“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” – Hippocrates
Diet: The Primary Dental Heath Foundation
Patients often ask me what style of toothbrush or brand of floss and toothpaste products that I would recommend to best care for their teeth and gums. They will ask about special rinses or even holistic and homeopathic treatments that they can add to their daily oral hygiene habits that might help them battle against cavities and gum disease. Many of these home care products can be very helpful and important in improving ones oral health. However, the central primary factor affecting every dental patients health, and often the least considered, is diet. I have come to believe, after years of practicing dentistry in multiple different states and observing many different types of patient populations, that the most neglected aspect of oral (and systemic) health, is actually the most central and integral issue. This issue is the patient’s daily dietary habits. We really are what we eat!
What many people come to understand after some research in to most all types of medical problems, diseases and dental ailments, is that they are inflammatory in nature. They are either instigated and/or exacerbated by the typical American diet full of empty processed carbohydrate calories and massive quantities of added processed sugars. This unbalanced and unnatural diet creates an acidic, immunosuppressive environment that allows damaging bacteria and viruses to wreak havoc in our body systems. The best way to fight against oral and systemic disease is to start at the foundation. Food should be our medicine…our cure. Food should not be our enemy or killer.
Though there are many versions of a non-inflammatory and whole-body health supportive diet, and not every human body thrives on exactly the same nourishment, one of the most highly recommended diet plans in the biological dental community is the Weston Price diet. (https://www.westonaprice.org) Price was mainly known for his work on the role of nutrition in dental and physical health with a focus on dental caries. He believed and proved through research that “lack of adequate nutrition causes physical degeneration and tooth decay is the result of physical degeneration.” I would have to agree, and that is why I encourage all of my patients to evaluate and adjust as necessary their daily dietary nutrition as an integral part of their dental health journey. Ideally, these dietary evaluations and modifications are made with the help of the patient’s naturopath, integrative medical doctor or experienced nutritionist.
Don’t get me wrong. I am a firm believer in daily removal of plaque from the teeth and gums with proper and effective oral hygiene. I have seen, first hand, the positive effects that homeopathic dental adjuncts, such as bentonite clay, coconut oil and activated charcoal can have on a patient’s dental health. But if you ask me to name the single most important issue affecting our dental and whole-body health today, my answer would be, emphatically, “DIET, DIET, DIET.”