The human body is an incredible machine designed to repair and protect from the damages and threats posed to you every day. Tooth decay and oral health are no different, and our bodies are specifically designed to neutralize and repair our mouths when given the right tools.
Dental cavities and tooth decay occur for a number of reasons, but the most common culprit is a poor diet. Your choice in oral hygiene products is less important than the quality of your diet, the nutrients from which are the tools your body needs to start repairing. Another factor is hormonal imbalance, and an important point for women who experience many periods of hormone fluctuation that can negatively impact their oral health.
These are the top five easy ways to naturally prevent and even repair tooth decay.
1. Vitamin and Mineral Rich Diet
While we should all be striving for a healthy diet rich in nutrients, it is essential for good oral health. Vitamins A, D, E and K are especially important, and are regularly deficient in western diets. Calcium is also important, as the body saps calcium away from bones and teeth when it doesn’t have enough. Phosphorous is also necessary for tooth remineralization.
Ideal foods are those high in animal and "healthy" fat, like avocados, fish, and eggs, as well as plenty of vegetables. Raw dairy and organ meat is also highly recommended due to its exceptional nutritional content. Processed food is terrible for your oral as well as overall health, and can even be detrimental to the absorption of beneficial nutrients.
2. Hormonal Balance
Hormones affect oral health in a few ways. First, cortisol is a hormone which can flood the body in reaction to stress, and in doing so sap our bones and teeth of calcium. For better dental hygiene, it’s necessary to reduce the amount of stress you bear.
Women are also at risk during periods of raised progesterone levels, which increases their sensitivity to gum disease. There is little one can do about natural changes to the body, but some general tips to keep hormone levels balanced are to get plenty of rest, light exercise and to limit caffeine and alcohol ingestion.
3. Reducing Sugar and Phytic Acid
Sugars like those found in candy, refined grains and soda can stick around on your teeth in plague, feeding the bacteria that live there. The acidic byproduct of these bacteria will decalcify and demineralize your teeth from the inside out.
Grains, seeds and nuts contain damaging phytic acid, which inhibits mineral (specifically phosphorous and calcium) absorption. Reducing your consumption of phytic acid can greatly improve your body’s ability to retain nutrients.
4. Oil Pulling
This method has been used for thousands of years and is as easy as it is effective. Oil pulling safely detoxifies your mouth and leaves a protective layer throughout the day.
Coconut oil, ghee and olive oil are all appropriate for oil pulling. Hold a teaspoon of oil in your mouth for 20 minutes in the morning to remove even hidden bacteria from your teeth and gums. Do not swallow the oil, and brush your teeth after. This method has been said to reduce pain over time, but check out this dental emergency infographic if you’re experiencing any tooth pain.
5. Natural Toothpaste
Conventional toothpastes these days contain some harmful ingredients, for instance sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is a foaming agent which can be harmful and erosive to the skin, while glycerin blocks saliva from naturally remineralizing teeth. There are gentler, more natural alternatives to your typical fluoride toothpaste, including some you can make at home.
A simple mixture of sea salt and baking soda is a perfect start. Add 2/3 cup of baking soda to a teaspoon of sea salt, mixing in a few drops of peppermint extract to taste. Slowly add water until the texture is pasty. Congratulations, you just made your own safe and effective toothpaste!
These are just some of the ways you can improve your oral health. Diligence and a proper diet are essential to your success in preventing and healing cavities, and prevention is always better than cure. That said, if you have serious concerns don't hesitate to see your dentist.