Months ago, I read In Defense of Food, a great, no-nonsense book on food by Michael Pollan; this magnificently written book mentions what should be obvious: eat (real) food, in moderation, mostly vegetables.
If you do that and exercise regularly, you’ll be in better shape than 99% of the human population, and will never need the newest fad diet from a useless, overpriced health magazine.
What Pollan also mentions in the above book is oral health; he correctly identifies two schools of thought on the subject; the food theory, firstly introduced by dentist Weston Price in his landmark book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, and the bacterial theory, advanced by most dentists today, and given a new twist in the book Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye by British dentist Ellie Phillips.
According to Price’s must-read book, what causes cavities is the prevalence of bad food in one’s diet. Price was a Philadelphia dentist who traveled the world in the 1920’s and studied the diet of peoples around the world, before and after they were touched by Western civilization and modern, processed foods. He found that, regardless of the differences in local diets, and in spite of the fact that some (if not most) of these people never brushed their teeth, their oral health was astounding; once, however, some of them moved to the civilized world, their oral health quickly deteriorated.
For those in the civilized world who want excellent oral health, Price recommends whole, healthy foods like freshly-ground wheat, fermented food, raw dairy staples like milk, butter, yogurt, kefir, raw cod liver oil, red meat, fish, lots of vegetables, and plenty of sun exposure.
According to the prevalent bacterial theory, on the other hand, dental caries are caused by the prevalence of certain types of tooth-damaging bacteria in your mouth. What you eat does not matter much, unless it’s foods that keep your mouth in an acidic state, where bad bacteria thrive. Usual suspects are highly acidic foods like regular table sugar, sodas, fruit juices, a dry mouth, etc. Once you get cavities, there’s not much you can do, except going to the dentist for a filling, a crown, or an extraction. That always seemed a little barbaric to me.
This is where dentist Ellie Phillips comes in. She subscribes to the bacterial theory, but also states that cavities can be reversed and healed naturally. She’s a big proponent of the daily use of 5 grams of xylitol, the natural sugar (our body produces 15 grams of it a day) that starves cavity-causing bacteria.
She also proposes a tooth-brushing system that seems obvious, once you read it, yet are almost never applied. For example, she stresses that toothbrushes should never be kept in the bathroom, where moisture and the plume released by toilet flushing are extremely fertile ground for bad bacteria (besides being just gross); she also mentions other practices that make her book a must read.
Finally, at the end of her book, she outlines the tooth-cleaning system used for decades by her, her entire family, friends, and clients with excellent results. The system can be summarized like this:
- Rinse with Closys mouthwash for one minute
- Brush with Crest regular anti cavity toothpaste for two minutes
- With the Crest toothpaste still in your mouth, rinse with basic Listerine Original Antiseptic mouthwash for 30 seconds
- Finally rinse with Act regular fluoride mouthwash for a minute
Dr. Phillips goes to extreme lengths in her book and blog to explain why she recommends these specific products in this exact sequence. Her blog is worth subscribing to.
At the end of the brushing sessions (twice a day, morning and evening), sanitize your toothbrush by either bathing it in Listerine for 30 seconds and then drying it in the sun or (my way) by using a toothbrush sanitizer. Never store your toothbrush in the bathroom.
My family and I subscribe to both theories; we eat healthy, raw and unprocessed foods; we also use Dr. Phillips’s oral health system. We have excellent oral health. Before switching to this combined system a few years ago, my dentist hand found an abscess in my mouth that he wanted to cure with a root canal. I postponed, started implementing the two above systems, and went back to the dentist four months later, The abscess was gone. Never had any problems ever since.