Imagine you’re watching Family Feud, and Steve Harvey asks, “What place is everyone told they have to go, but almost everyone hates.” What would you say?
I’d bet a lot of money that “the dentist” is number one on that list.
We’re told we need to brush twice a day, go to the dentist twice a year, and floss often– but even when we follow the rules, we still end up getting cavities, root canals, extractions, and other procedures. So what are we doing wrong?
Similar to Western medicine, Western dentistry treats symptoms and instead of root causes. This is inherently wrong for many reasons, but I’ll start with this: your teeth are alive! They’re not just some dead bones there just to chomp down on food, so we shouldn’t treat them like that!
Like other living things in our bodies, our teeth react to internal factors like trauma, bacteria, and nutrition. They are connected to every gland and organ via the bloodstream. That means that any infection or problem in the mouth affects our whole body health. But here’s the good news, teeth can regenerate and heal (even become whiter) without crazy trips to the dentist or promises of toxic products–and all it takes is a little understanding of natural dental care.
Today, we’re giving you a guide to practical holistic oral care strategies for at home dental care that can help build healthier gums, saliva, enamel, and teeth!
But before we jump into the easy tips, we’ve got to learn some mind-blowing info about teeth!
The Tooth’s Internal Lymph-Like Fluid
So we already know that teeth are alive and that they are internally active. But what exactly goes on in there? In the late 1950s, Dr. Ralph Steinman had a theory that teeth have an internal lymph-like fluid that acts as a mechanism against cavities.
He came up with a method to see dental fluid in rats by turning it fluorescent with dye. By injecting the dye marker into rats’ stomachs, he found that within six minutes, that dye appeared in the tooth’s inner-pup chamber, and within an hour, it was visible in the enamel. His theory was correct!
He discovered a constant flow of fluid in the teeth that begins in the intestinal area and flows upward and outward through our teeth! The dentinal fluid works to flush toxins, provide nutrients, and repel microbial biofilm. Basically, this fluid is a microscopic toothbrush working hard to prevent gum disease and tooth decay.
But what happens when this fluid is compromised? Well, the opposite happens. The fluid reverses and sucks acids, bacteria, and other microbes into the tooth, inflaming it and causing oxidative damage to the tooth, a.k.a decay!
Dr. Steinman discovered that the flow inside of our teeth is regulated by the parotid hormone from the parotid gland in our endocrine system. This means that anything that affects our endocrine system affects our teeth health and we know that anything that affects our teeth health affects our whole body health. Unfortunately, many things in today’s society damage our endocrine system: processed foods, chemicals in body care products, etc. So let’s talk a little bit about the effect processed foods have on our teeth.
Natural Dental Care: The Truth About Tooth Decay & Cavities
Tooth decay and cavities are not a result of sugar sitting on the surface.
Ok, not so fast— that doesn’t mean you can run to the spot where you store the leftover Halloween candy. While decay is not due to sugar touching the tooth surface, it is caused by sugar in the diet that depletes nutrients. It’s not just sugar though; it’s all processed foods. Unfortunately, we live in a society of ultra-processed food-like substances without any real nutritional value.
Dental Care Case Studies
In the 1920s, president of the American Dental Association, Dr. Weston A. Price, studied various cultures where people were still eating ancestral diets. Because these groups were not yet colonized by Europeans, they had not been exposed to white sugar, chemicals, and white bread. Dr. Price studied their facial structure, teeth, and jaws in addition to the jaws of skeletons. He found that before the 19th century, there was only approximately one cavity in 1,000 skulls (1). You won’t find anywhere close to that number these days.
What we know is that processed foods cause food decay because they throw the digestive system and endocrine system out of whack, disrupting the flow of nutrients to teeth. But what most of us don’t know is that tooth decay and cavities can be reversed with diet! The British Medical Journal published a study that divided 62 children with cavities into three different diet groups. The first group ate a standard diet plus oatmeal with is rich in phatic acid. The second group also ate a standard diet and supplemented with vitamin D. Group 3 followed a grain-free diet and also supplemented with vitamin D.
What they discovered was that Group 1 who had a diet high in phatic acid and grains had an increase in cavities. Group 2 showed improvements in cavities with less increase. Group 3 showed the greatest improvement AND almost all cavities were healed! (2)
How cool is that?! We we’re previously told that tooth decay and cavities were irreversible! But in fact, they can totally heal with a little help from fruits, vegetables, and supplements. Now that’s some real natural dental care.
Diet Rules for a Healthy Mouth and Body
- Soak grains, beans, and nuts to remove phytic acid
- Eat fresh and whole foods only, grown in mineral-rich and organic soils
- Avoid or eliminate wheat
- Incorporate horsetail and nettles into your diet (try teas and smoothies)
- Get sufficient vitamin D3 through supplementation or sunshine
- Eliminate all PUFAs (polyunsaturated fatty acids: vegetable oils, corn, and soy) Opt for raw and organic pumpkin, chia, and hemp oils
- Take Vitamin K2, D3, A, Coenzyme Q10, Lypo-Spheric brand vitamin C, magnesium, silica, and phosphorus supplements
- Enjoy wild-caught fish
- Drink pure water
- Use botanicals and plant extracts to protect teeth
Essential Oils for Teeth Protection
Now, this is our wheelhouse. At Elevays, we are obsessed with essential oils. Their powerful versatility seems to never end, and it definitely doesn’t end with mouth health. Essential oils are a must-have for natural dental care.
Essential oils are naturally antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial. They eliminate unwanted microbes and improve the health of our mouth by increasing blood flow to the gums and blood vessels in the mouth as well as rejuvenating gum tissue. Whether you’re struggling with inflammation, unwelcomed harmful bacteria, or heavy viral loads, essential oils can help.
But here’s the thing, when purchasing essential oils for therapeutic use, you need to make sure you’re getting the right stuff. That means no Walmart purchases. You need to be purchasing from a company that you trust–A trusted company known for quality. The last thing our mouths need is some synthetic fragrances disrupting our hormones.
Nadine Artemis, author of Holistic Dental Care: the Complete Guide to Healthy Teeth and Gums, has a couple of botanicals that are her favorite for a healthy mouth.
- Cardamom for its antiseptic, anti-infective, and antibacterial properties
- Clove for its antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and antiparasitic properties to relieve toothaches, freshen breath, and help with infections
- Peppermint for its analgesic, cooling, and anti-inflammatory effects. Also, hello–who doesn’t love minty breath?!
- Tea Tree for its natural antiseptic, astringent, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties help reduce plaque and decrease gingivitis.
To learn more about the oils we love to use for at-home, natural dental care, go here.
3 Practical Steps for At-Home Natural Dental Care
Rinse with Salt
First thing is first! This step is so easy because almost everyone has salt in their house—if not everyone. Salt can help balance pH for an alkaline mouth, which is key for a healthy mouth. It also eliminates microbes. After you’ve eaten a highly acidic meal (tomatoes, lemons, etc.), neutralize acidity with a salt rinse immediately.
How to: Mix 1 ounce of salt with 16 ounces of hot, pure water (almost boiling). Have a shot glass close by and take a shot, and swish around and spit. Leave on the counter for everyday use.
Scrape the Tongue
Another step you should always take for natural dental care is scraping your tongue! The coating you see on your tongue is home to hundreds of microbes. For fresh breath and a healthier mouth, scrape in the morning and night. As you improve your diet, there will be less nasty stuff to scrape and sweeter breath!
How to: buy a tongue scraper at any health food store or use the edge of a spoon and scrape from back to front 2-3 times. Rinse with hot water in between scrapes.
The next step is to floss! Add essential oil to a non-toxic floss (most conventional flosses are made from plastic which means phthalates and we don’t need any hormone-disrupting chemicals near our teeth)
How to: coat the long strand of floss with essential oil and slide in between your teeth, up and down, and back and forth.
Are you ready to dive in to at home dental care? Get Nadine Artemis’ book, Holistic Dental Care, here. You’ll discover the truth about toothpaste, toothbrushes, and mouthwash, and get more in-depth information about the steps to successful dentistry and the benefits of botanicals and plant extracts.
- Artemis, Nadine. Holistic Dental Care: the Complete Guide to Healthy Teeth and Gums. North Atlantic Books, 2013.