How to Naturally Remineralize Teeth & Prevent Cavities
Before we go into how to remineralize the teeth, let’s answer the question:
What is a cavity?
A cavity (AKA dental carie) is a hole or erosion in the tooth that has been caused by bacterial decay.
When it comes to cavities, proactive prevention is always your best bet for a healthy smile. But, if a cavity does end up forming, you are not completely destined for fillings as a conventional dentist might lead you to believe. Definitely ask your dentist if the cavity is in the outer layer (enamel) of the tooth, or if it is in a deeper layer (dentin). If it is only in the enamel, there are steps that you can take to work towards remineralizing the area and avoiding dental work all together.
It is important to consider a variety of factors when putting together a remineralization protocol, including diet, lifestyle habits, and oral hygiene. Here are some easy tips that you can implement right away into your daily routine to promote strong teeth and good oral health:
- Avoid Refined Sugar & Carbohydrates: Unfortunately, the dentist was right about this one, sugar causes tooth decay. The reason is that sugar feeds bacteria, so bacteria thrive in a mouth that is chomping down on refined sugars and carbs. Sugar also stresses the adrenals and spikes cortisol, which causes cavities as we will learn below…
-Yoga & Meditation: Little known fact, stress is a major factor for tooth decay and the formation of cavities. When you are stressed or in a sympathetic state, the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis stimulates the adrenals to release cortisol.¹ Chronically elevated cortisol levels will suppress the immune system, leading to greater incidence of infection in the body (including the mouth). This is why it is so important to take the time every day to relax, breathe deeply, and get yourself into a parasympathetic state. Find your bliss.
- Sun Exposure: The sun is your friend! We have thousands of Vitamin D Receptors (VDRs) in our skin cells that actively produce Vitamin D when exposed to ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Precisely, 7-dehydrocholesterol is converted to previtamin D₃ when exposed to sunlight in a process called “photolysis” which takes place in the epidermis.² Vitamin D is important for bone health because it increases the absorption of calcium in the gut, and acts in a negative feedback loop to tell the parathyroid to halt the production of parathyroid hormone (PTH) and stop pulling calcium from the bones. The recommended dose of sunlight for optimal Vitamin D production is 20-30 mins on bare skin (no sunscreen!) at least 3 times a week.
- Eat Healthy Fats: You must be eating a variety of healthy fats in order to absorb and assimilate fat-soluble Vitamins A, D, E, & K. For bone (and teeth!) health specifically, Vitamin D & K2 (menaquinones) are critical players and work synergistically to guide calcium into bones.³ While we learned above in the section on sun exposure that Vitamin D increases absorption of calcium into the body, Vitamin K2 ensures that the calcium gets deposited into the correct places.⁴ This means that Vitamin K2 directs calcium from the blood into bones instead of letting it deposit into other tissues such as kidneys, tendons, or blood vessels, therefore preventing osteoporosis (weak and brittle bones due to loss of bone density), kidney stones, bone spurs, and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries due to calcium accumulation).
Foods natural high in Vitamin K2 are organ meats, egg yolks, and dairy products, so vegetarians and vegans are usually deficient in this vital nutrient. One caveat is that these foods must come from pasture-raised and grass-fed animals, animals that are conventionally raised and fed grains and soy will not get Vitamin K1 from grass (their biologically appropriate food) which they would convert to Vitamin K2 in their gut (beneficial flora in the digestive tract convert Vitamin K1àK2), therefore the meat, eggs, and milk from these animals will not contain Vitamin K2. ⁵
- Gut Health: You must have good digestion and gut health to be able to breakdown and fully assimilate the nutrients from food. Many people have hypochlorhydria (low hydrochloric acid secretion in gastric juices), which severely impairs the stomachs ability to properly digest food, therefore impairing our ability to absorb minerals. Without minerals, our teeth become weak and susceptible to decay. One way you can increase your stomach acid secretions naturally is by drinking lemon or apple cider vinegar in water before eating. There are also HCl (hydrochloric acid) supplements that you can take with each meal to help with digestion; just make sure you are using a high-quality supplement company and work with a knowledgeable practitioner to help find the optimal dosage for your individual needs.
- Proper Oral Health Routine: Brushing and flossing twice a day is paramount for remineralization!
Flossing helps to prevent plaque and bad bacteria buildup around the teeth, which could cause further decay of the cavity. It is also extremely important what products you are choosing to brush with. For example, most toothpastes have vegetable glycerin on the ingredients panel. Vegetable glycerin is a big no-no if you are working to remineralize, as it puts a coating or film on the teeth that actually PREVENTS remineralization and strengthening of the enamel. We recommend brushing with a tooth powder that has calcium bentonite clay, which puts calcium and other minerals in direct contact with the teeth. Another great addition to your oral care routine would a using a tongue scraper. Tongue scrapers remove the film of bacteria from the surface of the tongue, which increases overall cleanliness of the mouth and preventing tooth decay. Copper is the most beneficial material for a tongue scraper as it is naturally antibacterial and therefore prevents bacterial growth in the mouth.⁶
When choosing a dentist, look for a biological or holistic dentist who preferably uses digital radiographs (less radiation than conventional X-rays). If you are contemplating getting any fillings removed, it is imperative that you go to a biological dentist who is fully trained to safely remove the mercury amalgams. The IAOMT (International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology) has a program called SMART (Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique) where they teach dentists this safe removal process. You can find a list of naturally-minded, SMART Certified dentists through: IAOMT.com