Nothing evokes mortal fear like the sound of a dentist’s drill. The thought of a cavity and having it filled are never pleasant. But some natural preventive care can reduce the damage caused to your teeth and even help you avoid cavities in the first place.
What Causes Cavities?
Human teeth are actually layers of extremely hard tissue embedded in the gums. Once bacteria break down the outermost enamel and the next layer, dentin, through acids they create from food sugars, a cavity is born.1 And while we have been conditioned to believe that it’s hard to fix damaged teeth, this isn’t entirely true. The key is intervening at the right time so you prevent the decay of the teeth from growing. Better yet, try and avoid getting them in the first place.
Natural Ways To Reduce Cavities
A cavity is a painful problem that you need to address with a filling, root canal treatment, or an extraction of your entire tooth if things get out of hand. But don’t despair yet! Before a cavity sets in permanently, take these simple steps to arrest the damage to your teeth enamel. If you intervene at the right time, you can even reduce some of this decay.
id="oil-pulling">1. Oil Pulling
Oil pulling is a very effective Ayurvedic technique to help keep your teeth in good condition. It involves swishing a tablespoon of oil in your mouth for about 20 minutes. Sesame oil is preferred, but you can also try coconut or sunflower oil. When done on an empty stomach this process pulls out all toxins in the body and improves oral health. This, in turn, helps if you’re trying to avoid a cavity or prevent one from getting worse.2
2. Tooth-Friendly Diet
Many practitioners confirm that dental health is totally under our control through the food we eat and its nutritional value.3 For healthy teeth and bones, we need a diet rich in fat-soluble vitamins and minerals. So eat plenty of calcium- and vitamin D-rich food like seafood, dairy, fortified foods, soy, and green leafy vegetables to help make your teeth stronger. As one study showed, diet can make a considerable difference. A group of children with caries was given a cereal-free, vitamin D- and calcium-rich diet for 6 months. The formation and spread of active caries were significantly reduced by this diet – high in nutrients and low in processed food.4
id="foods-recommended-by-ayurveda">3. Foods Recommended By Ayurveda
Mustard as a food ingredient and as a cooking oil is recommended by Ayurveda for its oral cavity healing properties.5. Similarly, amla and licorice rebuild oral health and promote anti-cavity actions. Include them in your diet for a natural way to strengthen your teeth and keep them cavity-free.
id="alkaline-foods">4. Alkaline Foods
Neutralizing the acidic nature of saliva can prevent the erosion of our teeth. Scientific work on dental films clearly indicates that oral alkali production can be very effective in managing caries. It directly increases the pH value of dental plaque, causing it to work toward remineralization and away from decay. An alkaline environment is also preferred by “good” bacteria and it suppresses the growth of cariogenic bacteria, that is, tooth decay-causing bacteria.6 The trick is to up alkali levels to compensate for the erosive acidic nature of digestive acids. How can you do this? By consuming more alkaline foods like cruciferous vegetables, green leafy vegetables, cayenne peppers, and garlic.7
Vitamin D produced by exposing your body to direct sunlight induces cathelicidin, an antimicrobial peptide. This counters oral bacteria linked to dental caries.8 Get your daily dose of sunshine to keep the bad bacteria at bay.
6. The Fluoride Option
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, one way to reverse enamel decay is to use fluoride. It blocks the loss of minerals from your enamel and thwarts attempts by bacteria to generate that cavity-causing acid. Fluoride may even help by replacing some of that lost mineral content.9 According to the Institute, fluoride in your water supply should be able to help. But those prone to cavities can also try a fluoride toothpaste/mouth rinse and a fluoride varnish. However, due to the intense controversy and (unresolved) debate around fluoride usage, whether or not you would try this remains a personal choice. In short, preventive care may be your best bet if you’re unsure about which side you’re on in the fluoride debate.
Frequent exposure to sugar-rich foods enables bacteria to use them to create more acid, leaching tooth enamel of its minerals and hastening decay.10 So, by changing your diet, you can stall the problem or prevent further cavities from developing. Here’s how:
- Go easy on sweets, candy, and chocolate.
- Avoid foods with hidden sugars like processed foods and packaged snacks.
- Cut down on fruit juice – it’s rich in sugar too.
- Stay off the soda. A 12-ounce serving contains anywhere from 12 to 40 grams of sugar on an average.11
Remember, if a cavity has already struck, a trip to the dentist may not be avoidable. But you can limit the damage by following these simple steps and paying a little extra attention to your pearly whites.
|↑1||The Tooth Decay Process: How to Reverse It and Avoid a Cavity. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.|
|↑2||Singh, Abhinav, and Bharathi Purohit. “Tooth brushing, oil pulling and tissue regeneration: A review of holistic approaches to oral health.” Journal of Ayurveda and integrative medicine 2, no. 2 (2011): 64.|
|↑3||Nagel, Ramiel. Cure Tooth Decay: Remineralize Cavities and Repair Your Teeth Naturally with Good Food. Rami Nagel, 2012.|
|↑4||Mellanby, May, and C. Lee Pattison. “Remarks on the influence of a cereal-free diet rich in vitamin D and calcium on dental caries in children.” British medical journal 1, no. 3715 (1932): 507.|
|↑5||Ram Manohar, P., Reshmi Pushpan, and S. Rohini. “Mustard and its uses in Ayurveda.” Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge 8, no. 3 (2009): 400-404.|
|↑6||Liu, Ya-Ling, Marcelle Nascimento, and Robert A. Burne. “Progress toward understanding the contribution of alkali generation in dental biofilms to inhibition of dental caries.” International journal of oral science 4, no. 3 (2012): 135-140.|
|↑7||Burne, Robert A., and Robert E. Marquis. “Alkali production by oral bacteria and protection against dental caries.” FEMS microbiology letters 193, no. 1 (2000): 1-6.|
|↑8||Grant, William B. “A review of the role of solar ultraviolet-B irradiance and vitamin D in reducing risk of dental caries.” Dermato-endocrinology 3, no. 3 (2011): 193-198.|
|↑9||The Tooth Decay Process: How to Reverse It and Avoid a Cavity. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.|
|↑10||The Tooth Decay Process: How to Reverse It and Avoid a Cavity. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.|
|↑11||How sweet is it?. Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.|