While many of us were brought up believing that calcium was the only nutrient needed to foster healthy teeth – and if we got a cavity, we simply needed to go to the dentist to get it “drilled and filled” – new evidence is revealing a different side to dental cavities.
In recent years, there has been a flood of new evidence explaining what happens during tooth decay. From the cells that manage the immune response, and the oral and gut microbiome, scientists now understand far more about teeth than they did a decade ago. Science is showing how influential both diet and lifestyle are on our health – and our mouths – and experts now understand tooth decay as a condition that we can prevent. We also can heal cavities and reverse tooth decay in certain circumstances.
The quality of your diet determines whether you are getting the necessary nutrients to support the teeth’s natural healing process. Your teeth weather a lot of wear and tear daily, and their ability to continually regenerate allows you to keep your teeth even into old age. However, this process requires specific vitamins and minerals, and if you’re not getting them from your diet or from supplementation, you may be hindering your teeth’s ability to heal.
Here are some of the important nutrients – and the foods that contain them – which can help maintain a healthy smile full of shining white teeth.
The best foods to heal your teeth naturally
Foods that contain vitamin A
The retinol form of vitamin A from animal sources is known to support bone development through cell turnover. It works alongside vitamin D to activate the growth and development of genes through the body. Foods such as organ meats, butter, eggs, and grass-fed dairy contain these vitamins. But if there is tooth decay, an additional, nutrient-dense supplement such as cod liver oil might be needed. These nutrients feed the cells that cure tooth decay. Similar to the cells that are responsible for growing bone mass, cells called odontoblasts emit an immune reaction within the tooth that can reverse dental cavities.
Foods that contain vitamin D3
Strong bones and teeth need vitamin D. The body’s systems need vitamin D to control hormonal signaling for healthy teeth, bones, and immune system. On the flip side, vitamin D deficiency is thought to increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. This has become more common since low-fat diets have stripped some important sources of vitamin D from our everyday diets. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to tooth decay as well as many chronic diseases, including digestive, auto-immune, and mental conditions.
To obtain more vitamin D from your diet, there are a few principles you need to know. First, you need to eat more fat. As a fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin D needs to be consumed with a fatty meal. Some of the richest vitamin D-containing foods include salmon and fatty fish, cod liver oil, and ghee. Egg yolks and beef liver are also excellent sources of vitamin D.
Foods that contain vitamin K2
Research suggests that vitamin K2 may protect your bones from osteoporosis and lower your risk of bone fractures. Vitamin K2 has been found to activate the protein osteocalcin, which is necessary for bone metabolism and the growth of new dentin within your teeth. It works together with vitamin D3 to carry calcium to your teeth and bones for normal absorption.
Foods that are rich in vitamin K2 include natto (a fermented soy product), goose liver, grass-fed cheese and butter, pastured egg yolks, and dark chicken meat from free-range chickens. A vitamin K2 supplement is an option for those who don’t regularly consume these foods.
Foods that contain magnesium
We need magnesium to prevent inflammation, stave off illness, and support every system in the body. Yet, the majority of Americans don’t get enough magnesium in their diet.
Magnesium performs many functions that are important for healthy teeth. It aids in the absorption of calcium and assists with activating many of the B vitamins. Magnesium makes teeth harder, helps to build strong enamel for your teeth, and helps prevent the formation of cavities. The best magnesium-rich foods include avocados, nuts, seeds, fish, and dark leafy greens. Taking an Epsom salt bath is also an excellent way to increase magnesium intake.
It’s time to start eating real, whole foods that are good for your teeth. These foods won’t just improve your oral health they will benefit the whole body. This means you’ll enjoy healthy teeth and a body that looks, feels, and performs better, too.
-The UpWellness Team