An All-Natural Cure for Cavities

Dec 31, 2014, by Dr. Becky Coats

These days, if you throw a rock you’ll hit an all-natural cure for something. One that’s making the rounds right now is the supposed all-natural way to cure cavities using nutrition to prevent them rather than trying to clean teeth and remove bacteria.

A Kooky Explanation

No natural cavity cureWe can start our exploration of the all-natural cavities cure with this rather poorly written website, which explains why bacteria don’t cause cavities.

They start out by saying that indigenous people didn’t get cavities, even when they ate fermentable carbohydrates. While it’s true that few primitive populations had tooth decay to the same degree we do, it’s also true that they sometimes did, such as this paleolithic population. In that case, we can easily identify that it was an increase in carbohydrate consumption via sweet acorns that led to extreme tooth decay.

This page also claims that natural foods like milk, meats, and vegetables don’t cause cavities. This is untrue. If you look at the way  night-time feedings of babies contribute to early cavities you can see that even breast milk can lead to cavities.

The website claims that “Bacteria do not consume processed sugar or flour because of the lack of nutrients in them.” The ignorance in this statement is revelatory. Sugars and flours contain a lot of one very important nutrient: energy (i.e. calories), and, in combination with other nutrients consumed, these calories can fuel bacteria’s metabolic processes. It can even trigger those processes when bacteria would rather go dormant to avoid antibiotics.

Others have point out, quite rightly, that the bacterium most responsible for tooth decay Streptococcus mutans is commonly found around the world, even in populations that don’t have high levels of cavities. However, what they don’t tell you is that S. mutans has evolved to live in our mouths, and that it underwent a dramatic evolution about 10,000 years ago (roughly coinciding with the rise of agriculture). The S. mutans in our mouths has about 70 mutations that differentiate it from those living outside our mouths, and 50 of them are specifically dedicated to surviving in our mouth, including mutations for consuming fermentable carbohydrates and surviving in an acidic, low-oxygen environment.

Our Sugar Addiction

There’s no getting around the fact that sugar is the primary cause of cavities. And the reason why modern people have such a huge problem with tooth decay is that we consume so much of it. Even if we look back at premodern agricultural populations (such as the Romans), we see that in most cases their teeth aren’t so bad (although the Egyptians had bad teeth, especially the upper classes, who consumed more sugar and grain than the lower classes). That’s because refined sugar is a relatively recent addition to our diet (as you can see in this infographic from Forbes). Before the mid-19th century, Americans and most of the world consumed only small amounts of sugar, but sugar consumption skyrocketed by the beginning of the 20th century. That’s why the period from the introduction of sugar to the adoption of toothbrushing was the worst for tooth loss (about three times higher than that for those born after 1945), giving vaudeville virtually limitless fuel for dentures jokes.

If you read the whole page on this all-natural cavities cure, you’ll see that even they seem to concede the important role that sugar plays in cavity formation, because they say you should limit “processed food intake full of processed flours and sugars.”

There’s probably nothing really wrong with adding more organ meat and bone broth to your diet, and of course cutting down on sugars will do you good. And if you want to, go ahead and buy their book, but don’t stop brushing your teeth, and don’t stop making your regular dental visits.

If you would like to learn more about how you can really protect your teeth, please call (817) 481-6888 for an appointment with a Grapevine dentist at Grapevine Dental Care today.