by Dr. Mark Burhenne, DDS
When it comes to our health, we are getting much better at taking a more holistic approach. Many of us have overhauled our diets and implemented other lifestyle changes that have reduced the need to see a doctor regarding chronic health conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, adrenal fatigue and many others. While this is great news for our collective health, there is still room for improvement, as I believe that we tend to overlook the holistic options that are available when it comes to oral health.
We’ve been taught that at the first sign of a cavity or tooth decay, we should immediately run to our dentist for a filling. We’ve also been taught that there isn’t much you can do for a cavity once it started.
This is a mindset I’d really like to challenge.
In cases of small or superficial cavities, getting a filling could actually make matters worse. When you get a filling, a dentist is literally drilling into your tooth that he then fills with a synthetic substance — the drawbacks of which can be huge. As a result, fillings often damage your teeth on a deeper level than the cavity itself.
At the first sign of a cavity, I recommend using diet and supplementation to remineralize the tooth in question. This might sound like an oversimplified (or even impossible) approach to a complex and very serious problem, but I assure you that nutrition is the foundation of nearly all teeth problems, as well as the reversal of those problems.
Remineralization is a very effective process that your body naturally undertakes in order to keep your teeth healthy and strong. And just like any other process in your body, it needs the right nutrition to run smoothly.
Similar to other parts of our bodies, our teeth sometimes need an extra nutrient boost, and you might be surprised to hear this but there are certain supplements you can naturally help to remineralize your teeth.
Here are the top six supplements that may make your next filling completely unnecessary.
Top 6 Supplements to Help Remineralize Teeth
You’re probably not surprised to see calcium on this list. Generally, we associate calcium with healthy, strong bones. This is because calcium is the primary building block of our bones and teeth, and we also need it for proper teeth remineralization. (1)
But calcium is a finicky nutrient.
If you aren’t effectively absorbing calcium, it can be quickly rendered useless. Additionally, without also supplementing with certain other nutrients, calcium can easily run amuck and end up in the wrong places in your body. We need the right mineral combination — specifically vitamins D3 and K2 — to both absorb and direct calcium to its intended destination.
Recommendation: Take 1000 milligrams of calcium per day but ALONGSIDE the following supplements to help remineralize teeth.
2. Vitamin D3
Vitamin D is quite possibly one of the most important nutrients for overall health. Its name is misleading because vitamin D is actually more like a hormone than a vitamin, and because of this, there are receptors for vitamin D on every tissue and organ throughout your body.
When it comes to your teeth remineralization, specifically, this fat-soluble is needed for properly absorb calcium and balance minerals throughout the body. (2) These two processes are critical for the formation and repair of your bones and teeth. They’re also responsible for helping your teeth maintain their structure to last your entire life, if you take care of them.
About half the population is deficient in vitamin D, for many reasons, including the following: (3)
- We get less sunshine because we spend nearly all of our time indoors and we overuse sunscreen.
- We consume too much phytic acid, which interrupts vitamin D metabolism. Foods high in phytic acid include:
- Sesame seeds
Recommendation: Vitamin D3 is recommended over D2 because it’s easier for your body to use — I recommend 1000 IU or more each day.
3. Vitamin K2
I always recommend that vitamin D3 be paired with vitamin K2 because they work synergistically to improve calcium absorption and distribution. Vitamin D3 is responsible for better absorption of calcium, while vitamin K2 works much like a traffic signal directing calcium throughout the body.
Furthermore, vitamin K2 is needed to activate osteocalcin, which is a protein needed in the dentin matrix (part of your tooth) for repair and growth, and it also works with matrix-GLA protein to help remineralize teeth. (4a, 4b)
Recommendation: I recommend supplementing with 90 micrograms of vitamin K2 per day.
Consequently, having too much calcium in the body, as well as vitamin D and phosphorus, can lower magnesium levels, which can hinder the tooth remineralization process. In short, it’s important to supplement with any of these nutrients in balanced quantities.
Similar to vitamin D, about half the population doesn’t get enough magnesium, so there’s a good chance you could use more of this important mineral in your diet.
Recommendation: I recommend between 300 to 400 milligrams of magnesium per day, alongside the proper (aforementioned) amounts of calcium, vitamin D3 and vitamin K2.
Throughout your life your teeth are constantly being worn down, but through teeth remineralization your teeth are also constantly being rebuilt. Your teeth are made up different parts – your enamel, dentin, cementum and bone, which have organic and inorganic components.
Collagen is a major part of the organic aspects of your teeth. In fact, type I collagen actually makes up 90 percent of the organic components of your dentin, cementum and bone. (6) Meanwhile, type XVII is essential for enamel formation and without enough, there can be tooth malformation. (7)
Collagen is mostly found in animal products, especially connective tissues and organ meats, which we don’t really eat much of anymore. This makes collagen supplementation a good idea. An added bonus is that collagen is excellent for gut health, and the high glutamine even helps repair leaky gut, which improves nutrient absorption.
Recommendation: There are many different collagen sources, but grass-fed cattle sources are best because they are highest in type 1 collagen.
6. Oral Probiotics
Most people have heard of the gut microbiome, but few understand that we also have an oral microbiome, a large component of which is saliva. Studies have found that people with higher inorganic components in their saliva (including calcium phosphate), and who have a more acidic pH, are at higher risk for gum disease. (8)
Probiotics increase the organic compounds of the mouth and saliva, thereby counteracting the effects of the inorganic compounds, and have even been shown to improve breath, reduce symptoms of gingivitis, decrease inflammation and even possibly prevent oral cancer. (9, 10) They also decrease work to kill the harmful bacteria that can cause tooth decay and also inhibit teeth remineralization.
Recommendation: When it comes to oral probiotics use the same discretion you would with gut probiotics. Opt for a product from a reputable manufacturer that has high-volume colony forming units (CFUs) and the best beneficial strains.
Want Fewer Cavities? Focus on Your Diet First and Foremost
Obviously, preventing cavities is the best approach to dental health, but by reducing foods that promote demineralization (like grains and other foods that are high in phytic acid), increasing foods that promote remineralization (like healthy fats and dark, leafy greens), and using supplements, it is possible to remineralize teeth.
If, however, you’re experiencing pain due to your cavities, or your cavity is deep enough that it might affect the root and eventually lead to a root canal, I strongly recommend you opt for filling instead. Also, it’s a good idea to have a frank conversation with your dentist and make sure they’re on the conservative side when it comes to relying on fillings.
It’s time we took a more holistic approach to our dental care. Try to incorporate these six supplements, and you may be able to prevent or even reverse your cavities.
Dr. Mark Burhenne, or Dr. B for short, is a dentist with a blog (askthedentist.com) to empower people to understand how your mouth is a window into the health of the rest of your body. In his 30 years of practice as a dentist, he’s seen a lot of misinformation and people who have fallen through the cracks due to our healthcare system’s failure to understand the oral-body connection.
Read Next: The Worst and Best Foods for Your Teeth
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