Your natural guide to clean teeth
Supermarket shelves are littered with sugary toothpastes and brightly coloured mouth rinses that look and feel counterintuitive to what you’d imagine is healthy for your teeth. It’s interesting that with this litany of tooth care products and fluoride in our drinking water, there is more tooth decay than ever before.
Dental surgeon and founder of Bio Compatible Dentistry in Sydney, Robert Gammal says, “For your teeth to be protected from decay, there needs to be a good flow of the natural protective fluid from the inside of the tooth, travelling to the outside of the tooth." The culprits that reverse or reduce this flow, says Gammal, are refined foods, especially sugar and flour. He says decay is a systemic disease rather than a topical one, so what you put on your teeth is not as important as what goes into your body.
Fluorine, touted as the “tooth mineral”, is entirely different from chemically produced sodium fluoride, which is found in our water supply. Fluorine, which is found naturally in foods like goats milk, seaweed, rye, rice, parsley, avocados, cabbage, black-eyed peas, juniper berries, licorice, lemongrass and bancha tea twigs, protects the body from the invasion and growth of germs and viruses. The combination of organic calcium and fluorine together strengthens the teeth and helps prevent decay.
Sodium fluoride is a toxic by-product of the aluminium industry. It inhibits proper function of the thyroid gland as well as enzyme systems, and damages the immune system. It is also responsible for an increase in tooth decay. The most comprehensive US review, carried out by the National Institute of Dental Research, found that nine fluoridated cities had 10 per cent more decay than nine equivalent non-fluoridated cities. As a result of research in Europe, sodium fluoride treatment of water is now illegal in Sweden, Denmark, Holland and, most recently, Switzerland.
In the 1930s, US dentist Dr Weston A Price, known as the Charles Darwin of nutrition, travelled the world, studying isolated primitive communities untouched by modernisation. He found that although they didn’t brush their teeth, they had beautiful smiles and strong, straight and healthy teeth, and were free from decay. These peoples ate traditional diets rich in seafood, vegetables, grains and organ meats. Children born to these native cultures sported wide, handsome faces, with plenty of room for dental arches. Price found that the modernised children born to parents who had moved away from their communities and abandoned their traditional diets for refined and adulterated foods, had narrowed faces, crowded teeth and a reduced immunity to disease. As he travelled, his findings led him to the belief that dental caries and deformed dental arches resulting in crowded, crooked teeth were a sign of physical degeneration, resulting from nutritional deficiencies.
What is needed for healthy teeth?
When Dr Price analysed the foods consumed by isolated cultures, he found that compared with modern diets, they provided at least four times the water-soluble vitamins, calcium and other minerals and at least ten times the fat-soluble vitamins A and D, nutrients readily available from animal foods such as butter, fish, eggs, shellfish and organ meats.
Foods rich in calcium include the sea vegetables hijiki, wakame, kelp, arame, kombu and nori, as well as wheat grass, sardines, agar-agar, almonds, amaranth grain, hazelnuts and parsley. Most green plants are good sources of chlorophyll, phosphorus and vitamins A and C, important cofactors for calcium absorption. The other nutrients vital for efficient calcium metabolism are vitamin D and magnesium. Chlorophyll itself is very helpful in the prevention of tooth decay and gum infection when used as a tooth powder or mouth rinse. Micro-algae are rich in chlorophyll. A diet rich in vitamin C and silicon is also essential for healthy teeth. Studies show that vitamin C can help reduce plaque build up.
Good bacteria in the mouth prevent other, harmful mouth bacteria from sticking to and attacking the teeth so it’s a good idea to eat lots of cultured foods like live organic yoghurt, kefir (a fermented milk drink) and lacto-fermented vegetables. Dilute one teaspoon of probiotic powder in water and swish it around your mouth to help prevent plaque build up.
People with tooth decay should avoid vegetables high in oxalic acid or solanine (nightshades) as these inhibit calcium metabolism. Other calcium inhibitors are refined sugar, alcohol, cigarettes and coffee. According to Gammal, cleaning the teeth is simply a matter of removing plaque from the surface. The best way to do this, he says, is by rubbing it off with a toothbrush. “Certain ingredients like bicarbonate soda can be of assistance in neutralising plaque acids and removing plaque,” he adds.
To strengthen and whiten teeth and gums and help remove tartar, cut a strawberry in half and rub it on the gums and teeth. Sage leaves also work well.
Brightening Spearmint Tooth Powder
¼ cup Bicarbonate of soda
¼ cup white clay
2 tsp very fine sea salt
4 drops spearmint essential oil
1 tsp stevia (natural sweetener; studies show it may help prevent decay)
Mix the soda and clay together. Add the drops of essential oils and mix through thoroughly. Sieve to remove any wet lumps. To use: mix a little powder with water. Dip your toothbrush in. Do not swallow. Spit out and rinse. Do not exceed the amount of essential oil.
Caution: essential oils should be kept out of reach of children.
Carla Oates is a natural beauty expert and the author of Feeding Your Skin (Lantern Books).