When the Americas were being explored in the early 1500s, many explorers noted that the “Indians” had “perfect rows of teeth, like the keys on a piano.” This was unusual for the Europeans to see at that time, because they expected to lose most of their teeth in their 30s.
Centuries later, in the 1930s, a dentist named Westin Price set out to study teeth in various areas of the world. He went to Europe, Africa, Asia, North, and South America to look at the teeth of indigenous people. He was shocked by what he found. He came to the conclusion that dental health was intricately intertwined with the health of the body, and especially the diet. Where people ate whole, unprocessed foods they had good dentition, but where processed foods were eaten they had poor dentition – even among the same populations.
Today, we are told that we need “dental hygiene” to have good teeth. We go to the dentist regularly to have them look for decay and inflammation. We get braces put on our teeth to straighten them. While it is important to practice keeping the teeth clean, it is more important to keep the body naturally healthy. Multiple studies now show that poor dentition, gum disease, and poor oral health even contribute to heart disease.
A good dentist should be able to look in your mouth and tell you some of the nutrients you may be lacking. For example, gingivitis is more tied to Co-Q10 and folic acid levels than to brushing and flossing. The salivary pH will help to know if the diet is good for maintaining good teeth, as well.
Feed the good, starve the bad
Bacteria growing in your mouth are a very important part of dental health. One common bacterium, Streptococcus mutans, uses sucrose (sugar) to make the plaque that builds up on the teeth, allowing acids to disintegrate the enamel. If you feed those bacteria, you get more of them, more plaque, and more tooth decay. This is why avoiding processed sugars is essential.
On the other hand, the good, natural and healthy bacteria in your mouth live on inulin, fructooligosaccharide, and other soluble fiber found in fruit and vegetables.
Normalize the pH
It is also important for the saliva to be in a neutral or slightly basic pH. If the saliva is acid, calcium will be leached out of the teeth over time and contribute to tooth decay. When the cause of scurvy was discovered in the 1700’s, the British navy required all ships to have lime juice on board and all sailors were given some every day. While this practice prevented thousands of deaths from vitamin C deficiency, it had the side-effect of leaching the calcium out of the sailors’ teeth and promoting tooth decay. Acid is not friendly to teeth.
Eating to improve your dental health
Based on the findings of Dr. Price, the Westin Price Foundation has promoted the idea of natural healthy eating in order to create and promote good dental health. It begins in the womb, before a child is even conceived. A mother who eats a healthy diet will allow her baby to develop normal bone structure which brings in its wake healthy, straight teeth.
Moreover, those who are already born, and even older people who have lost their teeth will benefit from these guidelines, both in a healthier mouth and a healthier body. The list is long, but should be studied and implemented gradually over time. The following are taken from the Westin Price Foundation.