Nothing says vibrancy and well-being like a beautiful, healthy smile. From the first adorable baby chompers to the many years of tooth fairy visits in between, by the time we reach adulthood, we all should have a mouthful of pearly whites.
Not only are teeth imperative for eating, chewing, and talking, but our mouth and teeth are a mirror to the health of the rest of our body—doing everything we can to keep our teeth healthy supports our health at its very core.
Brushing and flossing regularly and choosing natural dental products free of glycerine, antimicrobials, antibacterials, and artificial chemicals is a great start, but true dental and oral health begins from the inside out.
Primitive Diet for Healthy Teeth
Much of the information on diet and teeth comes from Dr. Weston A. Price (1870-1948), a Cleveland dentist who traveled around the world to find out why dental health was declining in modern society, even as dental hygiene practices were improving.
Studying isolated tribes and villages from Switzerland to Australia and beyond, Dr. Price confirmed his suspicions that nutritional deficiencies were the root problems behind the crowded, crooked teeth and impaired dental health he was seeing in his “modern” patients.
Primitive tribes eating nutrient-rich, whole, unprocessed foods enjoyed excellent dental and total-body health. With beautiful, straight, strong teeth and hearty bodies, their diets included a whopping four times the amount of minerals (such as calcium) and more than ten times the amount of fat-soluble vitamins than those of people living in modern society eating processed foods.
Unless you’re an anthropologist, infiltrating a primitive tribe halfway around the world to have access to a traditional diet probably isn’t an option. But, you can make sure you get plenty of nutrients to keep your teeth healthy, both today and for the decades to come.
Revamping the Modern Diet
Refined sugar, starch, and the phytic acid in grains can all lead to acidic conditions in the mouth, and eventual tooth demineralization as the acid wears down your enamel. Cutting back on your sugar and starch intake is a must for healthy teeth, but phytic acid may be your mouth’s worst enemy.
You see, just like animals, plants use defense mechanisms to ensure their survival. Plants like wheat and barley contain indigestible compounds (such as gluten and phytic acid) that allow their seeds to pass through animals and humans intact, ready to hit the ground fertilized and ready to grow. The problem is that they don’t pass through benignly—they steal as they go.
Phytic acid leaches minerals (especially calcium) from the body, causing widespread bone demineralization. A groundbreaking study in 1932 investigated children with poorly developed teeth who were prone to demineralization and other oral problems. After six months on a grain-free (and thus mostly phytic-acid free) diet combined with vitamin D and calcium supplementation, their teeth remineralized1.
If you aren’t ready to go completely grain free, consider soaking, sprouting, and fermenting—traditional cultures have relied on these methods for thousands of years to make hard-to-digest grains more digestible.
Once you minimize anti-nutrients (or take them out of your diet completely), you can focus on nutrient-rich foods that feed and strengthen your teeth and body.
Calcium, Phosphorus, & Zinc
Did you know that tooth enamel is the most mineralized and hardest substance in the entire body? Made up primarily of calcium and phosphorus, enamel acts as a barrier between the softer dentin and pulp on the inside of the tooth. When acids wear away at the enamel, demineralization occurs. Luckily, calcium and phosphorus can help to remineralize any vulnerable spots. Zinc is essential for hard teeth, and can even reduce and prevent enamel demineralization2.
In addition to daily vitamins, foods high in these minerals are:
• Calcium: Broccoli, kale, cabbage, tofu, and almonds
• Phosphorus: Pumpkin seeds, shellfish, brazil nuts, and lentils
• Zinc: Oysters, pumpkin seeds, red meat, crab, beans, and dairy
Vitamins D & K2
Fat-soluble vitamins, especially vitamins D and K2, are imperative for healthy teeth. Vitamin D increases the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, and vitamin K2 makes sure that calcium goes to the right place (teeth and bones) rather than where it shouldn’t (kidneys and arteries). Studies show that vitamin D deficiency is linked to teeth problems and enamel demineralization3.
In addition to daily supplements, good sources include:
• Vitamin D: Sun exposure, fatty fish (salmon, tuna), fish liver oil, and egg yolks
• Vitamin K2: natto (fermented soybeans), egg yolk, chicken liver, fermented vegetables (probiotics produce vitamin K2)
Indeed, your diet has a major impact on your teeth, but there may be more to the story.
Consider Your Oral Microbiome
As part of the trillions of microbes that make up your overarching human microbiome, the oral microbiome (including the mouth, throat, and nose) is home to more than 800 species of bacteria that have a dramatic effect on your dental and whole-body health.
You see, nearly one trillion bacteria every day make their way through your mouth, nose, and GI tract into your gut, where 80% of your immune system resides. Some of the bacteria stay and colonize in your oral microbiome and some travel straight to the intestine where they can impact your immune, digestive, metabolic, and even mental health.
Unfortunately, some harmful bacteria (like Streptococcus mutans) like to make their home in your oral microbiome by burrowing into the sticky biofilm on your teeth. Here they feed on dietary sugar to produce acids that demineralize and break down tooth enamel.
Fortunately, replenishing your system with probiotics—the beneficial microbes—can alter and strengthen your entire microbiome.
Probiotics for Strong Teeth
Within your mouth, probiotics work to crowd out the bad guys that cause the most common dental issues. And with enough good guys working on your behalf, the bad guys can’t gain a foothold. Some strains, like S. salivarius M18 and S. salivarius K12, even dissolve and loosen biofilm that can be home to S. mutans and other undesirable bacteria4.
Interestingly, the probiotics that settle in your gut can impact your dental health as well. You see, proper nutrient absorption and assimilation are crucial for healthy teeth. Even if you are eating a clean diet with the most nutritious foods, if you can’t absorb nutrients they aren’t doing you any good—and you may even be malnourished despite eating plenty of calories.
Probiotics in your gut help you break down and absorb nutrients from the food you eat, so you can utilize all the vitamins and minerals to remineralize and reinforce your teeth.
Taking both a dental and a whole-body probiotic can give you all the good guys that you need to keep your system in balance. Hyperbiotics PRO-Dental includes four targeted strains for oral health, as well as zinc for strong connective tissue, teeth, and bones. PRO-15 delivers 15 different strains of probiotics deep into your gut to maximize digestion, enhance immune function, improve metabolism, and even give you more energy!
Our teeth can—and should—last us a lifetime, as long as we give them everything they need to stand strong. Eating a primitive-like diet of whole, unprocessed foods rich in minerals and fat-soluble vitamins, combined with a healthy dose of daily probiotics, can give you plenty to smile about for many years to come.References:
Emily Courtney is a Writer and Editor at Hyperbiotics and mom to two fun and active boys. Emily is passionate about natural wellness and helping others learn about the power of probiotics for vibrant health! For more ideas on how you can benefit from the power of probiotics and live healthier days, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.