A Flexitarian Approach to Dental Care

In a previous exposition on the flexitarian approach to medicine, we saw that there were many different dimensions that add to a more holistic healthcare. There was eating the diet right for you and the optimal functioning of your body systems via the Naturopath. There was skeletal soundness provided by Osteopathic physicians and the Chiropractic Doctor. There were massages and colonics and much, much more. Now we will explore a different subset of the skeletal system, the bones we call our teeth. Traditionally, people only see one way forward when it comes to taking care of their teeth. Brush them twice a day using fluoridated tooth paste. Floss regularly. See a dentist twice a year for cleaning and fluoride application. A fluoride mouthwash is an added bonus. But could there be another side to this one dimensional story? Read on to find out added depth to this normally very flat discussion.

Bones Within You And Without You

How many of use realize that our teeth are our only bones that extend from inside our body to the outside? Most just take for granted that we have grinders and a couple of incisors to pulverize and rip our food as the first stage of digestion. It's easy enough to take for granted in childhood because we experience the falling out of every tooth. It is a little difficult to not feel like you have one-upped the universe when the tooth fairy takes away a mecury filled baby tooth. “There were 4 cavities, and now there were 3! Hahahah!”

Ah, how it felt to get a cavity and have it wiped from the record. It's also too good to be true, right?

Wrong. The fact that teet are bones that extend into our mouth (and by extension to the outside world) gives it attributes not normally found with other bones. For starters, all bones are self healing within a healthy human body. Teeth have the same trait. When you break a bone and go to the doctor, all they can do is set a cast so the bone grows the right direction. They don't give you anything to make your bone heal itself; your body does not completely naturally.

The reader is urged to read this information slowly and allow it to seep in. Your bones all have the capacity to regrow. Your teeth, as bones, can do likewise. This understanding allows a conscious person to take advantage of the benefits of this relationship to the extent that you can have healthy dental care without the dependence of a dentist.

A Modern Theory of Dentistry In One Word

The recent ADA headlines effectively sum up modern dentistry's plan for stopping cavities. After a recent study showed over a quarter of kintergardeners have cavities before they start school, the ADA has begun to encourage mothers to use a rice grain sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste as soon as a tooth appears in their baby 1). Modern dentistry has successfully inplemented fluoridated toothpaste so that it is in almost every tube that sits on the shelves. And yet the data shows kids are still getting cavities, so the solution is…get the fluoride to them faster!

What does a dentist do when you get a cleaning? Fluoride. Kids are getting more cavities? Fluoride. Your baby has a tooth? By God, man, get that baby some fluoride!

The entire premise of healthy teeth is predicated on the assumption that you need to be using fluoride on your teeth for them to be without cavities. The reality of the situation is much more nuanced. We know how our bones are made and we know what our body does for upkeep. Our teeth are like generationally old trees who live for many decades. The application of fluoride is like trying to introduce a material into the bark that helps the tree with protection. However we know what makes up the bark and we know how to grow healthy bark, so why wouldn't we just do that? A tree can produce healthy bark and protect itself for its entire life. Let's work with the tree's system of protection rather than reinvent the proverbial wheel.

Your Saliva is Mostly A Nutrient Bath For Your Teeth

The nature of bone mineralization and demineralization is very simple. When the minerals necessary for bone formation are present in the blood, they can be transferred to osteoblasts and new bone is formed within the skeletal structure. When minerals that are in the bone are needed throughout the body for other functions, or when dietary habits pull unusual amounts of minerals out of the bones, this is done by osteoclasts. The body has osteoblasts and osteoclasts as a simple system of using the skeleton as a mineral bank 2).

In our mouth it is a little different because the bone is exposed to the atmosphere. The mechanism of mineralization and demineralization is found within the saliva. Way more than just mouth water, saliva contains a wealth of goodies that help your teeth stay healthy. Saliva has a number of densely sourced minerals needed for tooth remineralization and it also has protein that your teeth must use for building 3). The very presence of saliva is a deterrant to cavity formation because it is like a nutrient bath that the living bone feeds from whenever you have saliva.

Sadly, many pharmaceutical medicines have a “minor” side effect of dry mouth. Anxiety medications, antihistamines, diuretics, blood pressure medications, and other common prescriptions lower the saliva production in people 4). This is exposing their entire dental health to disease but it is looked upon as a merely unpleasant side effect and nothing more.

There is a bacteria that can live on our teeth in acidic conditions. It feeds off of carbohydrate food stuffs and produces an acid which breaks down the minerals that form the outside of the tooth. There is a growing realization that one shouldn't brush their teeth after eating cake or something sweet becuase the sugar on the teeth can be abrasive. it's even possible the dimineralization process has already begun and to brush your teeth with the abrasive sugar still on it can cause more damage than good 5)

The common items that lower pH, lower saliva, or add sugar to the environment have not recieved the blacklash they deserve for cavity formation. When the ADA learns that 25% of kintergardeners have cavities, the response should be to those things that are inducing the cavities. Quite obviously, a 5 years old (and younger) is a notorious age for lollipops, candies, cookies, and all things that have flour or sugar. Where is the outrage for these foods? The reality is that they do not want to completely wage war with the sweet foods industry, they would rather work around it.

Feed The Saliva From The Stomach

Flour and sugar do more than just damage to the surface. Dr. Weston Price was a dentist who has the good fortune of travelling the world to study the dental structures of indigenous peoples. He found all over the world groups of people who did not have any system of brushing or cleaning their teeth, yet they showed no signs of cavities! How was this possible?

They flooded their teeth from within their body with good nutrients.

Price found that the indigenous people who ate nutrient dense organ meats and a diet of fresh foods; most notably a mix of raw dairy, vegetables, a little fruit and bone broth soups. All of these things consumed contained unusually high amounts of fat soluble vitamins A, E, and K, which he found were vital to good dental health 6) It seems their diet created an incredibly health interior physiological condition where the saliva was densely stocked with bone building materials and the rest of the body was infused with bone growing vitamins and minerals. Most of the food they ate did not leave a sugary acid film for bacteria to take advantage of, either.

Dr. Price than began to witness indigenous people who began to accept western foods into their diet, namely products of processed white flour, sugar, and vegetable seed oils. Many of these foods came in as cheaper alternatives, but they were much more expensive to their health. Dr. Price noticed some population who incorporated western flours and sugars for only a generation and a significant increase in tooth decay was found 7).

The most amazing thing about Price's research was the discovery of people who didn't brush their teeth and yet they had healthy teeth and gums (a modern example here 8) ). This flies in the face of modern dentistry. Not only were they not brushing their teeth, they were not brushing their teeth with any fluoride! Nor visiting a dentist for a cleaning with fluoride! Or using a fluoridated oral mouth rinse!

This is why we argue that fluoridation is not necessary compared to what we know about the human mouth, the salival system, and tooth decay. Unfortunately, modern dentistry has put all of it's eggs in one basket and that basket is fluoride. Yes, fluoride do what it is supposed to do; protect your teeth. But as you will see, the mechanism by which it protects your teeth is simply a remix of what Nature already created.

Fluoride Remineralization Copies Natural Remineralization

When you go to the dentist, he or she actually has a plan to remineralize your teeth. They are just going to take the well known mineralization system used by your body and modify it slightly by inserting fluoride into the mineral composition. The body is using the nurturing tooth bathing liquid known as saliva to maintain a good environment. In an entirely normal process wherein the tooth's enamel decays slightly due to acidity or pH level, the body steps in and helps form a new mineral structure called hydroxyapatite 9). The mineral structure is mostly calcium and phosphate. Although when the dentist introduces fluoride to the mix, your body accepts it and creates a different mineral structure, fluorapatite. In the process of using fluoride, your dentist is incorporating a nonessential element into your skeletal system for strengthening purposes. By most accounts, this practice works. Why don't we endorse it completely here?

If The Risks Outweigh the Benefits...

Fluoride is a number of things, but an essential mineral it is not. For some time, the United States deemed fluoride necessary but this was slowly dropped from the memes of dentists. It comes to us in a number of forms. Sodium fluoride, chemically NaF, is found in our tooth pastes. Calcium fluoride and Fluorosilicic acid are more commonly found added to our drinking water. Herein is where we find a number of problems.

Fluoridation of the drinking water is a medical application of a drug to all citizens irrespective of diet, age, gender, size, and existing medical conditions. It makes no sense to put fluoride in the drinking water and try to establish a “safe dose” when you have no idea how much water they are consuming from the tap. Especially considering that fluoride increases in concentration with water that is boiled for soups and other cooking methods, its very possible someone drinking all of their drinking water from the tap and gets fluoride from the tap water used for soups and stews. This can lead to the ingestion of too much fluoride. Not to mention the mouth rinse, the flouridated salts, the flouridated toothpaste, and fluoride treatments at the dentist. You know they can provide fluoride in a pill, right?

What is the concern with too much fluoride? Well, for starters we have ample evidence that fluoride accumulates in the body. Too much fluoride shows up in the skeleton and despite the apparent research of fluoride making the mineral structure stronger than before in teeth, the same does not apply to the rest of skeleton, producing skeletal fluorosis 10). Indeed, even too much fluoride directly on the tooth can lead to dental fluorosis that makes the teeth less healthy than before.

The pineal gland is also host to fluoride accumulation. Incredibly, the medical community believes the calcification of the pineal gland is a normal process 11). Calcification in soft tissue is not a normal activity but the medical establishment has taken what is seen throughout the population as normal because it is a typical condition, when in reality our pineal glands are meant to function fully without calcification. Can you contemplate an organ that has a design and a function…and then can you imagine that function being impeded by calcification and calling that normal? Just because the calcification of the pineal gland does not kill or cause us severe injury does not prove calcification is “normal”.

While the above two popularly known, there are also a host of side diseases and syndromes to worry about with over use of fluoride in our bodies, including but not limited to, arthitis, skeletal weakness, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, endocrine disruption, kidney disease, and more 12).

The case can me made 100% for a cessation of public water fluoridation. This is not the aim of the article but the information contained in that argument is cause for enough concern that we do not suggest liberal use of fluoride in your dental care. Having a doctor apply fluoride sounds perfectly reasonable and not overdone. Do you need to use fluoride in your toothpaste twice a day? This is the substance that should you swallow the toothpaste, you should call the poison control center immediately. Fluoride is used as a rodent poison in other applications.13) Because of the unintelligent management of fluoride we suggest instead non fluoride ways of brushing your teeth. No, a more flexitarian approach will be called for that does not cast a blanket statement either way about fluoride. Let's get to the full flexitarian position that incorporates fluoride but opens the door to many different aspects of healthy teeth.

What A Flexitarian Does For Keeping Teeth Healthy

The most important part of keeping your teeth free and clear of cavities is to hone in on the mechanism that prevents cavities in the first place; your bodies remineralization process.

Wait, what about teeth brushing?

Think of it this way. If you had to dig out a hole, 10 feet by 10 feet every day and that hole was constantly having new dirt added to it, you would have one long and tedious task ahead of you. Your method of digging out the hole would be crucial to you accomplishing your goal. Simply manually using your own back muscles to constantly remove the dirt is not a long term solution. We would say that solution caters to the problem, or the symptom, and not the core issue. If instead, you used the automated digger that sat right next to the hole, you could save your body's energy from all of that work by using automation. Right now the digger is out of gas so its not running. A sane person would put down that shovel and go get some damn gasoline. The option of using a tool for what its made for **without effort** is obviously better than manually attempting to do something. Even as more dirt came in, your digger would take care of it, so long as it had the fuel it needed to do the job. In this scenario, the digger is like your body's remineralizing mechanism. It's automatic. You don't have to do anything except make sure the mechanism has all it needs to get moving.

To provide the necessary fuel for your remineralizing mechanism, you would eat a diet of mostly consisting of vegetables, low sugar fruit, meat, and properly prepared grains, nuts and seeds.

What do we means by properly prepared grains, nuts, and seeds? Each of those things contain “anti nutrients”, or molecules that act to bind minerals as they are being digested in our GI tract. They bind the minerals and we don't get them. Considering you need a bevvy of minerals for bone remineralization, not just calcium, but magnesium, phosphorous, and the rest of them, you would be wise to consider preparing these foods properly by soaking them or applying a fermentation process to them.

Soaking nuts and seeds can mitigate the phytic acid in those foods, which bind minerals.

If you get your bread as a sourdough, that dough was soaked in a specially cultured liquid that lessens the anti nutrient effect of wheat on your body. This way you can get your source of grains into your diet without it harming your system.

Meats, especially organ meats, provide protein and minerals necessary for remineralization. It would be difficult to eat a tooth healthy diet without eating meat, but at the same time you do not want to overdo it. Eating too much meat with vegetables, fruits, and grains falling by the wayside can lead to other health side effects.

Dairy is left out of the equation, with one exception. If you can consume raw, fermented dairy, then it is allowed in the diet as a healthy source of minerals and protein. Again, fermentation allows the nutrients in the dairy to be much more accessible than regular dairy. Since so few people consume raw, cultured dairy, we leave it off the menu with an asterisk. Set the bar high!

Whiten Your Teeth and Fight Bacteria

First, mouthwash can be a fun thing for kids and it should be encouraged. Mouth also does not need to have fluoride to be a good mouthwash. You could use coconut oil as a mouthwash. In a practice called oil pulling coming from Ayurvedic India, you swish coconut oil around and let the oil pull through your teeth for 5-10 minutes. The perfect time is to begin swishing before getting into the shower and swish during the entire shower without speaking it out until you are back at the sink. It whitens your teeth considerably if you are persistent. Not only that, coconut oil has antibacterial properties and can make your mouth a healthier place 14).

Every once in a blue moon I brush my teeth with charcoal or baking soda. Charcoal can do wonder for dirty teeth much faster, but both can whiten and clean your teeth.

Remineralizing From The Inside Out

Almost nobody knows and utilizes the knolwedge that teeth can repair from the outside, you can create a tooth powder full of benecial finely ground herbs and minerals that function like tooth paste; they clean your teeth and help them grow! If you add coconut oil to the mix you can transform the poweder into “paste”. There are a few different recipes out there, and I encourage you to explore and try them all. Most include calcium and magnesium powder, some baking soda or bentonite clay, and then a few herbs like clove and spearmint 15) 16) 17) 18). The calcium and magnesium powder is probably the most important in terms of aiding remineralization. Calcium, as you read earlier, is the main component of hydroxyapatite, the mineral that is formed with the enamel naturally 19). Around half of the magnesium present in your body is stored within the bones 20).

You can create a tootpaste that cleans your teeth AND provides the materials it needs to remineralize. That means where bacteria and erosion (for lack of a better term) have succeeded can be reversed. But you have to feed it what it needs in order for this to work.

It goes without saying that if bones, like teeth, appreciate the occasional miture of minerals necessary for their maintenance, they love it when it comes from within. If you can foods high in Vitamins A, D, E, and K, along with foods high in bone minerals like calcium and magnesium, then your body will assimilate those minerals to the bones 21). Foods like spinach, sweet potatoes, organ meats, bone broth, moringa, and leafy green vegetables contain a number of the above mentioned nutrients in substantial qualities.

A steady diet that keeps these nutrients at a high intake will greatly increase your body's capacity to grow bone from within. If there are weaknesses in the enamel structure, the body has the mechanism for repairing those weaknesses. You need to give it the tools to do it's job. You can learn not to rely on your dentist cleanings twice a year if you learn how to heal your teeth. It's that simple.

Floss Is Still The Boss

Floss rarely contains fluoride and nobody denies the necessity of cleaning between our teeth. Therefore, it is something both sides can agree on…so you can be pretty sure it stands on solid ground. You can feel free to explore other ways to supplement this cleaning; water pics are a fancy and expensive option. Oil pulling helps in this realm but it does not replace flossing.

A full Spectrum Approach

Why do you have to chose between the fluoride cheerleaders and the fluoride naysayers? The reality is you don't. Despite water fluoridation, which should be halted purely on the grounds that it is medication without consent, fluoride is not TERRIBLE until higher doses are seen. If you are careful about how much fluoride you expose yourself to, there is no shame in having a dentist do a cleaning and fluoride treatment every now and then. Nor is there a problem with rotating your tooth brushing systems to incorporate some tooth powder, a fluoride based paste, and baking soda. In most aspects of our health and nutrition, when we have a wide variety of sources supplying us with helpful things, our health is strong. Using a multi tiered approach to dental care can be seen in the same way.

The following article was an example of exploring a topic with two clearly oppositional sides; dentists who love fluoride and conspiracy theorists who avoid it like the plague. If you have been following the Third Way articles, you know that people often get caught in a False Dilemma fallacy where someone presents only two choices on an issue that contain more than just those two. Don't get caught up choosing the “right” side. Honestly investigate the microarguments that make up each side and where there is truth, you need to make room in your reality for that truth. Some of the fluoride opponents bring up valid concerns about overuse and its propensity to accumulate in the human body. That is a fact you cannot ignore. Fluoride proponents correctly point out that the body does take in Fluoride in a process of remineralization simliar to natures and it appears to harden teeth. This is a fact you cannot ignore. Facts don't have to lead towards a side you are choosing, they have to lead to the best position to take, which will probably not be on one of the two sides presented. Use your brain and understand how to make decisions for yourself that are based in reality and not the talking points of others. Your ability to think for yourself will create the third and fourth and fifth options not being presented to you.

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