After the birth of my son, at the age of 31, I got my first cavity. Not bad, I thought, to make it three decades without any dental decay! I got the cavity filled, and didn't think much of it. Three and a half years passed, and my daughter was born. Low and behold, another cavity in the same tooth! This time, the dentist reported that I would probably need a root canal. YIKES!?!
After thirty-some years of taking good teeth for granted, I suddenly became very interested in my chompers.
How do teeth fit into the big picture of my body and overall health and wellness?
Why did I get cavities after birthing my babies?
Was a root canal really the only solution?
That's when I discovered the world of holistic dentistry and the book Curing Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nagel.
I was lucky enough to find a great, skilled dentist who did a special filling that did not require drilling away as much tooth plus ozone therapy that reduced the likelihood of a root canal in the future. I set about to change my diet to one that promotes remineralization of teeth and bones.
This meant cutting way back on sugar and refined carbohydrates because too much sugar disrupts calcium and phosphorus ratios in the body leading to tooth decay.
I also learned that it is important to reduce grain consumption and prepare any grains I did eat via soaking, sprouting, or souring. This reduces the anti-nutrient, phytic acid which blocks mineral absorption in the body leading to weak bones and teeth.
Most importantly, I began to include nutrient-dense foods. These foods are rich sources of animal fats, fat-soluble vitamins, and essential minerals and as such help protect, strengthen, and actually rebuild teeth. Some of these foods I was happy to eat (clams, butter, cream, and rich stocks) and others required mustering up a bit more sense of adventure (organ meats, eew). Here are my…
Five favorite super foods for strong and healthy teeth:
#1 – Bone broth
Though it may sound a bit barbaric, bone broth is simply a broth made from bones and leftover meat. It's the perfect base to the universal superfood, grandma's chicken soup.
You can make bone broth from beef, lamb, pork, or fish too (the latter being especially good for teeth). Unlike the canned or cartoned varieties of store bought stock, homemade broth is loaded with minerals, gelatin, and collagen all necessary for strong teeth, bones, hair, and nails. Bone broth is a digestive elixir that nurses the weak and gives superpowers to the strong.
Make a big pot at one time and freeze by the quart or in ice cube trays. You can use it for quick soups and savory stews, pour it over meals in gravy, drink it warm or cold, or use it instead of water to cook your properly prepared grains or beans. Get my favorite chicken bone broth recipe here.
Don't want to make your own? Buy bone broth online here. If you live in LA, you can have wonderful bone broth delivered to your door from Real Food Devotee. Easy-peasy.
#2 – Raw dairy
Just like mama said, “Drink your milk to grow big and strong.”
But with a two caveats: Choose raw dairy (not pasteurized or homogenized) and make sure it comes from cows grazing grass out on pasture.
Raw milk, cream, butter, cheese, yogurt, etc will be loaded with calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K2, and other important nutrients, and since it is not pasteurized, the body will be able to assimilate those nutrients with ease. For extra healing power for your teeth as well as the rest of your body, take a High Vitamin Butter Oil supplement.
#3 – Liver
I had a big mental block about this one at first, but Ramiel Nagel points out that the healthiest people consumed the whole animals – organs and all – not only the breast, flank, or leg meat.
The all-important fat-soluble vitamins are found in the fat and organ meats, so I worked up my courage and started experimenting beyond ground beef, chicken breasts, and steaks. One of the most nutrient dense foods on earth, liver from healthy animals provides us with more fat-soluble vitamins A and D than any other food.
Vitamin A is a potent antioxidant that will prevent gum disease and reduce the likelihood of dental decay. Vitamin A from fruits and vegetables does not work in the same way the type of Vitamin A in animal sources. Vitamin D is also important for a strong immune system, but also increases the body's ability to calcify and mineralize the teeth and bones.
Liver and onions, liverwurst, chicken liver pate, fois gras… We like to make burgers with ground liver and heart mixed in. They are absolutely delicious! Here are my four favorite ways to eat liver.
If none of these foods are in your dietary realm of possibility right now, start with a cod liver oil supplement and desiccated liver pills.
My kids gleefully take their FCLO liquid mixed with elderberry syrup (which is essentially like a spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down). Good quality cod liver oil provides essential omega 3 fatty acids as well as vitamins A and D, and is a supplement that would benefit nearly everyone to take whether or not you have liver on your plate.
Get minimally processed cod liver oil here.
Get desiccated liver pills from pastured beef here.
#4 – Shellfish
Clams, mussels, oysters are an easy way to eat “the whole animal” to benefit from the fat soluble vitamins as well the important cholesterol, fats, calcium, and trace minerals.
Shellfish commonly appear on the menu at restaurants and are super easy to make at home. (We like our clams steamed with white wine, garlic, and lots of butter).
Eat them raw if you like them that way. I found that after thirty-some years of rejecting raw oysters, my palate has changed and they are now a favorite. Be sure to buy sustainable sources that come from clean waters.
#5 – Bone marrow
This may seem like something that you never really want to eat, but OMG is this stuff amazing. More and more often I'm seeing bone marrow appear on restaurant menus, and once you taste bone marrow spread on crusty bread, it will appear in your dreams too.
Eating marrow, “even on occasion will strengthen your body's resilience against cavities,” say Nagel since it contains “important bone-building cells that help rejuvenate bone and promote bone growth.”
Well, I would take marrow over cake any day, and that says a lot.
What I do at home
Personally, I try to take my cod liver oil and high vitamin butter oil every other day and double up on the dose since the fat soluble vitamins are stored by the body.
I drink some raw milk or cream and eat raw cheese or yogurt daily.
Liver and shellfish usually make an appearance in my diet about once a week and bone broth 1-3 times (though leftovers may stretch this out for days), and bone marrow is a special treat.
This list is not all-inclusive, just my favorite selection of nutrient dense foods that especially promote healthy teeth and bones.
Now that I eat this way, I really enjoy the “strange” foods in my diet and feel physically and emotionally better too. Time will tell if I'm destined for more cavities, but my teeth feel strong and less sensitive than before. My way not be the perfect regimen for you depending on your teeth and your overall health. You can read all about the nutrient dense diet for healing tooth decay in Ramiel Nagel's book, Curing Tooth Decay.
Bon appetite and big, healthy smiles!
Great post! I haven’t tried liver, but after reading that you mix it in with burgers… I could start there. I also keep reading about FCLO and really need to bit the bullet and get some. Tooth decay is where many other diseases start. Your teeth are so close to your brain and heart that any sort of decay or disease spread quickly to those areas and cause major damage. So here’s to good health via strong teeth 🙂
Christina – I mixed some beef liver with burger (both from the same cow from a local source) and it was really good!! My husband who claims he was afraid of liver even liked it…I loved the liver – but I could probably eat it plain! Give it a try! 🙂
Ann Marie says
I love your story!!! I found this diet not because of teeth (though now I am super excited knowing how much better our teeth will be!) but because my son stopped growing. GAPS, which is based on the Nourishing Traditions diet from Weston A. Price, has been a godsend and a pain in my butt! I’ve been amazed by how wonderfully different my son is 🙂 Being a vegetarian for 8 years I never would have imagined not only cooking liver, bone broth, goat milk kefir, homemade applesauce/ketchup/mayo, homemade nut breads, etc… but enjoying it and looking forward to eating it again!!
Thanks for sharing Roxanna, and glad to hear your kiddo is thriving. I first found WAP when I was pregnant with my first and was repulsed by all things with additives. I found myself simmering bones in my kitchen and spreading cultured butter on everything. The teeth thing, though, has been what’s taken it too a whole new level for me with the liver, marrow, lard, and other “strange” animal parts. I love sharing this fun adventure with you, even if from afar!
Great post! I too have been including bone broths and raw dairy into my diet. I get great bones from the grass fed beef folks at the farmers market. I would love to have a Canyon Mama’s food Co-op where we all divided up the different recipes and food and share them with each other.
Thanks, Mari, and great idea! I would love to see you and that gorgeous bundle of yours. Playdate/tea?
In your bone broth section you say broth contains gelatin as well as collagen. This is a misunderstanding since gelatin and collagen are the same. It is collagen in your body, or any animals body, but gelatin when hydrolyzed and cleaned into small particles. What you could include is glycosaminoglycans. That is, bone broth contains minerals, gelatin and glycosaminoglycans. The latter include substances like chondroitin and glucosamine, keratin and hyaluronic acid and more. These are also sold as food supplements for bone health as well as skin health. You may enjoy this article about bone broth and health – http://www.townsendletter.com/FebMarch2005/broth0205.htm
Have fun 🙂
Hi Peter! Thanks for the clarification – great information and very interesting bone broth article. 🙂
You’re welcome, and you may enjoy these as well –
Have fun 🙂
Ester Perez says
I wanted to get your thoughts on a cavity issue I have had with my children. We began Ramiel Nagels protocal and my daughters teeth began to remineralize, but then, she began to get severely constipated, only having 2-3 bowel movements a week. I am an Iridologist and in my reading, her blood and lymph became highly congested. So she ate mostly raw for a month to cleanse and she is now having regular bowel movements, plus taking digestive enzymes, but now, her teeth are starting to decay again. Oh my, the frustration. She continued taking cod liver oil and raw butter during the last month, but it was not enough. Now I am adding back broths, pastured eggs, raw homemade kefir into her diet plus taking enzymes to help with digestion. I am hoping her teeth will continue to remineralize. It has been tricky due to her poor digestion. I have a very poor digestion too and benefited from a 30 day cleanse, but I am now back to rebuilding with high quality fats.
What is your opinion on getting her teeth strong with her digestive issues. She is 4 1/2 years old. Also, my son has one small cavity and is already showing decay on a molar. We do not eat refined sugars and eat low glycemic fruits. We are gluten free and have been working on keeping grains to a minimum. I sprout everything. I just read that the Mother can pass bacteria to her children from sharing spoons and be the cause of the childrens cavities. Have you heard of this??? I wonder if it is the case with us… Blessings, Ester
Have you considered trying the GAPS diet for you and your kids? It sounds as though your daughter’s digestive imbalance would benefit from this protocol that restores healthy gut flora and heals digestive weakness/allergies/etc. This would be a good stepping stone into the Cure Tooth Decay foods. If you’re not familiar with GAPS, I think you’ll find it very interesting. Let me know how it goes!
You may want to try eliminating the kefir for a while. I have not only heard, but have experienced that it can cause constipation. It can be mucus forming. I know it is wonderful as a probiotic, but if you find that eliminating it helps, that would be a plus.
Jan AmRhein says
consider magnesium to balance all that calcium. Calcium constipates. Magnesium does the opposite.
When I read the GAPS diet, I felt she was writing the book just for us. So I tried to implement the GAPS diet a few months ago for all of us but she refused any of the stocks. Then, we did the raw cleanse. I started making stocks again and I am going to sneak them into her favorite soup. Today I made a delicious Nourishing Traditions meal and she turned it away. The rest of my family loves it, but its challenging with her. I will continue to persist. I will make the coconut bread today which she loves made with eggs and coconut flour. She loves raw cheese, hopefully with the help of the enzymes, she will have regular bowel movements. Its very tricky with her but I know we will get it right soon. Thanks for your reply.
Natasha Campbell-McBride actually say that picky eating is usually a sign of GAPS. Transitioning a picky eater can definitely be tough, but a kid can’t eat what you don’t have, so it may help to purge your kitchen of anything you don’t want your daughter to eat. In the short term she may be miserable and hungry, but eventually she will eat what you are offering. We had to do this with my son when he was about 3 – we had gotten lazy because he had always been such a good eater, but gradually would only eat the typical kid convenience foods – pasta, peanut butter and jelly, etc. Now he eats about 75% of what I offer.
Broth can be challenging. One option is to try giving it to her in a large medicine dropper throughout the day. Many kids (including mine) think medicine droppers are fun. Jello is another great kid friendly way to have gelatin/bone broth too. You could probably do a GAPS friendly version with hibiscus tea and a little honey.
Ester Perez says
You have inspired me and I have decided to start the GAPS diet. Yes, I will be removing all non-GAPS friendly food from the home tomorrow. That is a very good idea. I have lots of shopping to do too. One question I have is since she has lots of cavities, should I remove or just limit honey and fruits. I know Dr. Campbell says that the fruit helps to remove toxins out of the body, but Ramiel Nagel says to limit fruits. We have been already limiting fruits so I think the real problem lies in the digestive tract.
Also, after reading her book I discovered the answer to a question I have had for over 20 years. I get a runny nose every time I eat. After reading her book, I discovered it is due to a lack of good microflora in the ears, nose, mouth and throat. What an amazing discovery. I am now putting drops of whey in my ears and having a spoon of cultured veggies before going to bed. I will try the bone/broth jello. That sounds great! Do you have a recipe??? Thanks. Ester
Hi Ester – Hope your GAPS adventure is going well. Here’s a recipe for the jello: http://www.holistickid.com/finger-jello-a-wiggly-jiggly-nutrient-dense-food/
I had something quite similar happen – With my first I had a filling, then with the second, I had that filling turn into needed a root canal…yuck. But – I grind my teeth something terrible, i’ve always been warned by the dentists that if I kept it up and kept spitting out my mouthgaurd at night that I’d break a tooth – that’s what happened with the filling.
I eat liver, broths, bi-valves, shellfish and take CLO – I have Celiac Disease, I’ve done GAPS, I’m quite healthy and soak the remaining “grains” I do eat, and don’t eat them too often, more of a fish, beef, veggie and fruit kinda gal,
I’m having another baby soon – we’ll see how we go….
Allison – Have your teeth improved since eating this way?
I really need to get this book. I have battled with my teeth forever but it had a lot to do with the garbage I was eating before I discovered WAPF. I just wanted to mention to anyone who hates liver (including me) that I take dessicated liver capsules every day. Its just freeze dried liver. Perfectly acceptable. I hope someday that I can find a type of liver that I can eat but until then I’m taking my liver capsules!!! I also started oil pulling. Its a pain in the tush but WOW, my breath is improving and my bleeding gums are improving!!!
Thanks for sharing, Molly. Cure Tooth Decay really is worth every cent. Have you tried adding some ground liver to ground beef in a tomato sauce? This is the easiest way for my family to eat it. Here are some more ideas: http://holisticsquid.com/my-4-favorite-ways-to-eat-liver/
Emily – I’m not really sure…I don’t think it is a very “controlled” experiment. We’ll wait until 2014 and see if I have another cavity. I never had one before I was in my 30s…for the most part, except for a few years in my late teens and early 20s, I’ve always eaten well…who knows?
Will this help a child’s gums? My son has braces & his gums are swollen & sensitive. I don’t know what to do to help them heal & they are in danger of growing over his brackets. I don’t think this is just an issue of not brushing or floshing.
Yes, I would absolutely implement this diet for all children to support the development of healthy teeth and bones. As for the inflammation, I would be sure to include foods for him that will reduce inflammation – like fermented cod liver oil; probiotics to ensure his body has strong beneficial bacteria to fight infection; and avoid junk foods which will exacerbate inflammation.
I got my first cavity when I was pregnant too! I was so disappointed and it made me feel gross. I have been delaying getting it filled; I have read several places of people recommending this book. My only problem is that I assume it is mostly based on diet, and I’m afraid that my cavity will get worse before I have time to make all these dietary changes. It may sound like a silly excuse, but we are living with my in-laws until we close on our house in October, and there’s just no room in the fridge or kitchen for very much food!
5. Bone Marrow – This may seem like something that you never really want to eat, but OMG is this stuff amazing. More and more often I’m seeing bone marrow appear on restaurant menus, and once you taste bone marrow spread on crusty bread, it will appear in your dreams too. Eating marrow, â€œeven on occasion will strengthen your body’s resilience against cavities,â€ say Nagel since it contains â€œimportant bone-building cells that help rejunenate bone and promote bone growth.â€ Well, I would take marrow over cake any day, and that says a lot.
Change “rejunenate” to rejuvenate 🙂
So maybe back around 5 or 6 yrs old I just started eating marrow right from whatever bone I had. Chicken is the one I have most often but I love a good beef bone. Here’s the thing I’m 30 and as of this point I’ve never had a cavity or broken bone. Ok that’s fine but I play real rough, and I loveeee candy. At least 2 Big bags a week of sour patch kids since highschool. Cut down on the sugar as I got older but that’s only because well you have to eat healthier as you get older. However my point is I have eaten so much sweets there really is no way I just never got a single issue with my teeth like a cavity. But they are Perfectly straight perfectly white. I have always had exceptionally clean healthy looking nails, hair, and skin my hair grows so fast I get it cut once a week. No lie since grade school. Women walk up to me and say what beautiful nails you have for a boy, but these are man hands with blisters on my palms. Awesome nails though. And believe me its not genectics, i came from two nerds with nerd skin problems. Acne, eczema, glasses allergies. Its probably unrelated but i come from a family of large somewhat obese people. And for some reason im that dude who eats whatever and never gains. Like I said I’m 30 but I still get carded hard. Hard. They actually make me tell them what it says on my own license. It may sound like im bragging and i am. Because i have been sitting on this gem for years just totally reaping the Benny’s. I try and tell people about cartilage and marrow. Every time I get a funny look like I said the craziest thing. But I’m laughing my butt to great health that doesn’t cost me anything more than not throwing something into the trash and keeping an open mind. So give it a try, it actually tastes great. Do your research too its more common and scientifically proven than most americans know. Just never do it in public, oh god no not even worth that hassle of questions.
Bone marrow … never had it before! How do I prepare it? From Vince’s post, I’m assuming that either chicken or beef bones are good.
What about the collagen/ gelatin? Can you get that from the chicken and beef stocks? Any other sources.
Thanks for any tips!
Kris Tea says
Thanks so much for sharing! THAT was truly inspiring!
I’ve hear that if cod liver oil or fish oils smell/taste rancid, or taste like fish that it’s bad. I bought skate liver oil and just received it a few days ago. I’m not familiar with skate, the bottle I received does taste like fish. Is it bad or is that the nature of skate?
Hi Emily, I live in LA and would love to see your local resources, but I don’t see any on your links page. I’m especially interested in finding a good holistic dentist, as I’m looking for someone to replace my fillings, which contain mercury. I’d appreciate any recommendations! Love your blog!
Hi Ginny – Thanks for your question. Here are some resources that I’ve used myself. Hope this helps!
I set up a consultation with Dr. Sperbeck about having my mercury fillings replaced and told them you referred me. Thanks so much Emily!
Marilyn Ciociola says
Where do you buy raw dairy and bone Marrow? I go to a whole foods health store and I will ask them but if you could tell me that would be great, thanks. I really was amazed at the information regarding teeth and bones. I need all the help I can get for my bones. Right now I have to drink lactose milk because regular milk is hard on my digestive track. Thanks for your help. Marilyn
Hi Marilyn – Thanks for your comment. I get my raw milk from Organic Pastures and bone marrow from Best Beef Ever. Hope that helps!
Hi, I enjoyed reading your website 🙂 it’s great. I’m glad you have found a way of eating that is benefiting your health and enjoyment of course!
I just wanted to say that I’ve been vegetarian for 14 years, it’s the best thing I ever did. I have regular checkups and my health is exemplary, extremely low cholesterol and I’ve never had a cavity or issues with teeth. I used to eat a lot of the animal and dairy foods you mention here, they didn’t have positive results on my health. I was only eating organic and unprocessed, avoided additives etc. It made me foggy headed, gave me high cholesterol, high blood pressure, a general feeling of being clogged, heavy, overweight, constipation, spotty skin and was hormonally imbalanced. I was exercising, doing yoga and aerobics. I did not do well on this kind of diet. As soon as I stopped eating meat and dairy my health dramatically changed for the positive.
I went to my doctor and saw a dietician, I was basically clogged up, even though I was fit and my diet was balanced, I wasn’t thriving. A vegetarian diet was suggested and was a very natural choice for me, it felt right in my heart too.
I thrive best on veggie/vegan diet, I have beautiful skin, hair, nails, teeth, look much younger for my age and don’t get any weight problems, naturally low blood pressure etc. I feel light, have loads of energy now, sleep great. It just fits for me.
I think you have to go with what works for your body. For me I’m a natural vegetarian. I love animals too, but thats a reason aside from health. I think everyone is different and not one size fits all – especially with diet.
I’m glad you have found a diet that fits; anyway it is lovely to meet you and share this, kind regards!
With love, all the way from a cold but very sunny England! x
Elizabeth Johnson says
What do you know about chromogenic bacteria? My 4 year old daughter has it on her teeth and they look green down around the gum line. I have researched it and have not found a cause, even the holistic dentist in my area says to just have a cleaning to get it off. I would like to find the cause of it. I have her oil pulling (which is kind of helping). I have been giving her kefir and some diatomaceous earth. I think it is a parasite in her gut. Maybe yeast? What are your thoughts??
Can you please tell us the name of the dentist you
Went to? Thank you so much!
Hi Marie – The dentists I go to are:
Glenn Sperbeck – http://www.dds4smiles.com/ (holistically minded but not WAPF)
Raymond Silkman – (Weston Price dentist, very expensive)
I’m just looking into the cure tooth decay book now as I have a daughter with very yellow teeth even though we eat a clean diet and low refined sugars, & also have good dental hygiene. We are gluten free and almost dairy free and I’m realizing now maybe she isn’t getting enough calcium. How much calcium should children have? Also, where are the best sources for it if you can’t purchase raw milk?
Just a thought, all of the suggested foods, except for the milk seem a little gross ha ha. I don’t doubt that they help with bone strenght, but do you have any ideas of how to work these things into other recipies? I think it is very important to take care of your teeth, for social reasons, and you always want to be able to eat.
Emily Bartlett says
Hi Yvon, thanks for your feedback. There are plenty recipes available here showing how to incorporate many of these items into real food. Hope this helps.
I think using MI Paste circumvents the need to add calcium to diet. It is a short cut to re-mineralize the teeth more quickly. This is the way I do it.
The best bone building supplement on the market is Jarrow Ultra Bone Up. Bio available silica is critical to creating fracture proof bones. MCHA calcium is best calcium. As far as phytates interfering with mineral absorption, it only has effects on current meal so eat any meal dominated by phytates separate for when you take minerals. Lectins can be toxic to body.
I found Biocell Hyaluronic Acid not only cured my herniated disc but regenerated my gums.
unsprouted and unfermented grain can cause problems. i found sourdough bread a good substitute for grains along with using only sprouted / fermented grains to remove toxins.
one more note. the biocell HA must be taking with cup of water and on empty stomach. healing time for gums may be 6 to 12 weeks. with hernaited disc it was 6 weeks.
My 2 year old has never eaten meat and can’t seem to stomach the taste. Even if I mix the marrow into mashed potatoes he won’t eat it. I tried mixing ground liver in with spaghetti and he literally gagged. I really need to get his teeth strong in a hurry. He has decay from the inside of the teeth and his enamel is flaking off. He’ll drink gelatin if I mix it into juice and has recently started to drink almost 3 cups of raw milk per day. He’s happy to take the CLO/HVBO/Skate oil mixed with yogurt and maple syrup. But he’ll only take the bone broth if I plop it into a bowl of rice – I know I’m supposed to steer clear of grains, but that’s the only way he’d take it, and I read in Cure Tooth Decay that white rice if fine in moderation. Can powdered bone marrow be taken in place of eating it fresh out of the bone? Does that even exist? I’ve heard of petrified liver, would that work the same way as fresh liver? Any advise is greatly appreciated, I’m desperately hoping to avoid extractions, he’s only 2.
Emily Bartlett says
You only need to avoid grains if they are problem for your baby’s immune system or gut. Some folks can tolerate them. Every one is different.
Powdered bone marrow DOES exist – you can get a high quality bone marrow supplement here.
And a bone calcium supplement here.
Also, make sure he’s getting enough vitamin D and vitamin K2. I really like this one from Thorne Research: http://holisticsquid.com/go/VitaminD/K2
Keep me updated with how things go! All the best,