July 28, 2011: I sat in front of a monitor as the dentist showed me two dental cavities. They were in my wisdom teeth. On the screen I could clearly see each cavity.
April 23, 2015: A new dentist walked me through my x-rays. I asked him to focus on my wisdom teeth and tell me what he thought. On the monitor he brought up my wisdom teeth and told me they looked perfect. No cavities.
I never got those cavities filled. They healed.
Four years ago after the dentist told me about the two cavities, he said he could fill them or since they were wisdom teeth, he could remove them. Instead of listening to the dentist, I decided to run an experiment. I would try and heal my two cavities. Since the cavities were in my wisdom teeth, I had the freedom to fail. If the cavities got worse, I could just have the teeth removed. But I didn’t fail. The two cavities I had in 2011 are now gone.
Healing Dental Cavities
There are many blogs and YouTube videos out there that will tell you how to heal cavities. I’m not going to go there, because although I know my two cavities were healed, I do not know exactly how it happened. That would be speculation. I will say the number #1 change I made in the period between dental visits was a drastic increase in ice cream consumption. I went from having ice cream a few times a year to daily.
My first resource was Rami Nagel, author of Cure Tooth Decay: Heal and Prevent Cavities with Nutrition. He came to Seattle to speak to the local Weston A. Price Meetup group. For those unfamiliar with Weston A. Price, read my post The Endgame for Paleo is WAPF. WAPF is a branch of nutrition which picks up where Paleo leaves off. It not only focuses on quality food, but on food preparation techniques used by many traditional cultures over thousands of years.
Weston A. Price himself was a dentist who studied the dental health of many populations in the 1920s. His landmark book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration documents this journey. Even if you never read the book, just look at the pictures in the book (online). Traditional cultures had near perfect teeth and cavities were rare.
I took notes during Cure Tooth Decay presentation. Some ideas I walked away with:
- Consume foods and supplements that are high in the fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K). This comes from dairy, especially from grass fed sources. Supplements such as fermented cod liver oil and butter oil are recommended. Vitamin K2 is especially interesting, as it hadn’t been discovered at the time Dr. Price did his research. He theorized there was a nutrient that was important to dental health, which he referred to as Activator X. That turned out to be K2.
- Limit or eliminate grains. Grains by themselves aren’t necessarily bad, but we rarely use the traditional techniques of grain preparation such as soaking, sprouting and fermenting. One critique of modern grains is that because they do not use traditional preparation methods, then can have a demineralizing effect. Healing cavities begins with remineralization.
- Organ meats, such as beef liver, are loaded with nutrients that can assist with healing.
- Eat foods with saturated fat and cholesterol. Avoid industrial seed oils. This idea is gradually gaining support in the mainstream.
- Reduce nuts and seeds.
- Do not overcook your proteins.
- His opinion on sugar was mixed. He liked natural sources of sugar. However, since the goal is to increase fat soluble vitamins, he favors getting more calories from those fats.
This advice was easy for me to follow. I had already ditched the bread and was eating organ meats weekly at this point. I was also a big fan of dairy and had been increasing my intake fat soluble vitamins. I also started taking fermented cod liver oil.
This supplement is expensive and I tend to only go through one jar during the Seattle winters. Most of the time I get my fat soluble vitamins from full fat dairy. Cheese, kefir and increasingly ice cream.
In 2012 I started consuming ice cream on a regular basis. You can read the genesis of that decision in the post Why Ice Cream is Better than Protein Powder. Ice cream is a full fat dairy source with fat soluble vitamins, but it also has sugar. And I’ve been told since childhood that sugar causes cavities. So I was taught to minimize sugar consumption and brush my teeth frequently.
But if there is one thing I’ve learned in the last few years about nutrition it is that sugar is no where near as bad as people claim. It is not toxic. People looking for simple narratives to explain away everything from cancer to diabetes have jumped on the sugar is evil bandwagon. It isn’t true. But I’m getting off topic here. For more information read In Defense of Sugar: The Sweet Truth about the Diet Industry’s Latest Evil by Joey Lott.
Joey Lott wrote another book last year on improving dental health while eating sugar.
This book shares a lot in common with the nutritional advice I saw in presentation by Ramiel Nagel. There is some deviation on sugar and supplement advice.
Lott makes a case, for which I am sympathetic to, that metabolic health is important to dental health. If we undereat, we are undernourished. Being undernourished will make the task of healing your teeth difficult, so making an effort to increase metabolism can help the process. Lott lists out symptoms of lowered metabolism, such as reduced body temperature and sleep issues. These are topics well covered on this blog.
Going back to my story. They found the two cavities in 2011, but I hadn’t had dental X-Rays since 2008. What changed between 2008 and 2015? I ditched the grains for ice cream. So what did the ice cream provide for my dental health? An easily digestible source of fat soluble vitamins that increased my metabolism. Did the ice cream help heal my cavities? Maybe.