are you getting enough vitamin C (blood vessel health) and vitamin D (with K2; for everything health)?

      By way of example: when I met my husband, he was always annoyed that the skin on the back of his neck broke out a lot; so he daily rubbed it in a very hot shower with a rugged washcloth using strong deodorant soap. Then, after he dried off, he’s wipe it (harshly) with alcohol. {eye roll} I suggested that his skin was desperately trying to repair the damage he was doing by pouring out the oil! He (reluctantly) tried treating his skin with gentle soap and no alcohol — and surprise surprise! When he quit ABUSING it, it healed and became normal.

      If you are ‘punishing’ your gums with harsh treatment (and maybe not ‘feeding’ them from inside as well as they need) you might be cause a rebound effects — the poor things are bleeding and when you swish alcohol all over them, then just give up?

      (It’s quite likely that the distilled water (which means the minerals have been *removed*) could result in poor mineralization of your teeth; it’s why they say to never give distilled water to babies — they need the minerals!)

  55. I just recently met a woman who immigrated to the US from Austria. This woman had the most perfect dental arch I had ever seen on a ‘white’ person.
    Her parents grew up on traditional foods of raw cheese, raw butter and raw milk and fresh ground rye breads and garden vegetables and fruits of the season. This woman had all 32 teeth, a perfect occlusion with a wide dental arch.
    I was so jealous!

  56. I use straight baking soda, occasionally moistened with Hydrogen Peroxide.

  57. I got my first cavity in my adult life after switching to “natural” toothpaste. I switched back to Colgate and haven’t had another cavity since – fingers crossed.

  58. I use tooth soap from a web site They have naturally flavored with essential oils tooth shreds, liquid and gels. They also have a powdered product that you swish around your mouth that helps remineralize your teeth. I absolutely love these products after years of trying various products. These products leave my mouth feeling so clean and do not leave any kind of film on the teeth. Between these products and paleo my teeth have been much healthier. I do floss though everyday. Interesting about the Xylitol though. I am going to try the gum too. Great post and fascinating comments as usual.

  59. Well . . . I was experiencing extreme sensitivity to heat and cold in one gold-crowned molar, and once I started using a toothpaste for sensitive teeth it went back to normal. No amount of flossing or dietary changes will affect that, so I’m a toothpaster.

    I do experience much less dental plaque on a low-carb grain-free diet, however.

  60. Interesting to find there was a study to back up the idea of brushing without toothpaste–my dentist actually advocates “dry brushing” before brushing with toothpaste. Guess I have a pretty good dentist!

  61. I’m 22 (no wisdom teeth) and have no cavities at all, and still have 2 of my baby teeth (maybe more.. I can’t remember, I was missing quite a few adult teeth). I had a good diet growing up but not paleo/primal/WAPF. I’ve used non-fluoridated toothpaste for a few years, with like dolomite powder and stuff in it. Looking at switching to the Dr Bronners stuff though it looks good. I think its definitely all about diet, but having researched stuff lately I think its possible to halt cavities and strengthen teeth, and mineralization teeth in adulthood.

  62. I’m currently 21, but four years ago, I had my very first cavities (devastating news) even though I was brushing my teeth twice a day with sodium fluoride toothpaste. I did some research and decided to stop using toothpaste, and I ate more vegetables like broccoli, as well as raw eggs (I didnt eat much nutritious stuff back then). Needless to say, my teeth have become stronger than ever while staying the same in color, and no more cavities! I also found that the sodium fluoride toothpaste has always been rough on my lips (making them dry and chapped), so that problem is gone too ( I never found the need to look for natural or any other toothpaste). I firmly believe that diet is the most important factor for your teeth’s health (and the rest of your body too, of course).

    I find that brushing (without paste), flossing, and especially cleaning the tongue and inside of
    the mouth is enough to prevent bad breath in most cases. However, if you eat something that would leave a stench in your mouth (like raw garlic or fish sauce), eating an orange or using lemons in various ways will make it much better.

  63. As a dental hygienist for the past 10 years, I enjoyed reading your article on dental care. I do disagree on a couple points though. First, baking soda is pretty abrasive and could potentially cause a person to have cold sensitivity. I would recommend using just water and a soft toothbrush over the baking soda. Secondly, brush at an angle toward the gumline using a gentle circular motion. Most people are heavy handed and this will cause gingival recession and toothbrush abrasion that will again result in sensitive teeth. Finally, please be sure you floss!!!! Most people do not floss, yet those that do are usually able to keep their teeth without major dental issues. As a final note…if you see bleeding around the teeth from the gums-you have gingivitis which is infammed gum tissue. It is never healthy to have inflammation in the body….it is a sign that you need to step up your dental care, either flossing more frequently, brushing more thoroughly, and possibly getting your teeth cleaned professionally.

  64. The timing of this post is brilliant – I’ve just recently had to have two fillings and the agony inflicted during the second one got me thinking about how Grok would have done oral hygiene. I’ve never been a fan of the twice a day routine enforced by conventional wisdom, and up until this year I’d only ever had one filling, in a wisdom tooth that is at an awkward angle on the right side of my mouth, which is the side of my jaw that semi-dislocates when stretched further than normal for eating and talking. I’ve only recently started to adopt the Primal lifestyle, so previous diet would probably be responsible for the never-ending build up of plaque on the rear of my front bottom teeth, but other than that I’ve always had healthy teeth and gums, so maybe that is down to my irregular brushing style. So where the need for these two fillings came from has shocked me a little, that and the fact that my dentist then prescribed me a toothpaste with EXTRA fluoride because he’s worried about a couple of teeth being sensitive! I’ve tried it twice, purely out of interest and I’m not keen… especially as it tells you on the info leaflet that it is advisable to avoid anything else fluoridated whilst using it, and then goes on to list all the undesirable effects…. *shudders at the thought*

    So this morning I tried brushing without any paste (I’ve been trying out various natural/fluoride-free pastes for the last year or so, maybe that’s a contributing factor to these latest fillings?) and I have to say that my teeth felt just as clean, my tongue felt cleaner and my breath fresher, I didn’t have any pain in my teeth, or bleeding, and I was more aware of my teeth and gums. So maybe that’s the way to go for me, I’ll try it for a while and see. My interest was also peaked by the mention of chew sticks though, something else to try out…

  65. I use Bronner’s soap as well as a toothpaste substitute.

    I also will wash my mouth out with colloidal silver. I make that stuff up using the Silver Puppy and keep it in hydrogen peroxide bottles. Glass bottles would be better…so I might just duct tape one up in the near future.

    Colloidal silver is the ultimate disinfectant.

  66. Very interesting. I’ve been primal since September, with some lapses, I will admit. At my last dental appointment, I was told my teeth had very little plaque. Yay! However, the pockets in my gums are getting deeper. Anyone else have this experience, where their teeth are better but the condition of their gums has worsened?

    1. Scurvy often gets misdiagnosed as Periodontal Disease.

      Weston A Price found that most people with bleeding gums have actually a mild case of scurvy. Vitamin C deficiency affects Bone, Skin, Teeth, Gums, Cartilage and Joints.

      Brushing too hard and using harsh cleaners like sodium layreth/lauryl sulfate also causes gum disease.

      Any foods that are high in phytic acid cause gum disease, grains, beans and nuts.

      L-Glutamine has been said to be in high concentration in gums, stomach and the entire digestive tract. Taking a supplement would help heal gums and intestinal lining. Raw dairy is high in L-Glutamine. This amino acid is also good for celicas.
      Make sure to take the bio-available form of L-Glutamine.
      Some people take Colostrum.

      If the pocket is only on 1 or 2 teeth then you probably have something stuck in there you can’t get out yourself.
      Dental Hygienist can get that out for ya.
      Hope this helps, good luck.

      1. Thanks! Had no idea mild scurvy was misdiagnosed as periodontal disease. Will implement some of your suggestions and see what happens.

  67. Sodium lauryl sulfate is what makes orange juice taste bitter as it paralyzes the sweet taste buds- not that I drink orange juice these days.

    I like phytoshield herbal botanical care toothpaste. It is made in New Zealand. It has calcium carbonate and zinc oxide for remineralizing, xylitol, glycerol, sorbitol. silica, alkyl polyglucose,carboxymethyl (gumming agent from plant fibre), eucalyptus oil, menthol, peppermint oil, aniseed oil, liquorice extract, totarol tincure (antibacterial and antioxidant totara tree extract), and essential oils of basil, cloves, orange, peppermint, rose, rosemary, spearmint and thyme.

    They have two other types formulated for those with gum problems or plaque build up. I have used this toothpaste for about 5 years and I’m very happy with it. I seldom bother with the dentist, I have few problems. Last time I went I was disappointed as I just wanted a clean and I discovered that she had applied fluoride once I read my bill.

  68. Look up HIMALAYA HERBALS on iherb dot com. They sell organic herbal toothpastes and other products.

  69. Oh, teeth. I have had massive problems with my teeth in the last five years. I now have no feeling in part of my face after an extraction of a wisdom tooth went wrong.

    I grew up with perfect teeth, no caries until college (yep, I am another one) and I now attribute that good early start to the fact my mum was big on feeding me meat as a child. When I left hoe, I went ott on the carbs and that is when I got my first sign of decay.

    An old teacher of mine once told me that she knew a chap that had grown up on a remote Pacific island. When he came to the UK to study, his teeth were so immaculate the British dentist took photos of his mouth to send off to the BDA. However, within two years of eating a SBA/SAD, his mouth was full of decay.

    Plus, a friend’s grandfather used to brush his teeth with soot from the chimney. He never had a filling in his life, and lived until his early 90s.

  70. What do you think about the third mollars or wisdom teeth? I am pretty sure Grok didn’t have that problem.

  71. I am sure that many of you know how to floss properly, but I did not until adulthood, so I’ll share that the focus is on scraping the in-between surfaces of the teeth rather than just sawing into the gums to remove chunks of food.

  72. Hello there!

    I am studying Dental Hygiene by the University of Bergen, Norway and have to say that I was rather surprised from your article! Some statements strongly contradit information I get on the university or read on reputeble websites as and many authorized dentist’s websites! I couldn’t agree on your statement that toothpaste use increases abrasion during brushing, because toothpastes itself contain abrasives but that doesn’t cause the abrasion on your gums or enamel, it is the force you apply! Moreover, the toothpaste containing fluoride makes the entire tooth structure more resistant to decay and promotes remineralization, which aids in repairing early decay before the damage can even be seen.
    I’d really like to see a link to the study that shows softer toothbrushes cause as much abrasion (and sometimes more) as stiffer toothbrushes.
    We are daily reccommending soft-bristled brushes to our patients, or a milder brushing techinique with the brush they like using. The direct use of baking soda alone, however, is something we wouldn’t reccomend a person who wants to keep his teeth healthy for life.
    Brushing with a Flouride toothpaste along with regular flossing will save you from many tooth health troubles. Of course a healthy food in addition, would only be an advantage.

    1. I think Europe is just now being bombarded by the american big business and pharmacies. So these bastiches finally made it into the european medical establishments…interesting.

      Fluoride was banned in Europe for decades…chlorine solution for chicken is also banned but that’ll change soon, too. Europe also had banned meat glue…but has lifted the ban a few years ago and is now using it liberally!

      If you’d like to know more about the so called ‘Fluoride’ that you’re promoting in toothpastes check out this video please:

      An example that Fluoride isn’t needed and that diet alone manages the actual health of teeth and bones has also been proven by Weston A. Price.(Nutrition and Physical Degeneration)
      My husband doesn’t eat primal. He eats a diet high in sugar and fruit. He takes in no Vitamin A, has a Vitamin D deficiency, and cooks with palm oil rather than butter which would offer him K2. He therefor takes in 0 amounts of K2. He uses a toothpaste prescribed by his dentist that’s 1% fluoride. He brushes and flosses daily. He had a check up about 6 months ago and was cavity free after fixing 2 small cavities. It’s been 6 months and he already has another large cavity…now on his front incissor…and his tooth has split down the middle.

      I’ve been wearing braces for a year (and have another 1-2 years to go). I’m on a primal diet, taking in High Vitamin Butter Oil and Cod Liver Oil. ( A, D3, E and K2)
      I never brush my teeth, I use some jewish soap that’s made out of coconuts on my teeth and I only blot, I barely floss, mostly only when I go for a cavity check up every 3 months to not be embarassed.
      I have 0 cavities, 0 gum disease and actually since going on the primal diet have healed 4 soft spots on my teeth.

      If this isn’t proof enough I don’t know what is.

    2. I’m sorry but if is your go to reputable website you’re not really *learning* anything. Repeating would be a better description. Think of it this way, why would Colgate put any information on it’s website that would convince people NOT to use their products? Why would they sponsor studies that are designed in a way that might yield results unfavorable to the sale of their products? Why would they fund dental schools that teach anything other than the standard use of products they sell? You are still a student so you haven’t had the benefit of having patients who do the opposite of what you are taught who are in better health than many of your patients who do as they are told. Give it an honest decade or two and see what information experience yields.

      Health is first and foremost to dental health. Health is first created with diet and lifestyle.

  73. I have never had a cavity, but if I don’t floss I get a ton up plaque build up for some reason. So I floss everyday and brush with a natural toothpaste 1-2 times a day.

  74. Personally for me,

    Flossing makes a world of difference for my dental hygiene besides the usual brushing and mouth rinsing. Your research findings are pretty interesting although I’m don’t quite trust the findings that baking soda is better than toothpaste.

  75. Great guide as a lot of these things I never even thought of especially some of the vitamin information for health gums and teeth.

  76. I use 3/4 tube of tooth paste. I add two tablespoon of H2O2, for germs; I had oil of oregano for healthy gums. the I add two tsps of Baking powder to de-acidify the mouth and turn it from acidic, germ homes, to…alkaline. Germs don’t like oxigenated areas, but the like acidic where they can grow and cause carries.

    Put all this mixture in a small wide mouth glass bottle, and also add some turmeric, 1/2 capful: Warning: if misused, it (turmeric) will stain your clothes (washes out) and some of our counter top, so brush with head over bowl and keep water running. There is no stain in your pretty mouth; fresh, sweet and oh….so good tasting, and no visits to the dentist, unless, of course you use toothpaste with fluoride the you’re guaranteed carries for life. When finished, you must us a metal tongue scraper for fresh breath and healthy body, all day.

  77. A few months ago when I had a wisdom tooth removed I was brushing my teeth with just water and sea salt and it made my teeth squeaky clean, literally, the brush made squeaky noises.

  78. My teeth went to hell on a high protein diet. Since reducing protein my oral health has improved. I suspect excess protein was leeching minerals from my body, or just creating an acidic environment.

    I am convinced that protein at any level above the bare minimum does more harm than good.

    It’s rice and potatoes for me.

    1. Protein is usually muscle meat. Muscle meat is higher in phosphate than Calcium.
      For every mg of phosphate you consume the amount of calcium has to be drawn from bone and teeth to process the phosphorus (cavity, soft spots).
      You end up with excess calculus on your teeth because of this imbalance.
      Calcium needs to be higher in the diet than phosphorus…a ratio of about 10:4.

      That is why a high protein diet caused you problems.
      Not because it’s acidic. Protein in its raw state is only slightly acidic and the phosphorus available in the muscle meat would counter this. But because you cook your proteins the acid level is extremely high. The phosphorus isn’t enough so more has to be drawn out of bone and teeth. On top of it the imbalance of the extra phosphorus in the meat creates extra calcium being drawn out of bone and teeth…

      Balance your meals and you won’t have this problem.
      Rice (without bran) and potatoes are okay as long as you have sufficient A, D, E and K2 + ALL minerals in your diet.

      Oysters, egg yolks, bone broth, bone marrow, organ meats and RAW milks from animal source…are all things that build strong teeth and bones, together with vegetables make the best balanced diet for a healthy mouth.

  79. I wonder if Mark needs that fresh feeling because being in kestosis gives you bad breath. Im not hating im just curious. I know that bad breath feelin from kestosis

  80. Floss in the shower! It helps with the mess 🙂 A recommendation from my dentist.

  81. I find the baking soda practice unpalatable, however. It’s WAY too abrasive for me, leaving me with the sensation that I’ve gotten a friction burn or something in my mouth.

  82. Dont use toothpaste in the morning, cause it makes me belch..

    Only use ist very sparse in the evening.

  83. What do people think of obtaining calcium from eggshells, which is mentioned in a few places on the web?

    Take some empty shells and wash out any remaining white, although leave the membrane.

    Sterilise in boiling water for a few minutes

    Allow to dry

    Crush up and then grind in e.g. a food processor or a coffee grinder

    Take a teaspoon of the powder and add it to the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon

    Leave for something like six hours.

    The result should be (well mostly) calcium citrate, which should in theory provide bioavailable calcium.

    Take with a Magnesium (e.g. citrate) supplement (unless your diet is otherwise rich in magnesium, which is fairly hard to achieve, I gather).

    Also with vitamin D (sunlight or supplement).

    I’ve read this more in the context of countering osteoporosis than helping teeth, but hopefully, it should do both.

    People have described the taste of the resulting calcium citrate as “pleasant”. I personally would not go that far (only just started), and I get it down by adding it to food, or to a mixture of warm water and coconut oil. I usually seem to have plenty of powdery residue, which I swallow down with liquid somehow, but I wonder how bioavailable that is … presumably it is still calcium carbonate.

    Perhaps I’m not using enough lemon juice.

    1. Never tried it but once I’m home from travels (in September) I’m giving it a go!! I’ll let you know. Stops wasting the shells. 😀

      1. Maybe you could do what a chef I once worked with did and add the eggshells to you bone broth. I put a ziplock baggie in the freezer and put eggshells and all kinds of table scraps in as they accumulate and later add them to my bone broth mix before boiling. I put a sweet potato skin in with my last broth and it was the best tasting one I’ve made so far!

  84. I ditched fluoride toothpaste a few years ago and went onto non fluoride toothpastes and then baking soda and next toothsoap.

    I bought the expensive toothsoap at first, but now have switched to just use a bar of kiss my face soap which is a hell of a lot cheaper and seems q similar.

    I had good teeth as a child and teenager, no fillings despite a poor diet, then in my early 20s i started experiencing problems with cavity formation and what felt like enamel being eaten away when I ate certain foods.

    Now I’ve ditched the grains and legumes, although still eating some nuts, taking vitamin D, eating a more primal diet, things have improved in the last few months but not completely.

  85. what should i do to strengthen the enamel?i am using colgate toothpaste and brush twice a day.i think my teeth become sensitive though more whiter .i drink green tea and it reduce bad breath and clean rhe mouth.

  86. Hey everyone just use Eco Dent toothpowder. It neutralizes acids in your saliva whitens teeth no SLS or flouride no sugars or sweetners and floss also. But if you people haven’t tried tooth powder do it you’ll never switch back to paste

  87. Hello, I just had to comment here. I am a Weston Price member raising 3 boys, and trying to feed them properly. I will consider it my biggest accomplishment if all 3 end up with enough room for their wisdom teeth. That is my goal!

  88. Well, for the serious reader, there’s a book by Dr. Robert O Nara called Money by the mouthful. He explains the dentists bias (lipid hypotheses anyone?) against some therapies that are excellent for oral hygiene. Caries, cavities, gum problems are all caused by bacteria that come from the external world into the mouth. People touch all kind of things and then put their hands in their mouths. This is where the bad bacteria come in from. The bacteria then start residing in the pocket of space between the gums and the teeth, right at the neck/root of the teeth. The real problems start when the bacteria start eating away at the roots of the teeth. Caries and cavities are only symptoms of this problem. Conventional Widsom says that if you clean your mouth of food particles, you have effectively cut off the food for bacteria to feed on. This sounds right but isnt. (high carb, low fat theory anyone?) The solution is really logical. Go straight for the bacteria. They have these devices called oral irrigators (viajet pro, water pik) that flush out the bacteria living in the space between the teeth and the gums. A regular routine is extremely effective at eliminating these bacteria. For those who are more cosmetically inclined, Dr. O Nara suggests using a tooth polisher to further remove any bacteria and get that glossy white look.

  89. I believe as far as chewsticks (siwak) go, arak is best, then olive, the maybe walnut. I’ve actually been feeling more fuzzy on primal, so i broke out my siwak

  90. I’ve been oil-pulling for over a year now. First thing in the morning swish around 1-2 Tbsp of oil (sesame, olive, or coconut). Spit it out, rinse, and brush.

    That’s it. Whiter teeth and eliminated my plaque. Awesome.

  91. Been doing Paleo for over a year; and the results are stunning. Loads of time spent at the dentist over the past 30 years because of a high carb starchy diet. No longer. Being told in the 70’s not to eat eggs; what else was there to eat? So I downed cereals and pasta and bagels and juices…. Cavity city. Oh and after starting Paleo; I said goodbye to my IBS as well. The bad science we were given in the 70’s is truly mind boggling. They couldn’t even get basic nutrition right. Stunning indictment of the medical world. Glad to see the good solid science done by Marks blog

  92. I recently got 10% off the Sonicare HealthyWhite toothbrush by using the code OralCare at… It works!

  93. Baking soda can be too abrasive, especially around fillings and implants.

  94. I have toiletbreath. Is that caused by a diet with alot of grains?

  95. 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!!

  96. Specifically with younger children that have learned to spit were primarily concerned with safety and seek the “seal of approval” of the American Dental Association on the label. As far as fluoride vs non-fluoride as long has it has the AMA label our vote is for fluoride! – TB

    Our team of Pediatric Dentists actually just covered the topic of toothpaste geared towards children. You can check it out here:

  97. I just brushed with (and tried for the first time) activated charcoal, leaving it on for 3 minutes after. Spit all of it out that I could, then brushed with magnesium oil (terribly nasty taste and it stings a bit) but my teeth feel very smooth. On the plus side, the old toothpaste that was kind of built up on my toothbrush got broken down and rinsed down the drain (I’m thinking from the magnesium oil) lol. I do still have some little spots of charcoal along my gums, but I doubt leaving it there to go on its own will cause any harm.

    1. magnesium oil is also supposed to be anti-inflammatory. I do remember noticing after the first time using it a year or so ago to brush my teeth, that my gums seemed less inflamed.

  98. I went Primal one month ago after a long break, and my teeth have been bothering me a lot. All the spots where I have gotten a cavity filled are hurting whenever I eat berries or drink cold water. I am wondering if its some sort of detox? I wish I knew. I am going to the dentist for my normal cleaning soon and will make sure its not more cavities, but I find it odd it started about 20 days after going primal. I eat about 1 cup of berries a day now, I wonder if its is that? Anyone ever have this?

  99. OK. Guess I am done with toothpaste then. That study in the journal of dentistry from India is compelling.

    We’ve been using a xylitol based toothpaste in lieu of fluoride. Seems though that as long as you eliminate grains, floss, and use the A-D3-K2 trifecta you will be A-OK.

  100. Thanks for sharing this information. I believe everyone should know how to take good care of their teeth. The truth is that there are so many health risks associated with not practicing good oral hygiene and having your teeth cleaned. We should visit a dentists more often before its too late and lead to an emergency dental care

  101. One of the greatest things one can do to prevent cavities and keep their teeth healthy is to avoid grains and sugar consumption. I know the sugar thing is obvious, but the grains is less so. Our teeth weren’t meant to handle such large quantities of phytic acid as we consume now.

  102. Youre right Mark- the benefits of the miswak are many. Some additional studies are lised on our site. Try pur fresh peelu tree root (Salvadora persica) natural tooth-sticks ideal for daily use and easy to carry as they are small size.

  103. I was Thinking to make a toothpaste would love your feedback. I bought the ingredients and not mind the complexity yet want it to be safe I have very very sensitive teeth, have receding gums, had periodontal work. Teeth are very healthy yet sensitive. what amounts is the other part could get support on. I do have 2 gold fillings and the old kind whatever they are.. which may prohibit the bentonite clay and sticking just with the arrowroot and coconut oil plus the ingredient below
    I have sensitive teeth. Also the amounts to use of each would be great support too.

    bentonite clay
    arrow root
    Myrrh powder
    grounded to powder: anise seed and fennel seed
    Grounded to powder: basil leaf, sage leaf, spearmint leaf, thyme leaf, neem leaf
    aloe vera gel
    coconut oil
    1 drop peppermint essential oil

    not into stevia or xylitol, baking soda or charcoal. smiles

  104. I have been to the dentist a lot recently, I guess I need to start brushing my teeth a lot better and more frequently! I have dental anxiety, I absolutely hate the dentist and I have a phobia, so it doesn’t help how I don’t brush my teeth!

    If you also suffer from dental phobia, check this blog out:

    Thanks for the post

  105. could i able to used baking soda when brushing teeth even i had tooth decay?

  106. It’s going to be ending of mine day, however before ending I am reading this wonderful article to increase my know-how.

  107. I’ve read most of the comments and I’m surprised I’ve only seen oil pulling mentioned a couple of times. It has dramatically improved my oral health along with some other positive general health effects. I’ve always had decent teeth but I was starting to have some issues with receding gums and some inflammation due to gingivitis as I got older. Oil pulling (mostly with coconut oil) has completely reversed these issues along with the added benefit of some tooth whitening. Inflammation in other parts of my body has seemed to diminish as well, allergies and congestion have all but disappeared. I started oil pulling long before going primal otherwise I expect a primal lifestyle would have caused most of the same results, possibly minus the positive oral health effects. Google oil pulling and you’ll see all sorts of amazing claims. Most should probably be taken with a grain of salt, but I myself have seen some amazing things and plan to keep doing it.

  108. If salvadora persica contains sodium bicarbonate, doesn’t miswak ruin your teeth? Does anyone know if neem contain it too?

  109. I’ve just found 5 cavities. Since then I’ve amended my diet, started flossing every few days, use a waterpik (water flosser) daily, Maswik stick, oil pulling with coconut oil and an essential oil mouthwash. NO FLURIDE.
    2 weeks later my cavities were smaller- looking forward to perminant good health

  110. Brushing with baking soda alone (as a powder) is abrasive. don’t use it alone!

  111. Thanks for the nice information. Every one should follow these simple tips to have health teeth for life long time. Keep sharing your blog with new updates.

  112. I love Krista’s Natural Products’ clay based toothpastes. Teeth feel super clean and polished, there’s only 4 ingredients, no plastic, and it’s all organic

  113. I have developed a natural hygiene routine for oral care that I would like to try that involves using a Hydrofloss with ozonated water, using ozonated water as a mouthwash, brushing the teeth with Happy Gum Gel from Nadine Artemis’ line of products, using Uncle Harry’s Liquid Remineralization, and using Uncle Harry’s whitening product or one of their products, I forget which. Also, see an ozone dentist for check-ups and cleanings every six months. I also want to see Dr. Mark Breiner for a dental cleanup He will check for cavitations and clean out as needed and remove my fillings so I can get them treated with ozone at Jonathan Dental Spa in New Jersey. Not sure if Jonathan Dental Spa is willing to do this yet, but that’s the plan I have for myself

  114. Before I starting reading about dental care, I though brushing is ultimate thing we can do for our teeth. But, I released there is more than to practice in our daily routine. In this blog, I could able to view the glimpses of everything on sort. Thank you.