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Don's Dental Issues Blog

This is an "opinion" section of my website, therefore you will find plenty of opinions here. I normally like to take the high road and not mention names, but not when doing so puts people's health at risk in some respect. I hope you'll take this into consideration as you read through these posts.

And please read the whole page from top to bottom if you want to get a thorough understanding of the dental issue as it relates to raw foodists.

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Jameth Sheridan on the high fruit diet

I'm not buying the late Jameth Sheridan's explanation that fruit sugar feeds mouth bacteria better than the sugar in candy ("because fruit sugar is live, it's vital, it has life force...") His answer to dental decay of "don't eat that much fruit" is not a credible answer to me. He's right when he says that fruit is low in minerals, implying that we should eat green leafies (although he doesn't state this, favoring his superfood products I guess). And to say that fruit eaters get transparent teeth is alarmist. I know people who eat a lot of fruit and they don't get transparent teeth. They eat a balanced diet of fruit and green leafies, they DO take a multi or green powder, and they do practice good dental hygiene.

And think about this: If you clench your teeth while sleeping, and you loosen teeth thus creating pockets, you will have less dental decay in those pockets if you eat a low sugar / higher fat+complex carb diet. But that doesn't mean that, if you do clench your teeth while sleeping, you should eat a low sugar diet to avoid decay... that is not the answer. If you look at your health "on balance", you'll continue to eat a high carb, fruit-based diet, but you will also address the clenching issue, which may mean wearing a "night guard" in your mouth to prevent creating those pockets. Keep in mind, it's not natural to clench your teeth while sleeping, so if you get cavities in any pockets that form, the blame rests not with the fruit, but with the creation of the pockets.

And his statement, "I've never met a long term fruitarian who was healthy or who didn't cheat" carries no weight with me. What if those long term high fruit eaters he met who were unhealthy weren't adhering to ALL the basics of health, and maybe weren't making/getting enough vitamin D (crucial for good bone health), or who felt that they needn't floss/brush because in Nature they wouldn't have flossed or brushed, or who weren't getting a proper "sugar:minerals ratio" (lots of fruit so lots of sugar but the green leafies weren't grown in the most nutrient dense soils; this is why I advocate supplementing with a green powder multinutrient adjunct to the diet).

So just as we shouldn't blame diabetes or candidiasis on fruit sugar, we shouldn't blame dental problems on fruit sugar either.

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The following is in response to the article at http://tinyurl.com/7jgvady entitled

Is Your Raw Vegan Diet Eroding Your Teeth?

No. It's NOT the diet per se. It would appear that the diet is to blame, but appearances can be deceiving. In this case, a healthy raw food diet is not the primary factor in worsening dental health.


Researchers aren’t sure why the difference. They noted that within the raw food group, they could find no significant correlation between nutrition or oral health data and the prevalence of erosions. Nevertheless, the results showed that raw food eaters were more at risk.

Researchers aren't asking the right questions or looking in the right places. "Nutrition" as it is used in the above statement, cannot just center on the nutrients found in food... there are other non-food nutrients that play a HUGE role in dental health. So it's not just about diet.


...we need more research to discover the answers.

No, we don't. We need to use some common sense and stop depending on research and studies as the only way to get an answer to a problem. And empirical evidence can be a great tool, but it too can be misinterpreted, as is the case with this issue.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture [says] "Research shows that dental erosion in adults due to diet is usually a result of excessive consumption of fruits and fruit juices."

The correct statement should be, "Research CAN show that dental erosion in adults due to diet is a result of excessive consumption of fruits and fruit juices." Statistics don't always reveal the real cause of a problem. As you will see, there are other, more primary, factors.


One thing to note is the high amounts of fruit eaten by the raw foodists.

Is this amount "high" compared to people who don't eat nearly enough fruit? Words like "high" and "low" are relative terms, and can add to the confusion rather than being a helpful descriptor. (For example, I don't eat a "low-fat" diet, I eat an appropriate fat diet. It happens to be low relative to the general population, but I feel that important terms – such as the name of a diet – should not be tied to what most others are eating.)


Frequent eating can disrupt the natural remineralization of your tooth enamel.

Some raw foodists who eat only three times a day get dental problems, so frequent eating is probably not a main causative factor. If you deal with the main ones, then frequent eating no longer poses a problem. And what's the definition of "frequent" anyway? I can certainly see non-stop eating disrupting enamel remineralization, but no one I know eats continuously. If you eat when you're hungry, and don't eat when you're not (and you don't overwork your body on a daily basis), your eating would not be considered "frequent", but instead, appropriate.


Can a raw food diet be stressful for your teeth?

A raw food diet can be stressful to individuals within those industries whose financial bottom lines would be severely impacted if more people would eat a much healthier diet. And it's nothing personal – just business – that they will do whatever they can do to prevent any lessening of corporate profits, which includes the dissemination of misleading information and disinformation, and influencing government to go after health educators who offer truly helpful information.


It's no secret that though fruits have a lot of health benefits, they can also be high in sugar and acidity – a double whammy for teeth.

Sugar does not cause dental erosion. Want proof? Get a tooth from a kid that just lost one, and place it in a glass of water that has had lots of table sugar added to it. Nothing happens to the tooth. Now place another tooth in a glass of diet soda, and watch the tooth get smaller and smaller over time. So what is sugar's connection to tooth decay if it's not directly responsible for eroding away enamel? The bacteria that live in your mouth have acidic metabolic byproducts. It is this acidic poop that damages tooth enamel. The more you feed that bacteria, and the more bacteria, the more poop, which is acidic. But it is possible to eat a diet that provides all the sugar/carbs that your body needs in a day without damaging your teeth in the process. If you have "weak" dental genetics (more on this in a moment), more sugar passing through your mouth will feed bacteria, and can put more of a strain on your enamel, but this doesn't mean that you should eat a diet high in fat so that the fat (which doesn't feed bacteria) can be turned into sugar inside your body away from your teeth. There are ways to "manage" your mouth bacteria so a mostly fruit diet won't damage your teeth. So let's stop blaming fruit and its sugar content, and look to the more relevant causes of tooth decay.


THE MORE PROBABLE CAUSES:

* Eating unripe fruit, which can be acidic; citrus fruit especially. So raw foodists need to learn when fruit is truly ripe, and to go easy on fruit that is naturally acidic if you have weak dental genetics. And don't brush after eating citrus fruit in case the fruit wasn't fully ripe (which means it will be more acidic to your teeth); you could wear away a thin layer of enamel that was softened by the "acid bath" of the less-than-ripe fruit. Better to rinse your mouth with water afterwards (the minerals in the water help to neutralize the acidic state).

* Fruit juices. Avoid them. Contrary to popular belief, they do more harm than good (a whole 'nuther article).

* Sticky fruit, like dates. Some people should definitely rinse their mouth after eating things like dates. Some people don't need to; more on this in a moment.

* Eating lots of nuts. When you begin chewing on something, that marvelous chemical lab in your mouth lets your brain know what it is, and the pH of your saliva is adjusted accordingly. The eating of nuts creates a lower pH environment in your mouth by virtue of a more acidic saliva. Bathing teeth in saliva that has a lower pH than it would if you were eating fruit is not good for the teeth, especially if you have weak dental genetics.

* Weak "dental genetics". If you've got 'em, it's vitally important to floss and dry brush and rinse your mouth with a diluted clove oil* or iodine "mouthwash" before going to bed, and rinse your mouth with water after eating sticky fruit like dates and after eating citrus fruits, and to make sure you're getting enough minerals; if the foods of your diet aren't supplying them because of the reasons in this video, use nutritional adjuncts to the diet. I'm not thrilled about having to take nutritional supplements, but I'm less thrilled about ill-health during my lifetime, and I know for absolutely sure that nutritionally sub-par fruits and veggies leads to mineral insufficiencies, and that's not good for teeth. Note: The process of remineralizing the enamel is done via the saliva; there is no blood supply to the enamel.

* Make sure you are not allergic to clove or clove oil before using this mixture. Try some of the mixture on your skin first.

So, as with diabetes and candidiasis, fruit is not the primary factor in worsening dental health; it is usually the absence of things that is the real culprit.

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The advantages of dry-brushing

I favor using only a dry brush (no toothpaste), and not using it as a brush, but as a tool (which is why I don't like calling it a toothbrush, and call it a toothtool). To keep the brush dry as you use it, either blot the brush on a paper towel, tap the saliva out on the basin or "suck" the saliva out of the bristles periodically (my preferred technique). To "blot" the groove between the teeth and gums, direct the bristles at a 45 degree angle beneath the gum tissue and wiggle the handle of the brush back and forth about ten seconds in each area. It's the mechanical action of the bristles that effectively loosens the sticky bacterial colonies in plaque, not the chemicals that most people put on the brush. Water and toothpaste clogs the spaces between the bristles of the brush that, if left dry, allow plaque to be lifted out of the gingival sulcus (that groove between the gums and the tooth) by capillary action. More importantly, practically all toothpastes contain glycerin which interferes with the body's natural ability to remineralize the surface of the teeth!!! And this is a contributing factor to cavities. And use a SOFT toothtool, and one that has its bristles designed with this type of use in mind (there are two mentioned below).

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Someone wrote me...

Why do many people have the experience [dental problems] mentioned here?
www.curetoothdecay.com/Tooth_Decay/tooth_cavity_vegan.htm

When people who eat a vegan diet develop dental problems, it's for a reason, and that reason is not because they stopped eating animal products. And I hope we're not going to entertain the notion that some humans have the DNA to be able to eat a plant-based diet and be perfectly healthy, while other humans don't have the DNA for it and require animal food to be optimally healthy, because this is simply not true. Every animal on this planet has a "species specific diet"; the diet to which that animal is designed to eat (and they're supposed to eat the foods of their designed diet as those foods appear in Nature and not processed, which includes cooking). Humans are no different. If you get a roomful of experts on the giraffe for example, they may have different opinions on whether giraffes should be kept in zoos or not, but they will all agree on what a giraffe is designed to eat. All of them. And it's usually difficult to get a roomful of experts to agree on anything. But not on the diet of hippos, ants, hummingbirds, and of all the animals on this planet, expect for one... humans. This is because of misinformed/miseducated people due to the tons of mis- and dis-information that abound, and this is because of either the profit motive or personal preference, i.e. believing what we'd rather believe, as opposed to believing in reality.

I've been eating a vegan diet for over 35 years, and an all-raw (all uncooked) fruit and leafy greens diet for over 25 years, and so far so good. I phrase it this way because we really won't know if our chosen way of eating worked for us until we see if we did or didn't get a diagnosis of something serious in the "winter" of our lives. And since I won't have a time machine to be able to go back to age 20 and try a different approach if I do get cancer or Alzheimer's when I'm older, it's important for me to make correct choices now... which is why I've spent 40 years researching the issue of optimal health. So, good or bad, we're going to be stuck with the ramifications of whatever diet we decide to eat. I hope the diet you decide to eat is decided by you and you alone; don't embrace what seems to sound good to you or what "resonates" with you. Base your decisions on hard-science, empirical evidence, sound logic, and uncommon sense (and not on what you'd rather do).

But back to teeth. As far as dental problems being caused by lack of Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) or proteins, a plant-based diet of fruits (both sweet and non-sweet) and leafy greens do have all the EFAs and protein one would need to be healthy if those substances are not damaged by cooking, and if one is eating enough of these foods (meaning you must be active enough to warrant enough calories worth of food to get enough EFAs and protein), and if you are eating a variety of foods (a diet of just oranges and romaine lettuce will result in dental problems and poor health), and if the foods you are eating contain the amount of nutrients your body needs, including your teeth (this last if is an often overlooked factor in robust health). It's amazing how the fact that cooking damages EFAs and protein is not known by those supposed health experts who weigh in on the issue of diet. Even traditionally educated nutritionists aren't taught what happens to the various components of food when they are subjected to the heat of cooking.

If you could ask dentists what percentage of their patients with dental problems are vegans, you'd get a very low number. But, as I said, there are vegans (and raw foodists) with dental issues. One reason is the increase of grain products and other "acid forming" foods when going vegan. Excess acidity in the bloodstream causes the body to use stored alkaline minerals, calcium especially, to neutralize the acid condition. This will, over time, demineralize bones and teeth.

Those raw foodists who developed major dental problems in my experience were found to be eating a lot of citrus fruits, little to no leafy greens (excellent source of minerals assuming enough minerals in the soil), and waaaaay too many nuts (metabolizes acidically).

I wonder if the most damaging practices to teeth are discussed in Ramiel Nagel's book (the gent who has the website mentioned in the title of this piece), such as:

1. Fluoridation (actually promotes tooth decay).

2. Using toothpastes that contain glycerin (which coat the teeth and prevent remineralization of the enamel) which is basically all toothpastes.

3. Brushing with anything but a "soft" toothbrush.

4. Clenching/grinding teeth while sleeping which can loosen them allowing pockets to form where bacteria can develop and it's difficult for the body to effectively deal with bacteria in these pockets.

5. Improper flossing (irritates gums causing them to recede exposing non-enameled parts of the teeth which are more easily damaged by acids).

6. Products that can be termed "vegan" that demineralize teeth such as soda, and acid-forming foods such as soy and grain products via the mechanism mentioned above.

7. Dried fruits (sticky sugars linger on teeth feeding bacteria whose "poop" is acidic and damages enamel).

8. Too much nut and seed consumption (prevalent among many raw food vegans). The body controls mouth pH, and will lower mouth pH (make more acidic) after a meal of nuts – as a predigestion process and to also to deal with the particles of nuts that remain in the mouth – and this can have a deleterious effect on tooth enamel over time.

9. Consuming hot and cold things. Divergence from normal mouth temperature by the amounts experienced when consuming ice cream or tea for example contracts and expands the enamel and over time causes "cracks" to form which weakens teeth but more importantly allows bacteria to enter those crevices where brushing can't get to them. This is especially pronounced in the areas of dissimilar materials such as where natural tooth meets metal fillings (the thermal expansion properties of enamel and metal are different and increase the "cracking factor").

10. When moving away from unhealthy processed food that is fortified with certain nutrients, it is important to make sure that you still get those nutrients now that they are not being provided to you via those fortified products. Some of the more important of these nutrients are vitamins D, B12, and iodine. Many processed foods marketed to vegans are not fortified with any nutrients. And if the raw fruits and vegetables that raw food vegans eat are lacking in any essential nutrients because they come from an agricultural-based system, someone could bump up against a nutrient deficiency, which, in the case of iodine, can impact dental health.

11. I should add if you're a mouth-breather when you sleep (because of nasal issues) this can dry out the mouth preventing your saliva from doing its daily job of remineralizing your teeth during that 8 hour period (assuming your saliva is mineral-sufficient). So doing something to stop the mouth breathing so you can breathe through your nose while you sleep will help with maintaining strong enamel.

So as you can see, there are other factors to the issue that need to be considered, including genetics (some people have stronger or weaker enamel; those with weaker enamel may want to rinse their mouths with something that kills bacteria before going to sleep, like a homemade diluted clove oil "mouthwash"; more on this later).

And as to why, according to Mr. Nagel, some vegans who start consuming dairy products in an effort to reverse bad dental health do just that, we could conclude that humans do require mammal milk after we've been weaned from it – contrary to vegan literature – but if we recognize that this would be an erroneous assumption, something else must be going on to account for the benefit. I discuss this mechanism here. This explanation talks about eggs, but the parallels to dairy are the same.

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Kevin Gianni on a high fruit diet and dental problems

> "The other thing you need to be careful about is that
> eating a high fruit diet can effect your teeth.
> I know, you've heard people say this isn't so. I have too.
> But I can't deny the EVIDENCE that I've seen and heard
> from people who've tried it and had their teeth
> literally start to fall out." - Kevin Gianni

I haven't found anyone who tried eating a high fruit diet and their teeth fell out. I think I'm way past the point of "trying it" and I've still got my teeth... teeth that, by the way, were ravaged by all the candy and sugar laden crap I ate as a child and teen (13 cavities), and teeth that were weakened by lots of antibiotics as a child, and teeth that have have weak genetics (more on that later). And now, after eating mostly fruit for over 20 years, no cavities. Of course this doesn't mean that the adoption of a high fruit diet shouldn't bother anyone's teeth; I'm not saying there haven't been people who switched to a high fruit diet and have had problems with their teeth, but just like you can't blame diabetes on carbs even though if you stop eating sugar, blood sugar will be more stable (but you'll be getting your calories from a high fat diet so you'll degrade your health in other ways), you can't blame tooth problems on the sugar from fruit. (Although Kevin phrases it "Sugars - from fruit or not" as if all sugars are created equal). If you're not getting enough minerals because you're either not eating enough greens or the foods you are eating are minerally deficient, and/or if you weren't getting enough minerals before you adopted a high fruit diet and thus have compromised teeth going into the diet, and/or are producing a lot of acid because of emotions, and/or if you have "weak" enamel genetics... and are not compensating by supplementing, flossing, dry brushing, and rinsing with a "bacteria manager", then, yes, one could end up with some dental problems when adopting a high fruit diet. And did Kevin mention rinsing the mouth before bed? It's a big help, so why don't health educators who profess to want to be helpful do their due diligence and mention the truly helpful things we can do?

Bottom line: There are so many reasons someone could be having dental problems when eating a lot more sweet fruit, but to deal with the problem by making people question the validity of a high fruit diet is not the answer to the problem. My take:

1. Be as sure as you can that you are consuming enough minerals, like you would have from food eaten from the wild, which may mean you take a supplement that has highly bioavailable minerals.

2. Be sure you're not eating a "too-low fat diet" (more on this below)

3. Brush and floss and rinse before bed.

4. Stay away from dried fruit and go easy on the dates.

5. And maybe do like some primates do and eat a little green leafies after a sweet fruit meal; maybe the reason they instinctively do this is to bathe the teeth in "mineralized juice" to neutralize any acid production, or maybe it washes the teeth of any lingering sugars. At the very least, rinse your mouth with water after a sweet fruit meal if you have less than bulletproof dental genetics.

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Toothpastes/powders

Earthpaste

Although I recommend dry-brushing (see the above "The advantages of dry-brushing"), if you feel you must use a toothpaste, do so in addition to dry-brushing, done after you dry-brush.

Earthpaste is a decent toothpaste. It has no fluoride, no glycerin, no sodium lauryl sulfate, and no dyes or sweeteners. I'd get the cinnamon version because it has less ingredients.

http://www.earthpaste.com

Eco-Dent Tooth Powder

Ingredients:
Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda), Tartaric Acid, Sodium Methyl, Cocoyl Taurate, Calcium Peroxide, Calcium Carbonate, Magnesium Carbonate, Sea Salt, Hydrated Silica, Peppermint oil, Myrrh.

If you are not used to a toothpowder, this product may seem a little strange. The powder is hard to spread onto the brush until you take the top off, pour a small amount on your hand and use a wet toothbrush to pick it up.

It has no fluoride, no glycerin, no sodium lauryl sulfate, and no dyes or sweeteners. It comes in two versions, one with Calcium Peroxide which is a natural tooth whitener and one without. The bicarbonate of soda, salt and peroxide all provide strong anti-bacterial agents. However, Eco-dent actively helps in the remineralization of your teeth. First the powder ensures your teeth are clean and free from any sticky glycerin coating. Next, as you add water to the toothpaste, CO2 is created which combines with your saliva to produce carbonic acid. Unlike the strong acids from foods which can eat away at the enamel, the carbonic acid dissolves the minerals in your saliva (which come from the foods you eat) to remineralize the teeth and strengthen the latticework of your enamel. When too many mineral ions are dissolved from our enamel by the acids from our food and bacteria, the enamel's fine latticework structure breaks down, and a cavity results.

This toothpowder also has some other benefits. You only need a very small amount, and the container will last for a long time. Once you get the hang of applying the powder by using a small amount on the palm of your hand and using the wet toothbrush to pick up the powder, it's easy to use.

Pro's - Helps to remineralize teeth naturally and contains no harmful ingredients, dyes or sweeteners. But if you don't use toothpaste containing glycerin, and you're taking in enough minerals from mineral-rich greens or a mineral rich nutritional adjunct to your diet, your saliva can remineralize your teeth (which is one of its jobs).

Con's - Hard to apply if you try and squeeze powder from the container lid. And putting anything on your toothbrush defeats its wicking ability (more on this below). BTW, those folks who say that Tartaric Acid in toothpaste is harmful to teeth have not done their homework and are simply assuming that anything "acid" is harmful to teeth. This acid is a naturally occurring food acid like citric acid, and no one would suggest that eating citrus fruit is harmful to teeth (unless it's unripe citrus fruit). And ask yourself, why would the Eco-Dent people – who are obviously trying to make a truly healthy toothpaste – put something in it that is harmful to teeth.

Bottom line: If you aren't benefiting from toothpastes, and dry-brushing would be just as effective, if not better, then you are wasting your money and bothering with something you needn't bother with. Food for thought.

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Why the dental problems?

In my years of counseling raw foodists I have come across some people who have problems with their teeth after they've adopted a high (normal) fruit diet. Some mistakenly take this to mean that humans are not designed for a high fruit diet, but this is incorrect.

As with most health related issues, dental problems are not so cut-and-dried. Why do some people who adopt an all raw vegan diet have dental problems, and some do not? Here's where individuality comes into play. There are a number of contributing factors.

Firstly, yes, fruit tends to be lower in minerals than green leafy vegetables, so this would suggest that we should also consume some green leafy vegetables, but this doesn't mean that the majority of our diet should be green leafy vegetables, because we wouldn't be able to get enough calories. And the truth be told, if the fruits we were eating were as minerally rich as they should be, we would not have to eat as much leafy greens as most raw foodists eat, if at all (read Anne Osborne's book).

Here are some contributing factors to dental problems... keep in mind some of these will apply to some people and some won't.

Fruit sugar does feed bacteria in the mouth, and when these bacteria are well-fed, they multiply. So you're likely going to have more of these guys when eating a high (normal) fruit diet than when eating a low fruit diet (and grains and fat for fuel). It is NOT the sugar that damages teeth (you can take a tooth and place it in a glass of sugar water and nothing will happen to it, but try a glass of soda – which contains phosphoric acid – and that tooth will go bye-bye). Bacteria are living organisms, and like all living organisms, they poop, and their poop is acidic, and this is what acts on teeth, not the sugar.

If you have good "dental genetics", and you weren't given a lot of antibiotics when your adult teeth were forming (antibiotics weaken teeth for life), and you are getting and utilizing all the minerals our body needs to maintain strong teeth, then you should have healthy teeth even on a high fruit diet. But if your dental genetics are not as perfect as they could be, and/or you received a lot of antibiotics as a child (tetracycline specifically), and/or you are not getting all the minerals your body needs, you are more prone to dental problems when adopting a high fruit diet... but the diet is not to blame.

Unripe fruit – especially citrus fruit – can damage tooth enamel. Anne Osborne makes this point abundantly clear in her talks (some of her comments re: eating ripe citrus are at the end of this post). So if the oranges that you bought turn out not to be ripe, compost them. And if you have anything other than the best "tooth genetics" you may want to rinse your mouth with water after eating fruits that contain citric acid.

Even though our ancestors didn't need to brush their teeth to avoid cavities, I personally need to do good dental hygiene to keep from getting cavities on this diet. And others need to do this too. I have researched the dental issue for a long time, and here's what I do:

I "dry brush". Dentists in the know will tell you that 99.99% of all toothpastes contain glycerin which coat the teeth. This was thought to protect the teeth from the ravages of the acidic bacteria poop, but it doesn't. What it DOES do is keep your saliva from remineralizing the teeth! You could put other things on your toothbrush, like Peelu Tooth Powder (www.vitacost.com/Peelu-Dental-Fibers), but you'll tend to do a more thorough job of cleaning if you have nothing on your brush. Then use only a soft brush (not "medium" and certainly not "hard"). This is the BEST toothbrush (http://www.phbdirect.com/shop/adult-brushes-with-covers/) in the world (and they're only 80 cents each, so buy twelve, they make great gifts). Here is another good toothbrush. If you feel you must have something on your brush, try Peelu Tooth Fibers (vitacost.com/Peelu-Dental-Fibers) but dry-brushing is more effective at keeping teeth healthy. And a good alternative to standard toothpaste is EarthPaste.

I floss before bedtime. If I've eaten something like stringy mango or an orange, which can get stuck in between teeth, I floss immediately after this type of meal too. I do not recommend trying to get the floss under the gums the way dentists show you; that is the job of the toothbrush bristles when you brush at a 45 degree angle to the gum-line. I floss just to remove food that is trapped in between teeth, AND to disturb any bacterial colonies. I also use a Showerfloss; it's like a water pic that you use in the shower. It's great because you don't have to worry about making a mess... because you're in the shower! This piece of technology is highly recommended.

I also rinse my mouth just before going to sleep with diluted clove oil (one teaspoon to 10 ounces of water in a 16 ounce bottle (leaves room for shaking because oil and water tend to separate), and the one teaspoon makes enough mouthrinse for about a week, so one bottle of clove oil will last a long time). This disturbs mouth bacteria. (Note: Make sure you are not allergic to clove or clove oil before using this mixture. Try some of the mixture on your skin first.) I know there are some Natural Hygienists who bristle at the thought of doing this mouthrinse thing, but I believe in dealing with reality and not doing things based on "we shouldn't have to..." Be sure to shake the bottle prior to taking a small swig of this mouthwash, and naturally don't swallow this mixture. Your mouth will probably salivate after you spit out this mouthwash because it is potent stuff, but that is a good thing, because the reason you're doing this is to dramatically reduce the bacteria count in your mouth when you go to sleep. To find this clove oil product, you can search for this number 733739075413 on Amazon.com, and it's here on iherb.)

There is also evidence to suggest that rinsing with an iodine "mouthwash" aids in both strengthening teeth (hardening enamel) and in lowering the mouth bacteria level so there's less acid being produced that can wear away enamel while you sleep. The iodine I'm talking about is NOT the one you'd find in your medicine cabinet, the one that's applied to cuts as a disinfectant. It's a formulation called Lugol's Solution which can be taken internally (with guidance), but you should spit out this mouthrinse when done. You can order it here, and you'd use forty drops in a one liter bottle of water. The nice thing about this mouth rinse is that you can – and should – swish it around in your mouth for a long time (unlike the clove oil mouth rinse), five minutes at least, ten is better. Use your mouth muscles to force the solution in between teeth under pressure (hard to describe how to do this). And keep the bottle in a cabinet out of sunlight (UV light changes the iodine into iodide). And shake well before each use. You may want to add some nutritious Brazil nuts to your diet (two a day) because some of the iodine will be absorbed into your body (a good thing) and if you are low in selenium, this would be a bad scenario. Alternatively, you could take a selenium supplement 200 mcg once or twice a week. Note: Don't use this instead of the clove oil mouthrinse, use this once a week in addition to the daily clove oil mouthrinse.

More details about making the iodine mouth rinse

Here's how I do it. I add ten drops of the 5% Lugol's in 8 ounces of water and that should provide enough for about five uses. Shake the bottle of the solution you make before taking a swig. And the bottle shouldn't be plastic, it should be glass, but not clear glass; brown or green glass is best. I bought a bottle of Alessi Fig Infused Vinegar because I liked the bottle, and I dumped out the vinegar and used the bottle. Put in the 10 drops of Lugol's, then add the water, leaving enough space to be able to shake the contents. I leave it in my mouth for about ten minutes, swishing almost the whole time. And I shape my mouth to be able to force the solution, under pressure, through various tooth areas (hard to explain this with words).

Some health advocates will say that to combat dental problems "don't eat so much fruit". Okay, but then where will you get your fuel from... fat and/or complex carbs in grain and dairy products? That can't be the answer; it may be easier on your teeth, but it's a lot harder on the rest of your body, and by following the things outlined on this page, you can mitigate any deleterious effects on your teeth from a fruit diet.

For completeness's sake, I should mention one other contributing factor to cavities. If you clench or grind your teeth while sleeping, this can loosen teeth creating pockets between tooth and gum where bacteria can live and go to town. You may clench or grind and not even know it. But if you wake up with a sore jaw, it's probably because of this. If you do this (and a competent dentist should be able to tell you if you do), wear a dental guard (doctorsnightguard.com) while sleeping so the teeth aren't loosened or otherwise damaged, and follow the other oral hygiene tips mentioned on this page, especially rinsing with diluted clove oil if you already have loosened teeth (and they aren't so loose that you can tell by wiggling them, they're just loose enough where bacteria can get into the pocket that formed).

I should add if you're a mouth-breather when you sleep (because of nasal issues) this can dry out the mouth preventing your saliva from doing its daily job of remineralizing your teeth during that 8 hour period (assuming your saliva is mineral-sufficient). So doing something to stop the mouth breathing so you can breathe through your nose while you sleep will help with maintaining strong enamel.

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The Weston A. Price Foundation says to eat fat to have strong teeth

Yes, but Weston Price didn't say to eat the amounts of fat that his namesake organization says to eat. It's always amazed me how organizations take liberties with what their founder said after the founder is dead. Ann Wigmore and Hippocrates is another example (Ann was not down on fruit the way the organization she founded is today). Yes, we need fat in our diet, but we need an appropriate amount, which are not the amounts recommended by the Weston A. Price Organization (and if you simply look at its board members and spokespeople, they don't look healthy at all, they look like many of the folks who eat a typical Western diet. Here's a short video that looks at this).

And yes, if you're not getting enough EFAs, your body will suffer, including your teeth; they will be more susceptible to cavities. So how do raw foodists eat a diet with insufficient fat? In an effort to not eat too much fat, they, wisely, stay away from large amounts of avocado and nuts, and some folks avoid these completely knowing that ALL fruit contains fat. But we must keep in mind what we're designed to eat, and it's not enough to say "mostly fruit", which, although technically correct, doesn't tell the whole story. We're designed to eat tropical fruits specifically. And many of these fruits can be described as "medium-fatty" fruits (an avo being a high-fat fruit, and a banana being a low-fat fruit). If we ate enough creamy tropical fruits, we'd get enough EFAs, and this fat-dental issue would be a non-issue. But many of us don't eat enough "semi-fatty" tropical fruits, like durian (half the fat of an avo). If you simply can't get your hands on semi-fatty tropical fruits (which happen to be the best tasting fruits on the planet), then consider adding some hulled hemp seeds and chia seeds to a banana smoothie. Yes, I know, we shouldn't have to do this, but let's focus on what we should do, and that includes getting enough EFAs. This is why I focus on nutrition and not on a diet per se. The most perfect diet for a human being is worthless if the foods of that diet don't contain sufficient amounts of the nutrients my body requires for optimal health. And anyone who tells you "Just eat fruit and you'll get everything you need" has been taught some very incorrect information, or is against nutritional adjuncts on principle, both of these being an obstacle to optimal health. And BTW, the reason for equal amounts of hemp seeds and chia seeds is that this combination yields a 1:1 EFA ratio, which is what does a body good.

The tropical fruit durian is a semi-fatty fruit and can be found at many Asian markets. I recommend to my clients to consume some at least twice a month (it's also a good natural source of sulfur, a natural disinfectant for the body).

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The criteria I use when choosing a dentist are:

* The dentist should do amalgam fillings removal and be proud of it, even mentioning it in any written lists of procedures (like on their website). If they say they "can" do it, that's not good enough for me.

* Do they do amalgam fillings? You can ask, "do you ever use mercury amalgam fillings?" If 'yes' I'd not go there.

* I ask how new is the equipment they use that protects the patient when mercury fillings are removed. There have been many advancements in this area, and dentists who really care about their patients will upgrade to the best equipment, and this says a lot about the dentist. This question is best asked of the dentist; office managers usually won't know the answer.

* Ask what protocols they recommend before and after mercury filling removals. If they don't recommend anything specific, run. A good dentist knows the value of consuming chlorella before and after mercury removal, and may even mention cilantro (these having to do with heavy metal removal; some mercury may get into your system even with the best protective equipment). You can buy Sun Chlorella in the supplement section of Whole Foods and many health food stores, and fresh cilantro can be bought at Whole Foods.

* A good way to tell if the dentist is keeping up with the times, AND providing the safest equipment is to see what kind of x-ray machine s(he) has. Digital x-rays are safer than the old fashioned kind. You can tell if they're digital by asking, "When the x-rays are taken, can they be seen immediately on a computer monitor?" If 'no', I'd go elsewhere.

* If the dentist is advertised as a cosmetic dentist, or specializes in cosmetic dentistry, I'd steer clear, even if the ad also says they do restorative dentistry. What can happen is that the dentist ends up doing mostly cosmetic dentistry and gets out of touch with restorative dentistry, both from a new technologies perspective and from a skills perspective.

* Since you're going to get those mercury fillings replaced with something else, ask if the dentist does Clifford testing (biocompatibility testing) http://ccrlab.com There are different formulations of composite fillings, and some may have materials in them that react badly with your body. Some people pooh-pooh this test, and I can't tell for 100% sure one way or the other, but I think that if it DOES have merit, why not use it. It requires you to go to a lab that draws blood, and they draw some and put it in the mailer that the dentist provided you. While this probably shouldn't be a "deal breaker" when choosing a dentist, it's something to consider.

"CEREC is an acronym for Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics. The system is manufactured in Bensheim, Germany. The cavity preparation is first photographed and stored as a three dimensional digital model, and proprietary software is then used to approximate the restoration shape using biogeneric comparisons to surrounding teeth. The practitioner then refines that model using 3D CAD software. When the model is complete, a milling machine carves the actual restoration out of a ceramic block using diamond head cutters under computer control. When complete, the restoration is bonded to the tooth using a resin."

This is neat in that you don't have to make a 2nd trip. But it begs a question about what material is used. Normally when the impression is taken, it's sent to a lab to have the restoration made. The results from the Clifford test are looked at by the dentist and he/she determines the best material to use (there are many different formulations of "composite"). The dentist relays this to the lab making the restoration. I have to wonder if a dentist that uses a CEREC milling machine on premise has all the different kinds of materials. It would be interesting to ask him if he does a biocompatibility blood test. If he says 'yes', I'd ask how many different materials does he have for his CEREC milling machine. If he has a wide enough range to accommodate almost everyone, he should have no problem answering your question. But if he has only one or two types, and he sees where you're going with your line of questioning, he may start throwing BS at you in the form of, "well compatibility testing is not absolute...we've never had a problem with any of the materials we use..." etc.

My choices (based on my Clifford test) included gold or a composite called "Empire"; I tested "bad" for other more common composite choices. Gold is the "king of fillings" in that it lasts longer than any composite. It's downside is that it expands and contracts at a different rate than enamel, so hot and cold foods and drinks can, over time, cause weakening of the tooth due to crazing (micro cracking). And you may not want to use gold fillings where it can be seen when you smile. But since I don't do hot and cold things, and it was on a back tooth, I opted for the gold.

Does the CEREC machine do "the king of fillings"? I'm guessing no. This would be an interesting discussion to have with a dentist who uses the CEREC method of making restorations. I'm not saying I wouldn't do the CEREC method just because I couldn't get gold, but it would be interesting to hear his explanation of why composites are just as good as gold (if he indeed does say this). And composite is less expensive than gold.

Since the last thing you want is tiny gaps between restoration and tooth, and since a restoration made with the CEREC machine would, in theory, be a more exact fit than the older "impression" method, I'd look into a dentist who does the CEREC method. But it still comes down to how conservative he is; how much would he lean towards or away from doing a root canal. When a friend of mine worked at a gas station as an auto mechanic, the owner would frequently sell people on repairs that weren't really necessary, and he did it because he could get away with it. When my friend got his own shop, he didn't do that, but he suffered for it financially, and eventually lost the shop. He said that for many shops, doing unnecessary repairs was necessary if they wanted to stay in business. Who knows how much this applies to a dentist's business. Most people are not going to argue with a dentist who says "you need a root canal". Hmm, but maybe if you say, "Well, since I can't afford that, you'll have to pull the tooth" and you look sullen at the thought of losing a tooth, and the dentist, at heart, is someone who really wants to save a tooth if at all possible, maybe that might get him to "reconsider" the issue. You have nothing to lose by saying it; you don't have to go through with the extraction... I'd just be curious how a dentist would react to the thought of having to pull a tooth that could be saved by something other than a root canal.

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Anne Osborne's comments on ripe citrus

Color alone is not always a useful indicator because oranges grown in warmer climes can often have a green skin color but be perfectly ripe; whilst other oranges can be under-ripe and then dyed to enhance skin color. Orange skin color can even go from green to orange to green again due to changes in temperature during their growth.

Most commercial oranges are not left to fully tree-ripen. For myself, the perfect ripe orange is one that has fallen from the tree onto the ground below. I have had such oranges in Portugal and Australia and they are so ripe and sweet and have very low acidity and are highly unlikely to cause any enamel erosion in healthy teeth.

One way to determine the ripeness of an orange is by testing its pH. I recently picked some tree-ripened navel oranges in my local area, and they had a pH of 6, which is really low acidity for citrus; and there was no negative effect at all on my teeth. So one way to test oranges before you buy a bulk load of them, is to test a couple of samples with pH paper. [Here's a resource for pH paper, and this one measures the range oranges should be in.]

At the same time as I tested the navels, I also tested some Valencia oranges that I thought were probably under-ripe; they tested at pH 4, so up to 100 times more acidic than the navels.

If you can 'feel' the effect of an orange on your teeth, it is probably under-ripe and too acidic.

Navels tend to be higher in pH (less acidic) than Valencias, so these might be a more optimal orange for someone with dental challenges.

Generally, a properly ripe orange will also feel heavy for its size. If it is under or over ripe it will weigh less.

Unfortunately with the onus on profit rather than ripeness, it is becoming more challenging to obtain properly ripe citrus. Generally, I find organic and biodynamic oranges to be picked more fully ripe than oranges grown with chemical pesticides. But I have still had way under-ripe organic oranges.
For optimal ripeness, I believe we need to be picking the oranges fully tree-ripened, or to know a supplier or grower who does.

Anne's book can be found here.

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