Oral Health: What You Eat (and Don’t Eat) Counts

Healthy man teeth and a dentist mouth mirrorWith conventional wisdom’s take on oral care, we’re left with a pretty superficial understanding of oral health. What if, for instance, cavities imply more than bad brushing habits? What if we changed the entire template from one focused on cosmetic and sensory criteria to an understanding founded on whole health principles? Answer: we’d be much closer to the truth.

Consider this. A recent study involving over 37,000 dental patients found that “patient-reported general health and risk factors were negatively associated with an overall composite oral health score,” with study authors noting their results supporting a “growing body of evidence linking oral and systemic health.” As for the particular health connections, you’d be surprised at the span of influence: cardiovascular disease, pneumonia, diabetes, even pregnancy issues.

As we speak, diagnostic tests are even being developed using oral cells and saliva to detect anything from hormonal imbalances to specific diseases. Clearly, the mouth is where it’s at in more ways than one. Maybe that manic focus on brushing and mouthwash really does fall a little short, no? As usual, there’s more to the picture than we’re led to believe.

Common Oral Health Issues and Their Roots in Modern Eating

As a nation convinced that it has health at the forefront, our dental stats are pretty shabby. Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that 91% of adults had cavities. What’s more, almost a third of all adult Americans have teeth issues that are going untreated. Some 64.7 million American adults are contending with periodontal disease, an inflammatory bacterial disease of the gums. For those 65 and up, the percentage is a jaw-dropping 64%.

As far as culprits go, let’s kick things off with one that’s easy to swallow: sugar. Dentists the world over would have you thinking that it’s public enemy number one, and research certainly seems to back this one up. Just as it does in your gut, sugar provides food for deleterious bacteria lurking in the recesses of your mouth. Frequently infusing your oral biosphere with sugar acidifies your mouth, whittling away at your tooth enamel. Less tooth enamel means greater risk of infection.

Which brings us around to acid. Might that be the real public (oral) enemy number one? Denise Minger certainly thinks it’s worth considering, as as she shared a few years ago in her story of dental rehabilitation. She found that a diet rich in fruit (what many consider to be a “healthy” diet) was dramatically increasing the acidity in her mouth. By carefully selecting those fruits with a high pH, and shunning those with a low pH (among other changes), Denise was able to see dramatic reductions in her tooth damage and a literal rebuilding of her enamel.

Fermented foods, as Denise highlighted, can be another factor. While they certainly provide our gastrointestinal system with a much-needed boost, fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi are actually quite acidic. If your oral health is already hurting, it might be wise to opt for a quality probiotic supplement instead.

The erosive effects of both acid and sugar can be seen in raw vegans. A study of 130 raw foodies found “median daily frequency of ingesting citrus fruit to be 4.8” and average consumption of fruit amounted to a hefty 9.5 kg of fruit. That’s a lot of fructose, and a truckload of acid. Chances are, there was also plenty of phytic acid from nuts, grains and legumes in the mix. The authors concluded that “a raw food diet bears an increased risk of dental erosion compared to conventional nutrition.” And that’s compared to conventional nutrition. It would be interesting to see how Primal eaters throw off that curve.

The Connection between Inflammatory Disease and Oral Health

And then there’s the feedback between certain inflammatory diseases and poor oral health. Gluten sensitivity/intolerance has been shown to cause serious oral damage. One study demonstrated direct correlations between celiac disease in children and enamel degradation, along with increased incidence of cavities. It’s hard to say whether this is due to the inevitable malabsorption side effects for celiacs, or the inflammation. Probably both. Likewise, a similar effect can be expected for those suffering from other gut diseases and disorders, especially Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis.

Then there’s diabetes…. The association between poor oral health and diabetes is well documented, with patients showing greater risk for tooth loss, far greater risk of developing periodontal disease, and an increase in cavities. The previous study indicates a greater incidence of bacterial strains that are linked to cavities and periodontitis. But it’s a bit of a chicken or egg scenario: is it the poor oral health contributing to diabetes (via less efficient sugar breakdown and therefore glycemic spikes), or is the inflammation brought on by diabetes to blame? Or perhaps (quite likely), they work together to create a vicious feedback loop.

Primal Resolutions for Common Oral Health Problems

There’s one thing all of these scenarios have in common: a poor nutritional foundation. Our teeth rely on a steady ingress of certain vital nutrients. Simplifying your diet and getting plenty of nutrient-dense foods like leafy greens, quality meats and organs, grass-fed butter, and lots of colorful produce should ensure a well-rounded edible spectrum that encourages healthy oral maintenance.

But what if we’re already working with compromised oral health? Solid Primal nutrition is the base, but some of us need a little more strategizing.

Which brings us to vitamins A, D, and K2. Weston A. Price wrote at length about the powerful role these nutrients play in oral health (along with overall health, of course). Unfortunately, Price appears to have been way ahead of his time, and the world is still chewing on his data (and in most cases, unfortunately spitting it back out). But the anecdotal evidence (Denise Minger being one of the more notables) continues to accumulate, and there are a few studies that verify Price’s astute observations. Both pregnant women and children, for instance, have shown a greater tendency towards periodontal disease when vitamin D deficiency is present. Vitamin A intake has been associated with lower incidence of cavities. As for vitamin K2, several studies suggest it may be one of the most pivotal of nutrients. The catch is that these nutrients work synergistically to be fully beneficial, meaning you’re far more likely to see oral results when you consume them simultaneously.

Next, there’s acidic foods. Limit acidic produce, a handy list of which you can find in Denise’s post. Admittedly, the list is long, but most Primal types favor vegetables over fruit anyway. Consider the list more of a guide.

As for acidic ferments, if your dental health is good, don’t sweat it. If you have concerns about enamel density and cavities, cut back and rinse your teeth with water or an alkaline drink as you eat them.

As for sugar and gluten, well, there’s already plenty of reason to kick those to the curb. If you need yet another, there you go.

To Brush or Not to Brush…and How?

This brings us full circle. When we dial in the nutrition, what should a Primal-style dental routine look like? First, there’s the modern toothbrush and all of it’s flaws. Many people are making a shift back towards chewing sticks, as preliminary evidence suggests that these may remove more plaque and promote better gingival health than the average toothbrush. While the appeal of getting back to ancestral basics has a certain appeal, apparently you need some pretty in-depth training to get the technique right. And while it has it’s flaws, I know my toothbrush, and I know how to wield it without slicing off a chunk of gum every time. Sometimes it comes down to convenience.

But there may be a happy common ground for those who seek it. A company called OraWellness has developed oral care products (and techniques) that offer an alternative—especially for those with sensitivities. Check them out if this appeals.

And as for toothpaste, you can either go with a tried-and-true natural formula like Squigle Tooth Builder or Claybrite. Squigle uses xylitol to discourage pathogens from setting up shop and adds minerals that presumably aid in re-mineralization. Claybrite also uses xylitol but throws in mineral-rich clay. As I shared a few weeks ago when I talked about my own personal care routine, I use these on occasion and offer them to guests.

Alternatively, you could make your own tooth powder recipe. Do your own research on this one and consider your personal needs, but you’ll find everything from baking soda to hydrogen peroxide (what I often use). As an aside, I know a lot of people who’ve had luck with activated charcoal for whitening. (A fun way to freak out the kids, too.) As always, share your own favorite brands and recipes on the comment board.

Thanks for reading, everyone. Have you struggled with oral health? Found anything within the Primal sphere that’s helped you on the road to recovery? Share your thoughts, and have a great end to the week.


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.

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

77 thoughts on “Oral Health: What You Eat (and Don’t Eat) Counts”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Our early ancestors didn’t brush… didn’t floss… didn’t get cavities.

    We have the ability to remineralize our teeth… to withstand acidic insults… to take back what rightfully belongs to us… our oral health. Nutrition giants, Weston A Price & May Mellanby, have published data proving the vital importance that vitamins A, D and K play in tooth remineralization.

    Most readers know just how important these vitamins are but I’d be willing to bet dollops that most readers don’t get real vitamin A (preformed vitamin A, retinol) in their diets… Do you?

    1. Perhaps but I’ll continue to brush my teeth (gently) with my all natural toothpaste and floss daily and go to the dentist twice a year but hey … whatever works for you Brian. I’ve had one cavity in my life, after age 60 and it was so shallow I didn’t take anything when they drilled, but maybe I’ve been lucky. I just checked, the multi I take has 4500 IU’s of Vitamin A, 45% of it retinyl acetate so hopefully that’s good based on your assertion. 🙂

      1. You are most likely deficient in vitamin A… 2,000 iu of retinyl acetate is not very much at all. If you’re getting mid-day sun (or) supplementing with D3, your need for vitamin A goes up even more (so do your vitamin K dependent proteins).

        Nutrition masters like Chris Masterjohn reference our early ancestors probably getting 20,000 iu or more of vitamin A (real vitamin A). I’m not suggesting that you aim for 20,000 iu of vitamin A per day; however, you should consider consuming at least 5,000 iu per day.

        Remember that you certainly can’t count on beta carotene to give you much help here either.

        1. Is liver or organs a part of the kitavans diet? Or are they able to get enough out of tubers, though an inferior source? If A is crucial it must be found in every hunter-gatherer groups diet?

          1. There are genetic variations at play here… two gene variations in the BCMO1 gene that determine a person’s ability to convert beta-carotene into the retinol a body uses. SNP’s rs12934922 and rs7501331 control a person’s conversion rate of beta carotene into retinol.

            Guess what population is really good at converting beta carotene to retinol?? That’s right, the Kitavans… then, there’s just about everyone else.

      2. I know this post was done a while ago, but when I was younger I would get cavities almost every month, and I ate to fit that. Burgers, fries, soda, ice cream. Then I turned 13 and got scurvy. Really changed stuff around, and I focused more on fruits. I rarely ate vegetables, and even before all that had severe constipation. A few months after getting scurvy I went Paleo for the first time. Only lost ten pounds and still had issues. A few more months and I removed tomatoes and potatoes from my eating habits with the idea of low-lectin. It worked completely, and I lost thirty pounds in a week. Guess I just had sensitivities. Now I decided to go back to being considered some type of Paleo over what I was before which was low-lectin pescetarian. I mainly eat leafy greens, root vegetables, fish, eggs, berries, olive oil, some herbs and specific fruits. I refuse nightshades, legumes, nuts, grain, red meat, dairy and all of that. All I do for my teeth is maybe once a week I gently brush or gargle salt water. They are cleaner and healthier than I have ever seen before. This is just my personal story on gaining my health and life back.

    2. I’m pretty sure many of our ancestors did suffer from tooth decay, they definitely weren’t impervious to it. In the end, even crocodiles get their teeth cleaned by birds 😉

    3. Primal dentist here…er, dentist that eats primal-ish. In my observation nobody eats like our ancestors ate no matter how hard we try. Even some bottled water (healthy right?) has a very low pH. Food manufacturers and producers and so clever. This is something that not even my grandparents had to contend with for most of their lives.

      I love the work of Weston Price but I don’t agree with some of it. I’ve seen enough people in my time that have unsuccessfully tried to heal their cavities. It is true you can “heal” some carious lesions but once the actual structure of the tooth is cavitated no healthy diet or oil pulling or no amount of fat soluble vitamins or whatever is going to bring that tooth structure back. Once it’s gone it’s gone forever.

      On a side note, as someone who makes his own fermented sauerkraut I was personally offended by this article 😉

      1. Wife is dentist too… I am supplement company owner (Ancestral Supplements). In fact, we developed a product together called “Tooth Restore” that is rich in vitamin A, D and K (and others)… This is not commercially available, nor does it need to be for people to reap the benefits.

        Developed this product because of her patients that had chronic and recurrent decay… especially the young ones… it’s heartbreaking. Turns out that these patients responded incredibly well with the addition of these vitamins.

        Nourishing whole foods should always come first… supplements second.

        Agree that decay past a certain point can not be rehabilitated; however, I believe that you can still arrest the decay. Have seen this many times.

        Agree with the bottles water thing… devoid of anything nourishing. We only drink Mountain Valley Spring water (comes in glass) or well water. Even bring this with us to restaurants for our annual eat out.

        Agree with you on the sauerkraut issue… deeply offensive.

        1. So, how can I get a hold of the tooth restore? My wife have always struggled with her oral health… And although she’s trying to eat primally, she’s not quite there yet… Cultural and social pressure, more than anything.

      2. Jeff,
        So what do you recommend we do after eating sauerkraut or fruit?
        I know it is a bad idea to brush your teeth right after eating.
        What’s the solution? Rinse our mouths with plain water? Alcohol-free mouthwash? Chewing gum with erythritol/sorbitol/xylitol? And then brushing our teeth an hour or so afterwards?

        1. If you give your body the raw ingredients to remineralize your teeth (without nutrient inhibitors), the acid issue is a non-issue. Consume the fat soluble vitamins… in the right amounts… swish with some sea salt and/or baking soda if you want… pH restored.

          I don’t really see a need to brush… our early ancestors certainly didn’t brush… but if you must, go right ahead… feel good about it.

        2. Totally agree with Brian on this. If you’re not eating those highly processed food-like substances and you’re getting the right nutrients then the acidity is a non issue.

          As far as brushing after eating an apple or sauerkraut, just give your mouth a few minutes to get back to normal. The body’s saliva gets the oral pH back to normal automatically (or at least it tries) and does it fairly quickly.

          1. Normally it does. But my saliva production is unfortunately low.

  2. I read Denise’s article in despair after what seemed like an unending series of cavities and extreeeeeeme sensitivity, despite a primal/gluten free diet and fastidious brushing etc. It was really getting me down as nothing seemed to be stopping the decline.

    I was already taking Vitamin D (I have MS and hypothyroid) but started on the high dose Vitamin K she recommends and made sure to eat liver pate (more) regularly for the Vitamin A. I haven’t had any cavities since then, my sensitivity is greatly reduced, and last time I visited the dentist I was complemented on how clean and clear my dental health was, which are words I never ever thought I’d hear applied to me…!

    One caveat – I made other lifestyle changes (a serious reduction in stress probably helped) and obviously I now have more gluten-free years under my belt – but I do feel like the combination had additive value. Given concerns about osteoporosis and long term effects of Vitamin D in isolation, I won’t be stopping the Vit K any time soon.

    One final note – I’ve now also stopped flossing (which I hated) and started using interdental brush sticks, which are amazing.

    1. I also use the interstitial brushes for between my teeth, but I floss too. In addition I use an Aquarius Waterflosser before brushing with an electric toothbrush. These four steps sound like a cumbersome overkill but actually only take about 10 minutes for the whole process. The result has been much healthier gum tissue around my back molars, which are hard to get at with floss and toothbrush alone. I’m still looking for a toothpaste I can really like. Anything with foaming agents or fluoride in it gives me a rash around the corners of my mouth. The more natural ones I’ve tried all eave something to be desired, so the search continues.

  3. Oh my goodness! The ONLY time I every had a cavity in my entire life was when I was in a raw vegan “phase”- and I had three at one time!! I hadn’t made the connection until just now, but I bet the cavities came from the excessive fruit and raw treats that I was consuming.

    There is a particularly brutal scene of a dentist visit in the documentary “That Sugar Film”. I think it is worth viewing, especially if you have kids who crave soda!

    I’m curious, does anyone have experience with charcoal for whitening? I can’t find any research to support it, except for anecdotal stories. I feel like if I ask my dentist he will poo-poo the idea without knowing much about it.

  4. Oil pulling is also a great way to whiten teeth and clean them. I’ve also seen some anecdotal evidence where people have healed cavities with Price’s fermented cod liver oil and butter blend. Might be some good topics for future posts.

  5. Most dental products and treatments are aimed at killing bacteria in the mouth. But what if, like other mucosal tissue, the presence of a beneficial biome is what determines health?

  6. I had to get a gum graft earlier this year, and I’m only 36 years old. I wouldn’t wish this procedure on my worst enemy! My hope is I’ll never have to do it again, so I’ll definitely apply the tips here. Sad to hear sauerkraut is now off the table, though. I’m surprised nothing was mentioned about oil pulling, that seems to be a popular method of keeping teeth healthy.

    1. A caveat regarding oil pulling (as per my hygienist)… In addition to being time-consuming, swishing oil around one’s mouth doesn’t remove plaque adequately. For that you need something that provides mild abrasion, such as a toothbrush along with professional cleaning. Again, this is only one person’s opinion..On the other hand, all the glowing info I’ve ever seen regarding oil pulling has been strictly anecdotal.

    2. I’m looking into the pinhole procedure, supposed to be less invasive than grafting. Would love to see an article here on the causes and solutions for gum recession – bruxism is so difficult to stop.

      1. Recession is often caused by aggressive brushing and bruxism is mostly caused by stress.

      2. Mark’s March 6th post briefly touches on bruxism – it may be a mild form of sleep apnea, or possibly related to a magnesium deficiency. Mine do not appear to be related to a magnesium deficiency.

  7. When I cut out grains, my teeth became way less sensitive (i.e., not sensitive), so that even if I eat quite a bit of sugary stuff, they don’t hurt like they used to. I think better mineral absorption may have played a role.

  8. Two important factors I don’t see mentioned: fasting is also of great benefit. People that graze throughout the day have far longer stretches of bacterial growth and acid production. If you eat 3 square meals (or less if you do IF) you expose your teeth to far less acids and sugars. Furthermore, eat your sugars! Saliva has a strongly protective effect (both antimicrobial and alkaline), even when eating acidic and sweet fruits. If you drink your smoothies and what not however, you’ll barely produce any saliva at all, leaving your teeth exposed. My 2 cents, Nils

    1. It’s not the acidity that you need to worry about… just don’t brush your teeth after consuming acidic things. Or, swish with some sea salt to restore pH…

      1. On a similar matter, does anyone know if tea or coffee is likely to contribute to oral thrush (maybe due to their acidity?) I’d love to hear Marks thoughts on this as I am probably 90/10 primal but have noticed a white residue on my tounge lately that I’m thinking is probably thrust (have never really had it before). Any home remedies that people have found actually work would be greatly appreciated (I’m gargling with apple cider vinegar & water twice a day which seems to have lessened it but not totally removed it). Also, if not coffee (I drink probably 3-4 cups of mostly instant decaf per day- have cut back to 2 atm) then what else could have caused this? (I don’t consume sugar, except a small piece of fruit rarely, and eat fairly low cab). I’ve started taking kefir again, would this help or hinder thrush? Am probably thinking I’m a bit run down/sleep deprived atm due to shift work… Anyway, any advice re this type of oral health is greatly appreciated 🙂

        1. Doesn’t sound a lot like thrush. Lots of people have a whitish coat to their tongue. Simply brushing it might do the trick.

          Anyway, try to scrape that white stuff off. If your tongue looks beefy underneath or bleeds, then it’s probably thrush in need of treatment.

          I just finished a course of antibiotics for a nasty, nasty URI. Three days in I developed oral thrush (this is usual for me, ever since a vicious double-whammy of antibiotics many years ago). Caught it early and oil pulled with coconut oil twice a day. Still had the white tongue, but the thrush remained mild and there was no swelling or signs of anything but a superficial infection. When the antibiotics were finished, it was no time at all before normal flora rectified the situation. I also noticed my teeth were noticeably whiter…an effect I had, in the past, dismissed as bunk.

          You can add a tea tree oil rinse…a couple of drops in a half glass of water…and/or a dilute hydrogen peroxide rinse. The kefir is a good idea. Be sure to consume it more than once a day.

          1. Thanks for your comments Nannsi especially re kefir (I was contemplating stopping taking it as everything I read on the web said that kefir, kimchi etc can contribute to thrush as it feeds the bad bacteria as well as the good, but this kind of goes against my intuition as before refrigeration & cultures without refrigeration (I’m thinking Mongolia etc) have fermented foods all the time don’t they. I’m going to try the oil pulling with coconut oil so thanks for that suggestion

    2. Coffee and tea are acidic, that’s true. But they are also antimicrobial due to their high polyphenol content. So in the end their effect is probably small. They do stain teeth though (which is not harmful, but somewhat unappealing)

    3. Yes, coffee especially. Do not brush for at least 30 minutes after acid exposure. Baking soda in water swished in the mouth can raise the pH if you desperately need to brush right away.

  9. I suspect that the key here is the same as almost always: the mouth microbiome.
    I’ve never had more cavities and I even lost one tooth since starting to eat primal. Maybe it’s only a coincidence, but I’m sure trying to monitor my nutrient intake more to see if there is any deficiencies to avoid a repeat.

  10. Great post! I’ve been blessed with healthy teeth, which I am very thankful for. Even during my vegetarian/vegan years I never really had problems. I’m sticking with my sonicare and floss, but I’ve been using all kinds of alternative toothpastes for years. I’ve done DIY with baking soda and coconut oil. Added a few drops of peppermint essential oil and one time added xylitol. Have used Earthpaste and a brand with charcoal called Magic Mud. I’ve really liked them all. Just dumping an activated charcoal capsule on a wet toothbrush is super effective at whitening. My teeth are just as white as when I used Whitestrips, with no sensitivity.

  11. I started an n=1 experiment Dec 2015 to see what my teeth/mouth would be like with only brushing with water alone once a day. That ‘experiment’ is now past month 16 with no issues. Before going primal in 2011 I had tooth sensitivity, a cavity every year or two and two teeth where the calcium was eroding. After going primal my two teeth recalcified, my sensitivity went away and I haven’t had any cavities. I still go in for dental cleaning twice a year – the only concerns the dentist office had was my lack of fluoride and that maybe I should brush with water twice a day. I know if takes them less time for the cleaning now that pre-primal, but they still have a little bit of work to do. Eat food with plenty of nutrients and keeping my mouth biome happy sure made a difference.

    1. Toothpaste is a scam. It is completely unnecessary. So is brushing twice daily, from a perspective of preventing calculus. Once before bed is adequate. Always do a once daily brushing before bed to compensate for the reduced flow of saliva. Flossing can be done 2x/wk for someone who eats no grain, but really needs to be done daily for SAD eaters.

      1. Oh, also wanted to say that fluoride is pretty much a scam, too. SAD eaters will gain some benefit from it and those benefits may indeed outweigh the risks. Primalists can skip it.

        Most people don’t know that fluoride is actually used off-label for caries prevention. Its FDA use is to fight sensitivity.

  12. I’m kind of a paradox as my strength continues to increase after more than two years primal, inflammation is down, I throw logs around in the forest and swing from trees and go for long hikes now that I’m nearing sixty, doing all sorts of things I couldn’t do when I was young. And yet: teeth continue to get worse. My grandmother lost her teeth at 30 and my dad at 80, so maybe it’s an implacable genetic wall I’m up against. I was thirty years a vegetarian and could eat four or five bowls of unsoaked, unsprouted (etc.) black beans a night several times a week for, well, decades, so maybe I’m experiencing the momentum of decades of phytates and all sorts of anti-nutrients (fight club I call it) and healthy whole wheat (aka sugar) and eating brown rice as a staple (glucose AND fight club!). I’m getting younger and my teeth are getting older. I’m an assiduous reader of Denise Minger. Haven’t had the money to go more purely primal but I’m pretty good. I got severe food poisoning last week and threw it off in a day like it was nothing. I just keep getting stronger. I’m trying to set things up so that within the year I’m hunting and fishing and growing my own organic, both in Ontario and here when I visit my parents in the mountains of Tennessee. Anyone else out there have this paradox: huge new super powers but it’s like you’re paying for it with your teeth? Okay, you’ve read this far, I’ll tell you a secret: I’m thinking of ripping the offending teeth out–this is the kind of thing people think about when they’ve had multiple root canals–and hanging them around my neck on a necklace. Sort of like Grok after a really bad fistfight. Or weirder: what if the bad teeth are actually making me healthier, like the way Mark says that carrying a light load of parasites can make you stronger? –sent from deep, deep in the Appalachians

    1. I’m 64 this year, been primal for about 4 years, hunt, fish and have a big organic garden. I’ve been making my own toothpaste (electric toothbrush) with clay, diatomaceous earth (calcium), baking soda, coconut oil, stevia and use a water pic with salt water. Sometimes I use Jason brand toothpaste, one of the few I can find in Canada without SLS. My hygienist says my gums are in good shape and I have had much less plaque buildup (cheaper and quicker cleanings!) The tooth issues I am having now are actually with fillings and root canals I had done 20+ years ago…no more root canals for me…I have had 2 of the offending teeth removed and I will not go the root canal route any more! I am actually happy to get rid of the old mercury filled teeth! I will not give up my daily sauerkraut habit!

      1. Diatomaceous earth is incredibly abrasive… you do know how it kills insects, right? It is way to abrasive for dental enamel. Baking soda is quite safe, though.

      2. I’m curious, where does one find food-grade clay (I’m in Canada, too. Calgary, to be specific)? Is it powered? or moist like the stuff you dig out of a river bed? I’ve made my own toothpaste in the past using baking soda, and diatomaceous earth, and am about to switch back to that mix. I prefer a powder offer a paste, but I’d be interested in trying some clay in it, too.

        1. Amazon has Yerba Prima Bentonite Clay. It’s almost a gel. I mix that with aloe juice, stevia and licorice root extract for homemade toothpaste.

        2. Hi Steve – I used to live in Calgary. You can buy bentonite clay from planet organic or community health foods. I also used to order from well.ca

        3. Diatomaceous earth is too abrasive for tooth enamel. Redmond clay is excellent for brushing, you can buy it in bulk and mix it yourself or just buy Earthpaste.

    2. Do you have periodontal disease? Currently, there is no “cure” for it and if it isn’t being treated, it is progressive.

  13. About 10 years ago, at 26 years old, I literally had a tooth fall apart in my mouth. I seriously thought for a moment that I was having one of those tooth-falling-out dreams, and I’m still surprised that they didn’t have to pull the whole tooth. I’ve always had a few cavities, but nothing that bad. I had assumed that it was because two years earlier I had moved from Calgary, where the water was fluoridated at the time, to Vancouver, where the water wasn’t fluoridated. My diet, while poor at the time, hadn’t changed from one city to another. It was pointed out to me a few months ago that it could have been a Vitamin D deficiency. That seems to be there more likely culprit, as the move took me from the sunniest city in Canada (sunny year round, even when it’s -30°) to the least sunny city in Canada (cloudy from mid Sept to early June). The cavity rate seems back to normal since I started taking Vitamin D in the winter months.

    About two months ago I started taking Vitamin K2. It hasn’t been long enough to tell whether it’s had an effect on my oral health, but I can tell you that for the first month my teeth had that strange feeling you get when something is healing. I’m definitely curious to see the long term effects.

    1. Just remember that vitamins A, D and K work cooperatively. You will not see full benefit without the contributions of each… what’s worse is that you can actually do harm… what do you think happens if you consume high levels of D3 (which everyone is doing these days) without the K2. In other words, what happens if you increase calcium absorption without the mechanism to usher this mineral to appropriate tissues… not good things.

      As I’ve stated before, if you increase one of these fat soluble vitamins, make sure that you are paying attention to the others. They work cooperatively, synergistically and protectively.

  14. Couldn’t agree more! My dentist said my teeth were fine, come back when you’re ready . . . and I went 20 years between checkups. Teeth were great! One filling. Primal-ish eating and regular toothbrushing were key!

  15. I’ve had severe periodontal issues all of my life. (I’m 60.) There’s widespread periodontal disease and gluten intolerance in my family. After going Primal a few years ago, things improved for me, but a lot of residual damage remained. About five years ago after refusing yet another perio surgery, I opted for a non-surgical treatment called Perio Protect, which greatly reduced the periodontal disease. I have 2 dental cleanings a year, take Vitamin D/K, CoQ10, plus a chewable probiotic specifically for teeth and gums. I have a collagen powder shake every day. We don’t do fluoride. I use EcoDent tooth powder, and sometimes a xylitol toothpaste, I do oil pulling, and I stay far away from sugar. My gums are doing okay for the moment, and I’ve had no tooth issues since going Primal.

    1. Where is your vitamin A? This could help you immensely. You are doing a great job with the vitamins D, K, CoQ10 and collagen; however, you need vitamin A.

      As I’ve stated before… Wife is dentist… I am supplement company owner (Ancestral Supplements). Without real vitamin A, you will never have a fully functioning immune system.

      As I’ve stated before… if you increase one of the fat soluble vitamins, make sure that you are paying attention to the others. They work cooperatively, synergistically and protectively.

      1. I take Vitamin A, just forgot to include it in the post comment. 🙂

        1. What brand of chewable probiotic do you use – Udo’s Choice, perhaps?

          1. I use Naturewise Oral Health Probiotics for dental issues.

  16. Not to downplay dietary factors, but Consider fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride helps with remineralization, creating fluoroapatite, which is much more reisistant to acid than calcium apatite. I am inclined to stay away from flupride, but benefita to oral hygiene outweigh risks.

    1. the best re-mineralizer is vitamin k2. And it’s not toxic unlike fluoride.

      1. I agree. I did a lot of research on fluoride and don’t use it in our water or our toothpaste. K2 and collagen work quite well, no need for a toxin like fluoride.

    2. For most people who eat a proper diet, the risks do not outweigh the benefits. We also need to consider the ill effects of fluoride on our entire skeleton. What good are strong teeth if our bones are crumbling?

  17. Paleo for years but what really set my gums and teeth back to full health was supplementing with vitamin k2 (mk4). (K1 didn’t do anything for me.) I supplement with all the fat soluble vitamins but K was the last one I started to supplement and it made all the difference to ridding plaque and getting the teeth clean & enamel strong.

    My thoughts on this are that paleo humans hunting for fat rich meats get regular doses but in our modern diet we lack this key nutrient. Recommend this link for more info on Vitamin K: https://chrismasterjohnphd.com/2016/12/09/the-ultimate-vitamin-k2-resource/

  18. Theobromine.

    Surprised no one mentioned it.

    Toothpaste or raw cocao 😉

    Shown to be more effective than fluoride in forming enamel. The enamel is even stronger.

  19. Brother, can I use your article and point out to your website in one of my videos somewhere this month? I like the article but I like to make it compacter in the video… perhaps you can write a conclusion and I can do my thing around it and in the end, I point out to your article or something? I like us to work together as a family of creators. Cheers.

  20. I found my teeth improved massively after being primal for a while. I used to occasionally get toothache and feel like a couple of teeth were becoming “lightweight” or “hollowing” and might be mortally wounded everytime I ate pork crackling. These days I rarely think about my teeth, they just in there, tighter than ever. Almost feels like I could crack bones open to get at that marrow!

    Markedly improved oral health was not something I expected when my primal journey began, but definitely one of hundreds of reasons I cannot imagine going back. I might just make it through life without ever needing a filling, because I’m primal for life!!

  21. I started using Orawellness’ Shine toothpaste a few weeks ago. The results have been AMAZING. Whiter teeth, and an almost total loss of the sensitivity I used to have. (I ate an orange straight out of the fridge the other day, and half way through I stopped and said “whoa, wait a minute…I haven’t done this in years!)

    Highly recommend them. I have tried all the vitamins, eat lots of liver and eggs, but haven’t seen anything as remarkable as using Shine.

    1. I’ve also been using Shine since it’s launch in February or March. I like it, but it’s more abrasive than I’d like and there are other natural tooth cleaners I like better. Those who are worried about thinning enamel should be cautious with this stuff.

  22. I’ll add one more risk factor: Sjögren’s syndrome.
    This is an autoimmune disease characterized by decreased saliva excretion.
    This is a double whammy: 1) Saliva is slightly alkaline, so lots of saliva can help you restore the correct pH of your oral cavity even after ingesting food with acidic juices. Decreased saliva production hinders this process and sets you up for tooth decay. 2) In my understanding, saliva is the main vehicle delivering all the important water-soluble minerals to your enamel – so those with a dry mouth (or simply too little saliva production) are at a disadvantage when it comes to enamel [re]building even if they eat well. So if you maintain a good dental routine and eat Primally and still struggle with dental caries, consult a doctor to find out if you have Sjogren’s.

  23. I never thought that there is a strong correlation between eating a healthy diet and keeping one’s mouth healthy. As I feel concerned about eating too much fruit can increase a mouth’s acidity which can expose it to periodontal disease, I thought that one way to decrease one’s chances of getting this disease is to get regular checkups with a dentist. That way, the dentist can prescribe a better diet to lower a mouth’s acidity while solving other issues such as misaligned or missing teeth.