One of the most common concerns that arise regularly in the various raw food circles is dental health. This concern, however, is not limited to the raw food community, it is just more highlighted as we improve all other aspects of our health. We expect our teeth to improve right along with our health but often the opposite happens and we start to notice more tooth decay and irritation as we heal instead.
“More than 36 million Americans do not have any teeth, and 120 million people in the U.S. are missing at least one tooth. In the geriatric population, the ratio of edentulous [without teeth] individuals is 2 to 1.” -American College of Prosthodontists
But this was not always the case, as evidenced by ancient skulls tooth loss is a modern problem:
“Geologists and paleontologists often unearth the skulls of peoples long dead, the teeth of which show no signs of decay and the enamel on which is often almost double the thickness and much harder than the enamel on our teeth.”
“Today most of the civilized portions of the race are a race of dental cripples. We are face to face with the fact that our teeth begin to decay in childhood. Indeed they sometimes have cavities in them when they erupt.” – Herbert Shelton
The decay of the teeth is due to malnutrition. It is a progressive condition that begins before we are even born. The health and strength of our teeth start in the womb based on the minerals available in our mother’s body.
The health of our teeth then progressively degenerates throughout our life due to the consumption of cooked and processed foods, acid-forming foods, and a lack of proper exercise of the teeth.
Hugh W. McMillan, D.D.S., M.D., of Cincinnati, says:
“To a careful observer of dental conditions at the present time in clinic and private practice, it is very evident the ravages of dental caries and diseases of the gums are daily increasing, in spite of the increasing number of dentists, in spite of the multiplicity of patented and personally-designated tooth brushes, in spite of proprietary pyorrhea cures and gum massaging pastes, in spite of acid, alkalin, neutral, mucin dissolving and film destroying tooth pastes and mouthwashes and in spite of the type of periodontologist who aims to prevent by either applying or removing something from the tooth surface in the same manner that some unintelligent physician might expect to cure by external applications a skin disease of general origin.”
OUR NATURAL FOODS KEEP OUR TEETH STRONG
Our natural foods are dense and require vigorous chewing which exercises the teeth, jaw, and gums. Just as a strength training exercise is recommended for the elderly to maintain bone density, our teeth require strength training to keep them strong and healthy. They of course also need adequate nutrients to build from, which are found in the organic minerals in fruits and vegetables but they need exercise in the form of us masticating thoroughly to put those nutrients to use.
“That the teeth and bones are similar in structure has been recognized by nearly all physiologists. Chemically they are very much alike. According to Hoppe-Seyler, the inorganic constituents are the same for bone and for dentin, about 85 percent, calcium phosphate and from 10 to 12 percent, calcium carbonate. The density of dentin cartilage is about equal to that of bone.
The processes of calcification are analogous. In the teeth the calcification occurs about the processes of the odontoblasts, just as in bone it occurs about the bone cells and forms lacunae. In both, the inorganic constituents are laid down in a colloidal matrix. It would therefore seem reasonable to infer that a pathologic condition which affected one might affect the other. This, however, has not been the opinion of dentists. They believe that dental caries is a purely local affair. The present theory is that carbohydrate material adheres to the teeth and, there fermenting, with the formation of lactic acid, forms the cavity of tooth decay. This idea has not been supported by animal experimentation. Twenty guinea-pigs, fed on a diet to which were added large amounts of sugars, viz., dextrose, lévulose, lactose, saccharin, dextrin and white flour, showed no dental effect at the end of a year. The sugars and starches adhered to the teeth constantly, and bacterial examination disclosed a fermentative flora ; but no dental effects could be detected.” – P. Howe “Decalcification Of Teeth And Bones, And Regeneration Of Bone Through Diet”
The problem we are often seeing in the raw food communities is that our already impaired dental health makes it difficult to chew and our weak jaws get tired working through a large salad or bag of apples. For this reason, many raw foodists turn to smoothies, juices, dips, sauces, raw soups, and other blended and processed fares which allow us to get in the nutrients but not the jaw and teeth exercise we need for strong teeth.
The same study goes on to talk about the destruction of teeth when fed a scorbutic diet, which is a diet devoid of vitamin c, scorbutic meaning causes scurvy. The study found an “increase of magnesium in pathologic decalcification of bone.” Even when adequate calcium is supplied the lack of vitamin C, most prevalent in leafy greens and fresh fruits, led to dental caries (cavities), inflammation of the gums, loss of teeth, and purulent discharge from the gums. The correction is also found, “Feeding orange juice is followed by complete clearing up of the trouble.”
Shelton confirms the need for Vitamin C in dental health as well as Vitamins A and D:
“Tooth enamel is made up largely of calcium and phosphorus with small quantities of iron. But the fusion of these substances into enamel requires the presence of vitamines A, C and D. At least half a dozen elements and factors are essential to the production of this tissue. In the absence of either of these factors the enamel of the teeth cannot be made. It is folly to feed much calcium in an effort to produce good teeth and to ignore the other essential elements of the teeth.”
And yet it is exactly this folly that most succumb to, seeking out calcium supplements of inorganic and therefore harmful sources of minerals, or seeking high calcium foods without asking what else might be needed here.
“If man were to subsist wholly on alimentary substances in their natural state, or without any artificial preparation, by cooking, he would be obliged to use his teeth freely, and by so doing not only preserve his teeth from decay; but at the same time and by the same means, he would thoroughly mix his food with the solvent fluid of his mouth.“ – Sylvester Graham
“Sugar and fruit acids do not injure the enamel of normal teeth. Sound teeth have been immersed in a sugar solution and in fruit acids for months without suffering any erosion. Dr. E. Howard Turison and others have proved this.”- Herbert Shelton
“Lactic acid does not injure the enamel of the teeth. No experiments have been able to show that bacteria of any type, when cultured on the teeth, are responsible for dental caries.” – Herbert Shelton
“Experiments by Drs. Howe and Hatch (1917) in America, and by Sir James McIntosh, Warwick James and Lazarus-Barlow, working together in England, in trying to produce dental caries by using acid forming bacteria all resulted negatively. Dr. Howe says that “so long as the diet is normal it has been found impossible to cause caries or pyorrhea by maintaining fermentation in the mouth or by feeding or injecting the bacteria believed to be most actively associated with dental caries.” – Herbert Shelton
OUR UNNATURAL COOKED DIET BREAKS DOWN OUR TEETH
“Cereals, especially, seem to induce defective teeth, particularly when not counter-balanced with large quantities of green foods and fresh fruits.” P. Howe
“Investigations have revealed that those races whose diets include no cereals have teeth and mouths practically free of any kind of disease, while those races whose staple diets are cereals and meat with relatively small amounts of fruits and vegetables have jaws and teeth like those so common in America. Wheat is the most damaging of all the cereals, regarded from the point of view of its acidity. Little meat and cereals and an abundance of fruits and vegetables produce teeth like those found in Polish and Irish peasantry and those of the vegetarian races of the Orient.” – Herbert Shelton
When we cook our foods we create a soft mass that requires little chewing. Our unnatural cooked foods diets are abundant in soft mushy foods – pasta, bread, cereals, oatmeal, mashed potatoes, and even the vegetables which would supply adequate nutrients to build strong teeth are softened to mush by cooking and have their organic minerals converted to inorganic minerals in the process. Uncooked food in comparison requires vigorous chewing, supplying the teeth with much-needed exercise.
WHY THEN DOES IT APPEAR SOMETIMES THAT DENTAL DECAY OCCURS AFTER TRANSITIONING BACK TO THE NATURAL DIET?
There are a few reasons why we might see an increase in dental decay when we begin to transition to the natural diet. As mentioned above, the heavy reliance on blended and processed raw foods that most use as a transitional tool does contribute to the underuse of our teeth. As the body begins to heal and release old acidic waste from storage the body will take alkaline minerals from the bones and teeth to neutralize those acids.
“…in order to neutralize the acids formed by the decomposition of excess protein, the body was forced to give up its mineral salts. Thus the teeth, bones, cartilages, nails, hair, etc., were leeched of these elements.” – Herbert Shelton
If we are properly exercising our teeth during this time the body will see the strength of the teeth as a necessity and will replenish the teeth faster than it pulls from them because we are supplying an abundance of minerals in the form of leafy greens, fruits, and vegetables. But if we are relying heavily on blended, juiced, and processed foods or focusing our diet too much on soft fruits and not enough on tough fruits, leafy greens and vegetables that require working our jaw and supply ample minerals, then the body will see the teeth as expendable compared to the vital organs.
Another reason some experience issues is that despite meat causing many health issues the gristly tissues are a workout for the jaw. The shift then from that workout without replacing it with another can lead to the weakening of the teeth during this time.
We are also dumping symptom suppressants along the way. Often as we learn to take better care of ourselves we also stop using fluoridated toothpaste which creates a false strength to our teeth while we are using them but which the body tries to eliminate as soon as we stop. The internal damage to our teeth has already progressed and when we stop the fluoride which fills the gaps where the calcium is missing, the holes show up quickly. If we are eating abundantly of mineral-rich greens and working our jaws, these holes will fill back in eventually, but in the short term dental issues may arise.
Then we have the issue of dead teeth. Since dental decay is a progressive process that occurs gradually over time and from the inside out, we have been destroying our teeth since childhood but the major issues tend to begin to show up for all people between the ages of 30 and 50. If you are a woman who has given birth to children that may start even earlier as creating new life takes lots of minerals from the body to give them to the child. As the body starts to clean and heal it wants to discard the unrepairable. Sometimes this means that old filings are pushed out, and sometimes this means that damaged and dead teeth are broken down for their materials instead of being rebuilt. Only the body can decide whether a tooth is salvageable or in need of discarding.
WHAT CAN WE DO TO IMPROVE OUR DENTAL HEALTH AND MINIMIZE TOOTH LOSS?
“We examined the jaws of some of these animals after they had died. The jaws showed that while the guinea pigs had been on a vitamin-deficient diet, the bony structure of the jaw had been mined of its calcium and when the normal diet was restored, areas of calcium had been replaced, showing very definitely that the body calls on the bones for calcium when it is needed in the blood, and that the blood gives calcium back when there is an abundance of this element.” P. Howe
The good news is, our teeth can and do rebuild to some extent when we feed them adequately. Before I knew much about healing I used to say, “An apple a day keeps the dentist away as well as the doctor.” I had always noticed how much better, cleaner, and stronger my teeth felt when I was regularly eating apples and apparently both Tilden and Shelton confirm the benefits of the apple.
Dr. Tilden especially recommends apples for rachitic children, and for building good bones and teeth. Dr. Claunch stated that cavities in his teeth healed while he was on an apple diet. – Herbert Shelton
This makes sense when combined with our knowledge about the importance of exercising our teeth, as apples are one of the foods that work our jaws the most.
Oranges are another great food for dental health. Although they don’t require much of a dental workout they do supply a generous amount of building materials, including Vitamin C.
Leafy greens and tender vegetables are mineral rich and a great workout for the jaw. I recall early in my journey how tired my jaw would get from all the chewing. Now I realize how weak my jaw was back then. Over time my jaw has strengthened and now eating a huge salad is a joy, but early on it was truly a workout.
A variety of fruits and greens are going to supply the necessary building materials for our teeth, but crisp fruits, greens, and vegetables are the keys to the working of our teeth.
As they say, “use it or lose it!” If we don’t work our teeth with vigorous mastication we will lose our teeth.
Overall though, there is no one thing, no magic cure for poor teeth, instead, we must focus on health overall and by correcting all of our bad habits that injure the body as a whole we then put the conditions in place for good dental health as well.
As Herbert Shelton so eloquently exclaims:
“Good teeth depend upon good health and not vice versa as the tooth-extracting fad proclaims. No cause of impaired health, however insignificant it may seem to be, should be neglected if the teeth are to be preserved. There seems to me to be no way to preserve the teeth by any plan that falls short of a complete system of health building. No one-idea plan can succeed. Soundness of the teeth will be preserved by the same mode of living that preserves soundness in all the tissues and structures of the body. We must learn to think in terms of health-building. We must learn to think in terms of health of the whole organism and cease thinking in terms of local health.”