This is a follow up to my two previous posts where I shared my experience of healing tooth decay after a vegan diet and the dietary causes of tooth decay. Read those posts first as they give context and some of the scientific background to why tooth decay occurs. In this post I will focus on nutrition to heal tooth decay naturally. This is what I have learnt over the past year about how to heal tooth decay naturally with good nutrition.
My dental issues were caused by eating a vegan diet but this information applies to anyone experiencing tooth decay. Of course, whether you can heal tooth decay naturally depends on the cause and the severity. It is important to always work with a dentist when it comes to your oral health. In some cases, dental procedures are required and natural healing is not possible. However, these nutrition strategies for tooth healing can work alongside traditional dentistry.
If you don’t have tooth decay, this post will give you helpful strategies to prevent it and to keep your teeth healthy and strong. Solid nutrition also benefits your overall health and wellbeing so it is a win-win situation!
Nutrition to heal tooth decay naturally
Nutrients for healthy teeth and mineralisation
As I explained in my previous post, tooth decay and demineralisation can be caused by a lack or imbalance of minerals such as calcium and phosphorous in your diet. In addition, tooth decay can occur if you don’t consume adequate amounts of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. These nutrients help to form strong enamel layer to protect your teeth as well as good production of healthy, neutral pH saliva. This means that getting enough minerals and fat soluble vitamins is a key element of nutrition to heal tooth decay naturally.
The UK national dietary guidelines suggest for adults aged 19-64 we should be consuming a minimum of 700mg of calcium and 550mg of phosphorous per day. This includes calcium from either plant or animal sources. The recommended daily amount of vitamin A is 700mg (2300IU) for men and 600mg (2000IU) for women, for vitamin D it is 10mg (400IU). This can easily be achieved by following the Eat Well Plate and including a variety of foods in your daily diet. However, if you already are experiencing tooth demineralization or decay, these minimum intakes may not be adequate.
In his book Cure Tooth Decay, which is based on the work of Weston A. Price, Ramiel Nigel proposes the nutrient intakes below to support tooth repair and remineralization which are significantly higher than our dietary guidelines recommend!
Top foods for healing tooth decay
When it comes to nutrition to heal tooth decay naturally, you want to consume foods from several categories on a regular basis. These foods will support your overall health as well as producing healthy and strong teeth:
- Full or half fat dairy such as milk, cheese, yoghurt, butter
- Fish and sea food (especially small fish with bones such as sardines)
- Organ meats (including liver 1x per week)
- Bone marrow and broths or stews
- Variety of green vegetables (cooked or raw depending on tolerance)
- Moderate amount of cooked fruit and 1 glass orange juice per day
For additional support, you can also supplement with 1/2 tsp butter oil and 1/2 tsp cod liver oil daily which are both dense sources of fat soluble vitamins.
You can use a food tracking app such as Chronometer to get a rough idea of your daily nutrient intakes and where you could be falling short. As an example, to consume approximately 1.5g of calcium you could include:
1c fortified cereal, 1c milk, 1c yoghurt, 1/2c ricotta cheese, 1c broccoli, 1c cooked greens, 1tbsp tahini, 1tbsp blackstrap molasses and 1 portion steamed salmon
You can see it’s quite a lot! You could try this as a vegan but you would need to ensure you are eating several portions of fortified dairy alternatives per day. Also you would exchange the salmon with 1/2c tofu or a whole cup of beans.
Nutrition to heal tooth decay naturally: Blood sugar balancing
Another important element of healing tooth decay natural is balancing your blood sugar. This is because spikes in blood sugar disrupt the tooth remineralisation process. High levels of glucose in your saliva also creates acidic environment for bacteria to grow and plaque to form on your teeth. Oral issues such as gum disease, dry mouth and cavities are common in diabetes, a disease associated with unstable blood sugar.
To balance your blood sugar, eat meals and snacks containing all three macro-nutrients. Try to include a decent amount of fibre in your main meals. Fats, protein and fibre help to slow down the digestive process and rate of absorption of carbohydrates (glucose) into the blood stream. This prevents blood sugar spikes and crashes and maintains even energy levels as well as preventing mineral leaching from the teeth and bones. You can play around with the macro-nutrient ratios and see what supports a stable mood and energy levels for you.
A note on fruit!
Fruit contains fibre and has a lesser effect on blood sugar levels compared to processed carbohydrates and sweets. However, it is still a high glucose food and can lead to blood sugar spikes if consumed alone or in too high quantities. This is especially the case for dried fruits or juices. As there are so many health benefits from including fruit in your diet, I don’t recommend cutting it out completely unless your teeth are in a very serious condition.
Instead, I usually recommend to my clients to consume fruit as part of a meal. Or if eaten as a snack to combine with raw vegetables or protein/fat source such as cheese or nuts for better blood sugar balancing. It is also helpful to neutralise your mouth after eating sweet or acidic foods such as fruit by rinsing with water or salt water.
Nutrition to heal tooth decay naturally: Meal ideas
- Full fat yoghurt with stewed fruits and seeds
- Sardines on whole grain toast
- Porridge made with 2% milk and blackstrap molasses
- Smoothie with kefir, berries and 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- Meat and vegetable stew
- Green vegetable omelette cooked in butter
- Liver and onions with rice or potatoes
- Salad with olive oil dressing chickpeas
- Vegetable and tofu curry
- Roasted sweet potato with broccoli and tahini sauce
- 1 apple or 1c grapes with cheese
- 1c orange juice with 2 boiled eggs
- Fruit with 1c cucumber or celery
- 1c milk with 1tbsp blackstrap molasses
Can you heal your teeth on a vegan diet?
For anyone like me in the past who is currently following a vegan or plant-based diet, reading this can come as a shock. I know, I was there. I was convinced that a vegan diet was the healthiest and most sustainable way to eat and that animal products were toxic and should be avoided. Honestly, it took me several years, including studying for a degree in Public Health Nutrition and doing my own research and experimentation to realize that yes we can survive on a vegan diet but not everyone can thrive.
If you are suffering from tooth decay or demineralization on a vegan diet, take it as a sign that you are not getting everything that you need from your food. It’s very common to experience black and white thinking and feel like it is either fully vegan or nothing when in reality there is a spectrum. It is possible to follow a mostly plant-based diet and add in some of the above foods and meals to give your body a healthy dose of concentrated nutrition.
I really wasn’t thriving on a vegan diet so in the end it was not difficult to reintroduce animal products, once I had made the mental shift. I was expecting to struggle with digestive issues after not eating meat and dairy for so long but honestly, it felt like my body absorbed them right away. The first few meals with fish and cheese tasted amazing and the craving that had been suppressed for so long (making me feel like I didn’t miss or need animal products) finally resurfaced. I started to have more energy and mental clarity and just feel more like myself which was not something I thought could be impacted by the diet.
I did introduce things gradually over a period of two years and for a long time my diet was mostly plant-based. Even now I eat a lot of plant-based foods but I would consider myself a true omnivore and I make sure to eat at least dairy every single day!
Vegan nutrition for healing tooth decay naturally
I really didn’t start to see improvements in my teeth until I went all in and consumed dairy every day and ate meat and fish more regularly. But anyone who is committed to remaining vegan, here are some vegan nutrition tips for healing your teeth.
Something which helped prevent further deterioration of my teeth was cutting back on some of the foods which I thought were contributing to my dental problems. This included foods that I ate on a regular basis such as oats, dried fruit and acidic fruits. Dried fruits are high in sugar and can leave a sticky residue on your teeth which bacteria love. Oats contain phytic acid which can disrupt mineral absorption. Now I have added them back in without seeing any reversal of the progress with my teeth but in the beginning it was necessary to keep them to a minimum.
It’s also important to include plenty of plant-based calcium sources such as tofu, tahini, blackstrap molasses and green vegetables. Pair them with plenty of plant fats to help with absorption of nutrients. Avoid restrictive diets or cleanses and really focus on eating balanced meals which support blood sugar stability. Consider taking a vegan calcium supplement but always consult with your doctor first as with any medication.
The most important thing overall is to listen to your body rather than your mind when it comes to making food choices. Our bodies are extremely intelligent and know what they need to remain healthy and balanced. We just need to remember how to listen!
Over to you…
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