A short time ago I was asked a question about teeth. Raw vegans and teeth is a high-traffic topic, so I’m sharing the answer with everyone. I shortly talked about teeth here and there but didn’t go too deep into this.
All right, so, Pete is wondering:
The fruitarian athletes I have met at vegan conferences had teeth rotting issues. Do you do anything special to maintain oral health on your diet?
Here is my response to Pete:
That’s a very relevant question – thank you for asking.
Yes, it’s very likely that those fruitarians you saw, unless they did something about it, many of them had bad teeth.
And yes, I do approach my teeth with special attention.
Teeth I think is the hugest problem on this diet. While virtually everything gets better, teeth in many raw vegans, and especially fruitarians, get worse. Which is ironic and scares the determination out of you. Personally, my dental health started to go downhill after about a year on the diet. I started to have twice as many cavities including the ones along the gumline (which I never had before). And also had one root canal done. That was far from fun. You don’t want to go through this. Besides financial burden, when you fill cavities, you are ruining the original structure of your teeth forever, and putting harmful synthetic material in your mouth. Yes, there are holistic dentists out there but their prices touch the ceiling…
I have been looking into this for a few years now. According to my reading, there are more than a few causes of cavities. Some play a larger role than others. If you are on the raw vegan diet, or any other plant-based diet, they happen more frequently than in non-vegans because of the following:
1. Too much phytic acid. If you are not sure what that is, I talk about it here
2. Lack of fat soluble vitamins: D, A and K2 (Dr. Price refers to K2 as Activator X)
3. Frequent snacking
4. Too many sweet foods
5. Too many acidic foods, especially citrus fruits
6. Inadequate dental hygiene
Make sure you fully address the first two – phytic acid and the nutrients – they are an underlying cause of cavities, tooth sensitivity, and gum recession. Others are important as well, however there are more superficial causes (sugary foods have an internal effect as well)
How to prevent cavities and the like
If you want to prevent cavities and keep your teeth sparkly and fresh, discipline and regularity are your best buddies. I’ll tell you how I go about it. Specifically, how I deal with the above six causes. Bear in mind that I might be wrong in some things.
1. I ferment ALL grains, and sprout or soak ALL nuts and seeds. These are seed foods, many of which have extreme amounts of phytic acid. Here I describe in steps how to ferment, sprout and soak
2. I take raw butter oil & fermented cod liver oil blend every day. Together with the powdered eggshells. The oils contain vitamins D, A and K2. As well as essential fatty acids: omega 3, 6, 7 and 9!
At least 0.5 of teaspoon per day is what I usually have.
While the eggshells provide you with enamel and dentin-building minerals: calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, strontium and others. Read more about eggshell powder.
The oil blend is manufactured by Green Pastures.
Their cows graze on rapidly-growing grass which gives the butter oil its intense yellow color.
You can also take their fermented skate liver oil instead of the cod liver oil. Bear in mind that it’s better to take it at the same time as the butter oil. The oils work better in synergy.
This particular Green Pastures product that I take is a blend of both, liver oil and butter oil, which is handy. Although Green Pastures do carry butter oil and cod liver oil separately. Not all natural health shops have Green Pastures products but their popularity is increasing.
One last suggestion: you can also replace butter oil with a raw quality butter but you would need to take more of it.
However, if you live in Canada, you won’t find raw butter in stores. Why? Raw dairy products are illegal in this country (which shoots you with many questions). Note: the difference between raw dairy products and pasteurized ones is like day and night!
3. I eat foods high in resistant starch every day. This specific type of starch regulates your blood sugar, controls appetite and thus helps you control hunger. This, in turn, prevents you from frequent snacking. Yet, I think I still snack more than before going raw vegan – need to improve myself here. Anyways, I like fermented rye, teff. They are very high in resistant starch. In addition, green bananas and green plantains, which I enjoy as well. They are convenient because you don’t need to ferment them. Finally, you may want to know how to make a raw bread rich in resistant starch
4. Similar as #3. Foods high in resistant starch, and to some extent soluble fiber, keep your appetite at bay. Hence, you are less likely to grab fast-energy, high-glucose foods like figs, dates, raisins, honey, etc. Can you imagine that in the first year of being on this diet I sometimes could eat 200 ml of honey in one single day! Mind-gobbling, madness. Tropical forest honey was my favorite. But I’m done with the madness, at least this one. Also, fermented foods, in general, curb the sweet tooth. You can also ferment majority of veggies. The well-known sauerkraut and kimchi are excellent. In addition, bitter foods are known to reduce sugar cravings. For example, dandelion roots and greens, grapefruit/orange/lemon peels (make sure these are organic)
*** Another great thing about raw fermented foods is the following. Like raw grass-fed butter, they contain vitamin K2 (thanks to bacteria responsible for the fermentation process). These are vegan sources of the vitamin! The role of vitamin K2 is to “tell” calcium where it needs to go. Hence, it’s better to consume K2 foods with some calcium source. Eggshell powder, for example, is full of bioavailable calcium. On top of that, eggshells have been shown to remineralize tooth decay on the early stages!
5. I eat citrus fruits once in a while. If you like to have them on the daily basis, rinse your mouth with baking soda water to stabilize pH. Another option is, if you drinking their juice, drink it through a straw – this way there is minimal contact with teeth. Besides citruses, pineapples, cranberries, tomatoes, kiwis, berries are also acidic. By the way, fermented foods are also quite acidic, so rinse your mouth after them as well
6. Whenever I have a chance, I rinse my mouth with salt & baking soda water after each meal to flush the bacteria and neutralize pH. Plus, every evening I thoroughly clean the teeth for the night. This is the time when the larger part of remineralization occurs. The procedure is pretty tedious but there is little choice:
- First I floss
- Then I use Waterpik, an oral irrigator (left)
- Then I brush with eggshell powder. Read the reasoning behind why I think it’s more or less optimal for brushing teeth
- Then I rinse with salt & baking soda water
And don’t forget to scrub your tongue with a toothbrush. It’s a night club of caries-causing bacteria. They chill there after long hours of work.
As of now, that’s what I do to keep teeth healthy.
I would say I’m almost perfect with the first two. And I need to be more diligent with the rest. I get lazy with rinsing too. And I think I snack too often. In short, lots of room for improvement. Anyways. Are there any results? Yes, some. Sensitivity is gone, whiter teeth. Since starting on this regime, roughly 10 months ago, I don’t see any new cavities popping up. Will see what happens next.
Phytic acid, raw liver oil & raw butter: if you want to know more
If you want a detailed explanation of why you would want to stay away from phytic acid as much as possible, and eat raw liver oil and butter oil even if you consider yourself a strict vegan, read the book by Ramiel Nagel, Cure Tooth Decay. And actually, these two measures, along with some other things, make it possible to reverse cavities. However, don’t start jumping in excitement. It’s not that easy. You need to adhere to all criteria he describes there, and it takes time. The book is nearly 200 pages but written in an engaging, easy-to-get manner. Who made him write the book? His daughter. In the first year of life she started to have cavities one after another. Ramiel was a kind enough parent and didn’t feel like subjecting an infant to that monstrous dental drill. So, he started to search for natural ways to fix her little bad-behaved teeth. And that’s how the book was born. It’s available on Amazon in several formats including e-book. Also, explore Ramiel’s website: www.curetoothdecay.com. It’s filled with loads of useful info on how to keep your teeth in peak condition and greatly reduce the number of “hellos” to your dentist or maybe even forget about the dentist once and for all.
Ramiel’s work is heavily based on the research done by Dr.Weston A. Price. The 19th century-born dentist. This out-of-the-box thinking dentist spent a decade traveling with his wife studying the diets of isolated populations around the world. He wanted to know what helped these people maintain their teeth 95% of the time caries-free. And of course he found the answers he was seeking for. Also, visit the virtual Weston A. Price Foundation – a great place to hang out once in a while.
I wish you luck! If anything is unclear, make me aware.
That’s my answer to Pete.
Of course, prevention comes with a fewer headaches than the treatment itself. So, save your nerves and start early. One by one make the above suggestions, and others your hear about a part of your vegan life. Don’t wait until teeth issues come knocking on your door!
Do you do something different to keep your teeth pearly naturally? Please share so that others (me including) could never stop smiling just because our teeth is less than we want them to be 🙂
Ramiel Nagel. Cure Tooth Decay. 2011 (e-book)