How to Keep Your Mouth Healthy & Whole
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Mind     Body     Mouth

Issue #2, March 2016

No-Drill Cavity Treatment – No Fairy Tale!

Once upon a time, if you had a cavity, a dentist would just drill and fill – usually with mercury amalgam. Dentists would call it “silver,” but that couldn’t whitewash the fact that a potent neurotoxin was being placed in the mouth, mere inches from the brain.

Not cool. Not good.

These days, there are more and better options for attending to decay-damaged teeth, especially if that decay is caught in the early stages. In fact, sometimes, we can help your tooth heal without doing any drilling at all.

For instance, ozone can keep decay from breaking through the enamel into the softer dentin within. This super-charged oxygen is a powerful disinfectant. Ozone plus rigorous home hygiene and a diet that supports natural tooth remineralization (see below) can be enough to nip early decay in the bud.

If the decay is more advanced, a new alternative called ICON can help. We just cover the decayed area with a mild acid to open up pores and clear out the decay. Then we fill the pores with a clear resin. The decay is no longer able to progress. No drill required.

ICONEven better: With ICON, there’s no margin between the tooth and restoration, so there’s less opportunity for leaks. Where standard fillings need to be replaced every 7 to 10 years due to leaky seals that let bacteria get back into the tooth, ICON restorations may not need to be.

And when a traditional filling is needed? We use fluoride-free, BPA-free composite. This safer, nontoxic alternative to amalgam requires less drilling, as well. We can conserve a lot more natural tooth structure, so your teeth stay strong. And so do the fillings. The durability of current materials is impressive.

Of course, your best option for dealing with decay is to avoid getting it at all. And that’s what the rest of this issue is all about…

How to Overwhelm Bad Bacteria & Bolster the Good

Our country is flooded with fluoride. Yet caries – tooth decay – remains the number one chronic, infectious disease among children. More than 90% of adults have had decay in their permanent teeth.

Ninety percent!

And still folks will claim – with a straight face – that fluoridation is a triumph in public health. The science says otherwise.

Nor does it do anything to address the actual cause of decay. It’s merely an attempt to limit dental damage, even as it’s been shown to do quite a lot of damage to the body as a whole.

S. mutansGoing after the cause means, above all, cutting out sugar and limiting consumption of all processed foods. These are the preferred foods of the pathogens – “bad bugs” – that cause caries and periodontal disease, mainly bacteria and fungi. Eliminate those foods, and you effectively starve the bad guys.

At the same time, you can glut them with something they hate: oxygen. One of the reason those bad bugs especially like hanging out between teeth and under your gums is that those are dark, damp, low-oxygen environments.

Here in the office, we can administer ozone – super-charged oxygen – through trays that cover your teeth. At home, you can use ozone oil. Rub it directly on your gums or add it to your toothpaste.

But getting rid of the bad guys is only half the equation. The other is replenishing the good microbes – the ones that help keep the bad guys in check while contributing to a host of metabolic functions.

Pharmax oral probioticOral probiotics are great for helping sustain a healthy oral environment. We recommend Pharmax. This excellent systemic probiotic supplement supports good immune health and increases nutrient absorption, while creating an unfavorable environment for bad bacteria.

Eating eating fermented and cultured foods likewise supports good gut and immune system health. And in terms of overall diet, you want to make sure you get plenty of vitamins A, D, E, K, and CoQ10, while consuming good fats and mostly alkaline-producing foods.

Here’s what else you can do at home to keep the bad guys in check and give the good guys every opportunity to thrive:

  1. Brush twice a day with a fluoride-free, alkaline toothpaste – one free from sodium lauryl sulfate, triclosan, microbeads, titanium dioxide, or any other chemicals you’d never think to eat. One of our favorites is Uncle Harry’s: great product, great price, and made locally! We also recommend using a Sonicare or other electric brush.

    Because conditions in your mouth are more acidic after you eat, always wait at least a half hour before brushing and swish with water or an alkaline rinse first to help neutralize acids. Make sure you brush all surfaces of your teeth – tops and sides. When you’re done, dip your brush head into 3% hydrogen peroxide and let dry.

  2. Use a Waterpik once or twice a day after brushing to clean between teeth and below the gum line – an area dental floss can’t really reach. You can also add pathogen-fighting compounds to the water: 5 – 6 drops of Providone Iodine or Lugols; sea salt; baking soda; or alkaline mouth rinse.

    If you like to floss, great! Keep doing it – after you clean with your Waterpik. Or don’t. Yes, flossing really is optional.

  3. Use an alkaline mouth rinse after meals to neutralize oral conditions. Conventional products don’t cut it. They tend toward acidic, draw minerals away from your teeth, and dry out tissues. We like Uncle Harrys Miracle Mouth Rinse, though you can easily make your own at home: water + 1 tsp. baking soda + 1 tsp. sea salt + 1 tsp. xylitol + herbs for taste (e.g., peppermint, licorice, oregano, et al).

  4. Brush your tongue or use a tongue scraper each time after you brush.

  5. Practice oil pulling daily. Place 1 – 2 teaspoons of organic coconut or sesame oil in your mouth and swish for 5 minutes. Then spit the oil into the trash.

Remineralization 101

The environment in your mouth plays a role in the integrity of your tooth enamel. When you lack certain nutrients, minerals are lost, weakening the teeth and priming them for decay.

But just as minerals can be pulled out of teeth, they can be pushed back in. You only need to create an environment in mouth and body that promotes this.

Saliva is a key player. It holds the minerals and buffering ability needed for remineralization and supporting good bacteria, helping keep teeth strong. It also keeps conditions less acidic, and that means less decay. Minerals – especially calcium and phosphorous – need an alkaline state.

(How’s your saliva’s buffering ability? Find out! Eat a raw almond and then check your saliva’s pH. If the strip indicates acid, your saliva’s buffering ability is weak. Alkaline means you have plenty of bicarbonate to neutralize acid production.)

Diet is the best way to keep your saliva more alkaline. Foods rich in calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, and vitamins A, E, D3, K, and CoQ10 provide key nutrients for remineralization. (See the article to the right.) Since these are fat soluble nutrients, taking them with good fats means better absorption.

When your saliva contains these minerals and vitamins, your teeth get what they need – provided you keep them clean. Otherwise, minerals have trouble getting to the decalcified areas.

But there are other health issues that can interfere with remineralization. For instance, gut problems can make it harder for your body to absorb nutrients. Sleep apnea and other causes of low oxygen have an acidic effect on the body – and teeth are among the first to react. As you address these, you can expect to see real oral health improvements.

Keep in mind, though, that remineralization is a process for healthy enamel. Once it’s lost – due to erosion or decay – it can’t be regrown. There are no cells in your body that can produce new enamel. Just another reason why you need to take good care of it now – addressing other risk factors, as well (e.g., dry mouth, clenching, malocclusion) – before any damage occurs.

Bottom line? You can remineralize your teeth. Just give your body what it needs.

Did You Know?

The average person produces about 25,000 quarts of saliva in their lifetime!

Though you hear people say that's enough to fill two swimming pools, they'd have to be pretty small pools. If we're talking a typical backyard pool, it would only fill it up about halfway.

That's still a lot of spit!

Hippocrates quote

Eat to Remineralize

We strongly recommend that all the produce you eat be organic and, preferably, local. All animal products should come from pastured animals raised organically and humanely.

Tooth structure is mostly calcium, making it critical to remineralization. Good Sources: raw dairy (Sea Breeze Farms on Vashon is a great source), rhubarb, spinach, kale, white beans, pinto beans, red beans, broccoli.

A major structural component in bones and teeth, phosphorous works with calcium to ensure their strength. Good Foods: wild salmon, raw milk yogurt (try making your own!), raw milk, halibut, lentils, beef, turkey, chicken, raw almonds, raw mozzarella.

Magnesium ensures active transport of calcium across cell membranes. Yet because of soil depletion, the nutrient is harder to get enough of from diet alone. Supplementation is a good idea. We like Complete Ascentials™ Magnesium, which is almost 100% absorbed. Good Foods: oat bran, brown rice, spinach, almonds, Swiss chard, lima beans, blackstrap molasses, peanuts, okra, hazelnuts, raw milk, bananas.

Vitamin A
In plants, this antioxidant comes in forms like beta-carotene. Yet only a tiny amount is converted and absorbed as vitamin A. If you get all of your vitamin A from this source, you need to take more. Look for A supplements derived from fish liver oil or Palmitate. Good Foods: carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, spinach, kale and other dark leafy greens, beef, winter squash, milk, herring, mangos, black-eyed peas, cantelope.

Vitamin D3
D3 maintains normal calcium metabolism. Our bodies can synthesize it when exposed to sunlight, but you can also get some through diet. For proper absorption, it needs to be taken with vitamin K2. Here in the Northwest, most of us are low in this nutrient. Have your doctor test to see if you might benefit from taking a supplement like our favorite, Biotics Research Bio-D-Mulsion Forte. Good Foods: pink salmon, sardines, mackerel, fermented fish liver oils.

Vitamin E
Another antioxidant and immune system booster, E supports tissue repair and works with trace minerals to remove metabolic waste from the body. Good Foods: dark leafy greens, raw almonds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, peanuts, broccoli, kiwi.

Vitamin K
Critical to the calcium binding function of proteins, K occurs in two forms: K1, synthesized by plants, and K2, found in fish, meat and natto. Since animals synthesize K2 from the K1 in grass, it’s essential to get pastured or grass-fed products. Good Foods for K1: kale, Swiss chard, parsley, spinach, watercress, green leaf lettuce, cooked broccoli. Good Foods for K2: fish, organ meat (liver), chicken, beef, pork, cheese, eggs, butter, fermented vegetables, annatto miso.

This fat-soluble, vitamin-like coenzyme is involved in cellular respiration and generating energy. Good Foods: beef, herring, chicken, rainbow trout, peanuts, sesame seeds, pistachios, broccoli, cauliflower, oranges, strawberries, eggs.

Image by Sinscience, Wikimedia Commons

Next month: We dig deeper into acid-alkaline balance, gut health, and more!
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