How I Healed My Own Cavities

It felt like the worst day of my life. I was trapped in the dentist chair, willing myself to breathe in that nauseating chemical smell permeating the atmosphere. How humiliating to have this dentist that I had never met before in my life informing me smugly that I had thirteen cavities that needed filling.

And on top of that disastrous news I had the dentist assistant appraising me with that saccharine sympathy that felt so condescending. I just kept wishing that the earth would swallow me whole, dentist chair and all, because I apparently didn’t know how to take care of my teeth properly. That’s how the dentist made me feel anyway. Well no wonder why I left that office in tears.

Yet I’m thankful now that I had that experience, horrendous as it was, because it sparked the desire to learn about the importance of a nutritious diet for the first time in my life.

You see, we were flat broke during those lean years surviving on my husband’s modest income, and I didn’t relish the idea of selling our second car to finance a mouthful of problems.

So I decided to research the causes of tooth decay because I shuddered at the idea of ever going through that degrading experience again. And that led me to attempt to cure my own cavities because, I’ll be honest, we didn’t have a couple of thousand dollars to throw down at the dentist’s office, with a foreclosed house we had just bought and a mountain of home repairs in our future.

So in my research I came across Weston A. Price, who was a dentist turned anthropologist who studied the diets of particular traditional cultures throughout the world in the 1930’s, which he summarized in his book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. In particular, he studied the traditional diets of the people living in the Swiss Alps, the Outer Hebrides (Coast of Scotland), and the Aborigines in Australia.

The diets of these different cultures, although with some variations, had one common denominator. They were all rich in fat soluble vitamins, calcium and phosphorus. What was even more remarkable was the vibrant dental health that these people experienced.

Price discovered the perfect diet for healthy teeth, and his findings are still in the American Dental Association journal of medicine. He stated that “tooth decay is not only unnecessary, but an indication of our divergence from nature’s fundamental laws of life and health.” In other words, you eat the proper diet, you get healthy teeth. He also went on to say that you can heal your own cavities through nutrition alone.

Now this seemed like news that should be shouted from the tallest rooftops, but I sure hadn’t heard of the ADA advocating this fact. According to them, cavities occur from the development of lactic acid on your teeth from eating sugar and high carb foods. The acid then sits on your teeth and turns into bacteria, which eventually causes soft tooth enamel that leads to tooth decay.

But the more I researched dental health, the more I realized that there was so much more to the story than the acid/bacteria theory that we all grew up with.

So when I found the book Cure Your Teeth, by Rami Nagel, I decided to get serious and try it out for myself. According to Nagel, whose research is based on the findings of Weston A. Price, vitamins A, D and K are essential to healing your teeth.

For instance, the folks in the Swiss Alps consisted on a daily diet of grass-fed raw milk, cheese, fermented bread, veggies, and beef stew made with organ meats. They made a soup with the animal tissue, cartilage and bones with lots of hearty vegetables that they ate on a regular basis.

If you put the soup through a strainer, you would have bone broth, and I’m sure you have heard all the hype these days about the benefits of bone broth, and there’s a good reason for that. Bone broth is loaded with vitamins, including, yes, you guessed it, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. I found it noteworthy that the Scottish people from the Outer Hebrides had a fish stew that they would make, which also provided similar vitamins and minerals for optimum bone health.

Seafood, particularly shellfish, also made it into the optimum daily diet for tooth healing, because it’s high in the all-important mineral phosphorus.

It’s also chock full of those mighty omega-3’s, plus the magical calcium-vitamin D- phosphorus combination that’s so important for healthy teeth. I felt like all I ever seemed to eat was sardines and salmon, and I sure was grateful to live in the Seattle area where salmon was so readily available!

The other wow factor that helped restore my teeth was raw milk, which is naturally high in fat soluble vitamins, including vitamin A and D. Now for those of you who are thinking what I used to think myself — you know who you are. Raw milk can KILL YOU! It’s dangerous, don’t ever drink it unless you want to DIE! Oh, the horror stories that the media has presented us about the insidious dangers of consuming raw milk, but you know what?

Pasteurization was never meant for milk that came from healthy grass-fed cows in the first place.

Let’s look at the history of pasteurization for a minute. When the United States was in the process of becoming an industrialized nation in the early nineteenth century, big dairy farms began cropping up all over the country. Illnesses related to the consumption of pathogenic milk was a huge problem in those days.

Ever heard of typhoid or scarlet fever? Well those diseases were virtually eradicated when pasteurization practices were put into place at the large scale factories.

Because of the deplorable sanitary conditions prevalent during that time in American history, the cows were too sick to produce healthy milk in the first place. So pasteurization was an absolute necessity ON THE BIG DAIRY FARMS to ensure the milk being distributed was not contaminated.

Now out in the sticks on the mom and pop farms, pasteurization was not such a big deal, as long as the farmers understood the importance of proper sanitary habits and they kept their cows healthy. After all, the quality of the milk is only as nutritious as the cow that produced the milk.

Now pasteurization certainly has its place in our modern society, and commercial milk must be pasteurized, even the organic kind. Because the milk producers know that the milk is going to be pasteurized, they don’t worry about all the blood and pus and the fecal matter that gets inevitably mixed into it all. Yeah you read that right. Makes my stomach turn over just conjuring up all the milky moments of my past.

The problem with pasteurization is that it kills the natural probiotics in the milk, causing it to spoil as it ages. Raw milk, on the other hand, doesn’t actually spoil, it sours, and there’s a big difference there.

It also destroys the enzymes needed for proper digestion, and that makes it very hard to absorb the calcium. The process used to heat the milk kills important minerals present in the milk, such as manganese, copper and iron. It also strips the milk of nearly all Vitamin C during the process, which is unfortunate because Vitamin C counter-effects the iron blocking properties of phytic acid.

Back in the old days, sweet milk was fresh straight from the cow, and soured milk was milk that was left to ferment, creating what we know as buttermilk. Raw milk doesn’t go rancid like the regular store bought stuff because the probiotic content has been kept intact.

And what the heck is phytic acid, you may be tempted to ask. Well, phytic acid, or phytate, is an anti-nutrient that is found in all grains, nuts, seeds, beans, bran, oatmeal and soy. But wait, you might say, didn’t the people from the Swiss Alps eat bread? Yes they did, but they consumed sourdough bread that they fermented themselves. I’m sure you have heard by now about the benefits of eating fermented foods these days as it tends to be a hot topic.

First off, fermented foods contain digestive enzymes that help you digest your food. This is a good thing, especially when your system is suffering from nutritional deficiencies, as those all-important enzymes help your body process and absorb the minerals you need for strong bones and healthy teeth.

Fermented foods also lower the phytic acid content because it creates acid that breaks down phytate, making it easier for your body to digest and increasing mineral absorption, as well. It also increases the probiotic content, making it an excellent healing food because it supports the immune system with its gut healing properties.

There is a fine art to preparing grains, and both seeds, nuts and beans need to be soaked properly before eating them, otherwise the phytic acid creates a blood sugar spike, which in turn leeches out essential minerals in the form of magnesium, copper, iron and manganese. Blood sugar spikes also create an imbalance between phosphorus and calcium, which are critical to bone health, and calcium gets pulled from either the teeth or bones with every spike.

However, there are two factors that do well with balancing those nasty sugar spikes. The first one is protein, which is good to eat a little bit with some fruit, for instance. And then there’s the all-important Vitamin D, and good sources can be found in seafood, Cod Liver Oil, and of course, raw milk. It’s really THE perfect “food” for tooth re-mineralization because it’s so high in those fat soluble A, D and C vitamins.

Now A and D have a synergistic effect in the body, so along with raw milk, Cod Liver Oil is vital for tooth healing, as it’s loaded with all those healing vitamins.

There has been some controversy in consuming Cod Liver Oil and you need to be super careful about which brand to buy. Avoid Cod Liver Oil that says it has been fermented because it’s naturally devoid of sugars and starches, which is vital for the fermentation process.

Cod Liver Oil can’t be fermented and I personally wouldn’t trust a brand that states otherwise. Also make sure that you have a high quality oil that has been batch tested for purity.

Because Cod Liver Oil is such a hot topic these days in holistic healthcare, if you do choose to go the Cod Liver route, it’s important that you do your research and find a brand that ensures the quality of the oil that you are purchasing.

CLO is miracle stuff because one teaspoon is equivalent to 5 ½ quarts of milk, 9 eggs (which are high in D, as well), or one pound of butter.

The other vitamin you need to heal your teeth is Vitamin K, otherwise known as Activator X, and Price talks at length about this critical and often missing vitamin in our modern day diet.

Activator X can be found in high vitamin butter oil, raw cream, ghee and fish eggs. The fat soluble vitamin A can be found in animal fats, especially liver. Now be careful not to confuse fat soluble sources of vitamin A and water soluble sources, which is found in leafy greens such as spinach, arugula and kale, just to name a few.

Now I’ll be honest — I just couldn’t do the whole liver thing. Call me a wimp or whatever you want, but I have this memory of being a little girl and my father forcing my sister and I to sit at the table until we ate all of our liver.

And you know what? I never did eat it, not after one bite anyway, and even attempting to eat it as an adult — and y’all I TRIED — it just brought me back to that helpless feeling I had as a kid sitting there alone for who knows how long, staring at my plate and cursing my imprisonment at the family table. I’m SO dramatic, aren’t I? So I took a liver supplement, which is totally doable, if not a bit more expensive, just make sure it’s sourced from grass-fed cows and free of harmful contaminants.

Aside from some major dietary changes I made to my diet, I also began a daily habit of oil pulling first thing in the morning and it’s something that I still keep up with to this day.

Oil pulling is an Ayurvedic practice, which is a holistic health-centered philosophy that dates back thousands of years and is still prevalent in India today.

Oil pulling is pretty amazing because the oil has a chelating effect, meaning that it binds with fat-soluble toxins that, if left in the mouth, can lead to dental problems down the road. It can also prevent gingivitis because it’s so effective at removing plaque, making it an excellent practice to add to your morning routine.

Basically you swish oil around in your mouth for about twenty minutes before you eat anything for the day, as certain oils are beneficial for cleaning the microbiome of the mouth, such as sunflower and sesame oil. I used plain old coconut oil that I would swish around for about twenty minutes in the morning.It’s an easy practice to implement, so go give your mouth an early morning workout, because the benefits of oil pulling are only just really being recognized by western modern medicine.

Now if you haven’t heard about the benefits of bentonite clay these days, you need to. This little miracle clay became my bathroom buddy while I was trying to heal my teeth, and I still use it to this day on a daily basis.

Bentonite clay is basically made from volcanic ash and it’s naturally high in magnesium, silica and calcium, all very helpful minerals that are useful in tooth re-mineralization. It removes unwanted toxins, including heavy metals, and it has an alkalizing effect, as well. It can even be taken internally, which I haven’t done yet, but I found it extremely useful as a natural toothpaste alternative.

I also became familiar with activated charcoal for the first time in my life, and I have found this little miracle stuff to be crucial in maintaining good dental hygiene. Like oil pulling, it has a negative charge that attracts toxins and prevents them from being absorbed into the body.

It also has the added benefit of being a natural tooth whitener in spite of its color. But beware — this stuff gets absolutely everywhere if you’re not careful and it can stain clothing and counter tops alike.If you’ve never brushed your teeth with activated charcoal before, don’t be alarmed by its inky appearance. It may look like something out of an alchemist’s lab, but it is completely tasteless and extremely beneficial for your overall oral health.

I promise it’s worth the extra hassle, as it has antimicrobial properties that can help prevent the growth of cavity-inducing bacteria. I admit it’s messy, but at least it’s tasteless and it didn’t require much effort on my part, so I personally felt that it was worth the extra effort.

I didn’t just brush my teeth with activated charcoal, though. A few times a week I would take a tea bad and dump out the contents, then fill it with a little bit of the charcoal and make a kind of poultice. I would then put this homemade poultice on one side of my mouth for about thirty minutes or so.

I know it sounds weird, but I was desperate to fix my teeth and I felt that this little practice worked even better than just using it on my toothbrush. And to make time go faster, I would just pop on Netflix and binge watch Stranger Things. That way I would forget all about having anything in my mouth as I was having the daylight scared out of me!

Another Ancient Ayurvedic practice involves the use of the Neem twig, which is a very potent herb used for a variety of health reasons, and it’s especially beneficial for oral hygiene because of its anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties.

You can purchase the neem twig, otherwise known as a neem brush, from Amazon these days, and it’s such an easy and efficient way to boost the health of your teeth. I made it a daily practice of “brushing” my teeth with this funny little tasteless twig for about five minutes at least once a day.

Now let’s talk essential oils.

The shining star of stellar oral hygiene is clove oil, which is a very powerful antifungal and anti-bacterial oil that has been proven to slow down tooth decay and aids in re-mineralizing teeth. I like to add a drop to my coconut oil when I do my oil pulling in the morning, just to give it that extra boost in my holistic oral hygiene regimen.

I also use peppermint oil on a daily basis. I make my own mouthwash in which I add about ten drops of peppermint oil to one cup of water and swish several times a day. It imparts a vibrant minty flavor and it’s a rejuvenating way to stimulate your senses if you’re feeling sluggish in the afternoons, but don’t underestimate the power of this mighty little leaf.

Peppermint is another anti-bacterial oil that can reduce bad bacteria in your mouth that can lead to cavities, plus it has anti-inflammatory qualities that reduce pain associated with oral infections.

The mint leaf is also alkaline, meaning that it counter-effects some of the negative effects that an acidic environment in the mouth can cause. It’s also high in magnesium, phosphorus and calcium, and we now know how important this dynamic trio of minerals is in the formation of healthy enamel.Along with my peppermint mouthwash, I also drank peppermint tea, which is not just beneficial for your mouth, but also aids in digestion, as well.

After about three months of making these major lifestyle changes, I got up the nerve and chose to see a holistic dentist to get the verdict on the situation in my mouth. Well, she filled one small cavity and the other twelve were nonexistent, much to my overwhelming relief.

So I stand behind the knowledge now that it is entirely possible to heal your own teeth, which I must say is a very empowering feeling. I stick as close as I can to the traditional diet that Weston A. Price found so illuminating in restoring oral health. Yes, it can be challenging, but I eat for my teeth about eighty percent of the time and I make sure that I leave a little wriggle room for popcorn night.

After all, it’s nice to have a little fun food distraction as I move into Season 3 of Stranger Things. But even though I’m on the edge of my seat this summer as I immerse myself in the little town of Hawkins, Indiana, at least I no longer have to fear the dentist chair anymore, and that means more to me than anything else in the world these days.

Just a writer in search of the proverbial magic carpet ride, one word at a time