**This post has been entered in Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist!**
This year, my daughter turned 3. That’s the time when children are supposed to start doing a bunch of new health things — seeing an eye doctor, and visiting the dentist, among other things. Any conscientious parent would be on top of this and would call to make an appointment within a week of their birthday…right?
As it happens, while I was “on top of it” in the sense that I asked a few mainstream people if it was the right time (yes) and began to consider what I felt was most appropriate, I did not take her. I don’t know that much about modern dentistry or its inherent benefits or risks, but I’m not going to buy the conventional lines without a lot of careful research. So today, I’m going to take you through what I do know, and offer some things to think about as well.
Is Modern Dentistry Required?
I don’t believe that it is, any more than modern medicine is ‘required’ in general. That is, it has its place for emergencies or when other things have failed, but the types of preventative care they have to offer are often not very safe and not necessary.
Preventative care typically consists of bi-annual cleanings, x-rays, exams, and fluoride treatments. Cleanings aren’t awful, and neither are physical exams. There’s nothing wrong with checking a person’s teeth with a small tool to see if there are any signs of decay or cavities. An exam can tell you if perhaps a problem is starting.
X-rays and fluoride treatments, however, are not without risks. X-rays are frankly unnecessary if a physical exam doesn’t reveal any problems. They expose patients to radiation and generally are done as a matter of course, not because there are any problems or suspected problems. I’ve never had a single set, nor known anyone personally who’s had a single set done that has revealed an unknown issue. Exposure to x-rays are also potentially harmful, and have been linked to cancer and other fatal diseases. It is wise to minimize their use, and never use them for ‘routine’ purposes!
Fluoride, too, has many different risks. It can harden teeth, but too much can cause ‘fluorosis,’ or weakening and yellowing of teeth. Treatments are also absorbed systemically through the gums and soft palate in the mouth. Fluoridated drinking water, too, has negative effects. It is a carcinogen (causes cancer) and has never been proven to really help fight cavities. In fact, it’s never been tested at all — it was in use prior to 1938, before the FDA required drugs to be tested before approval (all drugs used prior to 1938 were simply ‘grandfathered’ in and not required to be tested). Sodium fluoride, now sometimes prescribed to children to get ‘extra fluoride’ was also sold prior to 1938 — as rat poison.
Proper Dental Care
I honestly believe that most people simply go to regular dentists and just try to skip x-rays, fluoride, and other toxic ‘treatments’ because they don’t know what else to do. It’s confusing: there is not a lot of information out there about the role of dental care in our modern life, and it is hard to know what to do.
There are people who don’t use any form of dental care, not even brushing their teeth. And then there are people who, even though they lean ‘alternative,’ definitely get regular, standard dental care. Which is right? Why?
There’s a lot to say about this topic, honestly — too much for me to cover in one post. Suffice it to say that I don’t think a lot of dental care is necessary. I don’t believe in regular x-rays or fluoride treatment (for the reasons noted above). I don’t believe in sealants (they have hormone-disrupting properties and are just not necessary if you consume a healthy traditional diet). I don’t believe in a lot of the toxic, preventative measures out there. (And certainly not in the ‘cosmetic’ stuff like tooth whitening! Very toxic!)
Nutrition also plays a huge role in proper dental care. Modern dentists don’t discuss this because, like doctors, they are not trained in this area. They are trained in caring for teeth and solving problems. Many do not believe that diet can influence dental health. But it can.
Nutrition helps to maintain clean, solid teeth. Dr. Price’s research showed that well-nourished people had wide mouths with plenty of space for teeth, and that their teeth were strong, even and white — without any dental care. We have not introduced any dental care in our home, and our children’s teeth are this way, too. I have spoken to other parents who never do any form of dental care (not even brushing teeth) whose children’s teeth are also this way!
Sugar is definitely a culprit in poor dental hygiene — anyone can tell you that! Consuming too much sugar can affect teeth both topically and systemically, causing crowded teeth, uneven teeth, cavities, etc.
There are a couple interesting stories you may want to read regarding the role of diet in oral health: I Healed My Child’s Cavity, and Save a Damaged Tooth with No Root Canal, Heal Cavities with Nutrition, Healing Cavities. (Root canals are especially bad, and are highly linked to cancer. Read more about root canals. Damaged teeth can be healed by homeopathy or simple removal, if needed.)
Essentially, a diet rich in calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus, and vitamin K2 will prevent and even heal cavities! This is another reason why consuming lots of butter and taking your cod liver oil are absolutely crucial to health. Most people are deficient in these fat soluble vitamins (D and K2) because our modern diet just doesn’t have enough of these — we’re afraid of fat, and we’re afraid of the sun!
Treating the Teeth
Nutrition is the basis for dental health, just as it is the basis for any other type of health! But do we need to do more than eat well? And if so, what?
Brushing Your Teeth
I think the jury’s out on this one, since I know plenty of people (who eat low-sugar, traditional diets) who do not do this and still have very healthy teeth. But, many people prefer to brush their teeth still because they don’t feel ‘clean’ if they don’t.
Avoid commercial toothpastes if you do choose to brush your teeth. Also avoid any toothpaste that contains fluoride (some natural brands do), glycerin, or any harsh abrasive. Some swear by homemade toothpaste, or tooth soap. Others like to use Dr. Bronner’s as toothpaste (which might be yucky but is safe).
Use a gentle toothbrush and brush your teeth very carefully so you don’t hurt your gums.
Another method of keeping your mouth clean and free of disease is oil pulling. This is a method that we have used at different times, depending on what was going on. My husband needed to do this for awhile because he had a lot of tooth decay issues. If we’d known at the time what we do now, we would have paired this with the FCLO and more nourishing fats.
Anyway, oil pulling is an ancient method of cleaning the teeth. The idea is that by gently swishing oil in your mouth and through your teeth, you can kill bacteria naturally and clean your entire mouth. It’s also supposed to help heal infections in the mouth, as well as throughout the body. The theory there is that the infections show up through the gums and soft palate, by oil pulling you’ll kill those germs, too.
Oil pulling is definitely useful for cleaning the mouth and teeth and helping to prevent decay, though, and could (does) replace tooth brushing for some people. Sunflower or sesame oil are commonly chosen, but they should be cold-pressed and kept refrigerated. These are supposed to be the best oils for healing. We chose sesame oil when we used this method.
Here is how it works:
- Do this immediately upon waking, before eating or drinking anything
- Measure 1 tbsp. of your chosen oil (1 tsp. for a child 5 – 12)
- Put it in your mouth and begin to gently swish and swirl it around, through your teeth, under your tongue, etc. Gently. Your jaw should not get sore.
- As you swish, the oil will ‘expand’ (with saliva) and become yellowish and frothy. It generally takes about 10 minutes to reach the point where it is just ‘junk’ and not oil.
- Spit the oil out, and rinse your mouth with lukewarm water a couple of times to remove anything that remains.
- Done! You can eat and drink as desired now.
It’s very simple, and very beneficial.
Homeopathy and Holistic Dentistry
Sometimes, you may experience tooth pain. One solution may be to floss your teeth, if anything is stuck in them. Removal can help to heal that pain (and we do this when needed).
But sometimes tooth pain is caused by an infection, or breaking a tooth, or another, more serious cause. In this case, homeopathy may be the answer.
Here are some popular remedies:
- Hypericum — Heals nerve damage (can avoid a root canal with this sometimes)
- Arnica — If a tooth is broken and there is any damage to the surrounding muscles/tissues
- Calcarea fluorica — Relieves toothache and swelling, and can prevent a tooth loosening without pain
- Mercurius Vivus — Relieves spongy, easily-bleeding gums
There are many others (click the link for options). But, homeopathy is absolutely a viable option for dental care.
Holistic dentists also exist. Their goal is to look at the body as a whole. Many follow Dr. Price’s research and teachings, and the research that has been done since that time which corroborates his findings. If a patient comes in with cavities, they don’t simply want to drill and fill (though they may, if needed); they will recommend nutritional changes that may help to heal the damage, or at least prevent further damage. They also don’t use mercury fillings, often don’t use fluoride, and are generally much less toxic options than modern dentistry!
Holistic dentists are a great option for those seeking dentistry but who want to avoid all the cosmetic and toxic options. I believe they are also more open-minded and willing to work with patients on different options.
I haven’t personally seen a holistic dentist, but would be interested to see one. About 7 years ago, I had a couple of tiny cavities filled at a traditional dentist, one I’d actually known for many years. I refused Novocain. The dentist was not happy. He proceeded with the work, though. As it turned out, I did not even feel any pain (without any pain medication) from the procedure. The taste of the amalgam was worse, to me, than the drilling. I was so glad that I didn’t have to deal with the needles and the fat lip and all that junk! Even so, I got a lecture from the dentist after: “I could not be a dentist without Novocain, it is a very important part of modern dentistry.” I suspect holistic dentists would not be like this.
A book worth reading is Rami Nagel’s Cure Tooth Decay. He discusses the use of raw milk, the role grains play in tooth decay, and more, in healing tooth decay (he is a proponent of traditional/WAP diets).
The Bottom Line and Our Choices
We don’t need modern dentistry in the ways we’ve been led to believe. Topical care is not the only way to prevent cavities or oral disease, nor even the best way! Nutrition should be our foundation, as in every other area of our lives.
There are holistic dentists, homeopathy, and alternative methods of caring for our teeth in case we need help outside of nutrition.
At this time, our family does not participate in any modern dentistry. I check my kids’ teeth periodically to make sure they are still looking healthy, to see if any new ones are coming in. They get daily doses of their FCLO/BO supplement. So far their teeth are white, healthy, and not crowded at all. We have used homeopathy, but only for teething pain with them. They drink water before bed and take a cup of water with them to bed (water only, filtered).
My husband and I use floss when needed and have used oil pulling in the past. I take FCLO/BO everyday. I also drink a lot of water before bed and overnight, if I need to. So far our teeth are healthy.
What is your dental routine? What questions do you have about dental care?