February 22, 2010
I recently visited the dentist for my regular six-month cleaning and checkup.
One mysterious practice you might recall from your own checkup is your hygenist probing around your gums with a pick, while calling out a bunch of numbers that someone else dutifully records in a computer.
This isn't some mysterious rite of Dental Magick: they're measuring the depth of each gingival sulcus—the space between your tooth and your gums. Ideally, in a healthy mouth with healthy gums, this space is approximately 2mm deep, a depth easily reachable and cleanable by regular brushing.
However, most people do not have a…
Pretty much all my teeth crumbled away after years on a high-carb diet with gluten and sugar (and, to be fair, taking drugs), and I had frequent abscesses. Eventually some years ago I had all my top teeth out and all the bottom except for 7 at the front. About then I switched to paleo – grain free, low fructose, lots of animal food and fat.
Even though my remaining teeth are full of big cavities, they have not broken, chipped, become infected or acquired any new holes since I changed my diet (and, to be fair, gave up drugs). At this rate, they may last as long as I do.
I wish I'd known about this sooner!
Keep sending these articles, Awesome! Since on Paleo 3 months:
BP 140/80 117/72
I feel incredible, younger, and tons of energy!
Interesting! What kind of toothpaste do you use? I haven't had a filling in 20 years. I credit our straight-from-the-ground hard water that I've been enjoying since moving here. But if I use any products with sorbitol -- which is most toothpastes and flavored mouthwashes -- I can kick up a gum problem in a couple of locations. Apparently, bacteria can adapt to using sorbitol.
"Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it."
My dentist used exactly the same words during my last check up :-).
He also said:
"It's very rare that we see this. Well, never, really."
(6mm deep pockets filling in and gums re-attaching.)
Considering where I lived at the time, I dare say it's simply very rare that they see people who don't eat refined, sweetened junk.
Yeah, I used to be baffled that gingivitis and miscarriage are positively correlated. The bast I could figure was lifestyle factors independantly impacting both. But the systemic inflammation thing it the kicker; your body isn't going to let you risk something like gestation with rot in the floor joists.
I've had a pocket behind one tooth for a year that never gets better or worse. I tried oil pulling (inconsistently – didn't like it) but abandoned the Sonicare plan due to costs where I am, but I may revisit that idea when I'm next in NAm because my HDL reading is kicking my ass.
I resisted oil pulling, until I read where using unrefined virgin organic coconut oil was helpful for gum health and deterring dental caries. I also am a daily user of therapeutic essential oils. I combined the two and found I was oil pulling faithfully every morning for a couple of months. My mind/body wanted and looked forward to it. After "swishing" for 20 mins each morning (is not as long as you think), I did an after rinse with warm green tea.
I don't have the hard data that Stanton does, but I noticed a
definite improved feeling in my gums. Also, one tooth's sensitivity, that never healed properly from a root planing procedure, is so much more improved. I have mixed feelings about dentistry. I will maintain the integrity of my teeth and oral environment through other successful organic choices.
I'm in the middle of reading Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston Price. It's a very good read and supports your N=1 experiment.
JS, I have the same experience as you. Before altering my diet, I was having receding gums and eventually my dentist told me to go to a periodontist for deep cleaning. Since changing the way I eat, I have stopped going to the periodontist, and my dentist doesn't mention anything about gum problems any more. My only dental problem these days is chipping my teeth, but that's probably due to my overly aggressive chewing.
I have had very similar results. Paleo 2 years and 8 months now. No bleeding gums ever at my dental visits. I never floss, only Sonicare and toothpicks once in a while. My dentist was happy too.
Excellent! I can throw my own N=1 into the mix. On a strict paleo diet, I've also seen pockets reduced from 5 to 3 over the course of six months.
My somewhat guilty confession: I am a daily flosser, and I drink tons of water and have salivary glands the size of walnuts, but I do not brush my teeth more than a couple times a month. Toothpaste just tastes wrong to me. Still I get the plaudits from the hygienist: "You're doing very well, keep it up."
If only they knew I was a toothbrushing heretic…
I've been on the paleo diet for a few months now, not for anything serious but just to become more energized and healthy in general. While trying out this new diet It never occurred to me the positive effects it would have on my teeth and gum health. The tissue around my teeth is a much healthier pink and whenever I flush or brush, I don't see one bit of blood, nothing. I am actually still getting used to it! This diet definitely has it's benefits. To anyone just trying it out, make sure to have a good list of paleo recipes. It helps in the long run.
Thanks for sharing. Your assertion about what causes decay:
"Plaque causes tooth decay—because of the acids the plaque bacteria produce when they ferment sugars in our mouth"
May not be accurate. I did a lot of reading on it in 2012 when my cats started losing teeth. The alternative view is complex and I won't detail it here but it is related to pH, primarily upset by high BG, and de-mineralization of the teeth due to nutrient deficiency. I.e. the bacteria are doing the body a favor, it is symbiotic. Hey bacteria, I need those minerals, I stopped sending nutrients in there a while ago, I will make the perfect environment for you to prosper by breaking down my teeth for me.
My hygienist has said the same things to both me and my wife for the past 2 years. She makes these unprompted "Wow you are really looking good" remarks about my teeth and gums and has asked what changes we made.
This has been a consistent thing ever since we started a lower carb Paleo diet about 2 years ago.
I want to also say that my dental health improved when I gave up eating gluten. I had to get my teeth cleaned every four months because of plaque buildup in spite of using a Sonicare toothbrush and daily flossing. Once I went gluten-free, the plaque disappeared and my teeth and gums have never looked better.
January 4, 2012
Not sure where I read this but I think the normal flow through the teeth is from the inside to the outside..until you start eating sugar, which reverses it. Then all the bacteria and pathogens in the saliva are drawn into the core of the tooth creating cavities and infection..inflamation etc..it goes on to link heart disease with poor dental health. So don't be shy on the toothbrush or a stranger to your hygenist. Best way to keep things healthy is yet again to eat real food and not sugary foodlike substances.
February 22, 2010
I wish I'd discovered Paleo sooner, too.
That's excellent progress! Glad to hear of it.
I've used the Tom's strawberry-flavored kids toothpaste, mainly because I don't like mint. The ingredients don't mention sorbitol.
I don't have my older data, but I know I used to have several 5mm pockets. Apparently it is possible, despite the claims that gums only get worse over time, for gums to reattach and heal -- given a strongly anti-inflammatory, gluten-free diet and several years.
Since my previous diet was very clean and strongly anti-inflammatory, I have to credit going gluten-free, and an overall decrease in carbohydrates, for the improvements.
Absolutely. The study that shows a reduction in CRP after resolution of periodontitis is key: it shows a causal relationship, not just a correlation.
The Sonicares are worth it IMO. Note that Costco has the best price on brush refills, but Amazon appears to have the best price on the brush itself. (Again, I recommend the ProResults version. The battery lasts the longest, and the brush heads don't have crevices that get clogged with disgusting residue.)
Coconut oil is antibacterial and antiviral, so I can see why it helps. I find it quicker just to brush my teeth, though!
I was very close to a WAPF diet before I switched to Paleo -- and while I accumulated no cavities on that diet (my cavities date back to my vegetarian or guilty low-meat omnivore days) my dental health improved dramatically after the switch.
Apparently mouth bacteria feed on simple sugars…so if you're eating a lot of simple sugars, or eating a lot of starches that are well-digested by salivary amylase, you're giving your plaque much more to eat. Our bodies clearly have some ability to fight plaque accumulation (Paleolithic humans had neither toothbrushes nor toothpaste), but a modern diet (and most agricultural diets, modern or no) appears to overwhelm it.
It's almost like this stuff works!
As I said to js290, Paleolithic humans had neither toothbrushes nor toothpaste, and their teeth were excellent…so clearly there's something about the modern diet that makes regular brushing necessary.
It's hard to explain to people that there's a whole level of health beyond "I feel fine."
It's clear that plaque feeding on sugar isn't the sole cause of tooth decay, because otherwise pure carnivores would never get cavities…but the fact that the plaque biofilm feeds on simple sugars is well-established and not controversial.
Hopefully we can continue to educate our healthcare providers!
Absolutely! I don't know exactly how gluten contributes to gum disease: whether it's simply a systemic inflammation issue, or whether there's some direct effect in the mouth itself.
Thanks, everyone! Keep forwarding this article around, as it's important. People balk at spending a few extra dollars on good-quality food -- but when balanced against the cost of dental work, it suddenly starts looking like a much better deal.
this very much backs the idea explored in good calories bad calories that poor dental health is followed roughly 10-20 years later by poor health in heart disease/cardiovascular disease and cancer development too.
i imagine this was covered by other writers too, weston a price springs to mind, but i first read it there.
i cannot remember where, but i do recall reading a theory that the body may "allow" a cancer to develop as a means to deal with excess blood sugar as a final ditch effort before going full blown diabetes.
this would mean the body does not die so fast in the short term, due to the toxic glucose being consumed by the cancerous cell(s) protecting the rest of the organism.
of course the longterm implications are pretty poor, but the body tends to focus on short term (keep alive long enough to procreate) rather than long term (live to be 100) anyway.
I've had a similar experience. After I retired and moved to New Mexico in 2008, I had no dentist. After about 2 years I drastically reduced the amount of starch I was eating, which used to be a lot. My goal was to reduce or eliminate my acid reflux, and that succeeded. I noticed that the amount of gunk coating my teeth reduced a lot.
I have had periodontal disease most of my adult life,m and have lost about 5 teeth to it. Before I moved, I had pocketing measurements with lots of 4s and 5s, many 6s and 7s, and one bleck hole – too deep to measure.
I have been using a sonicare toothbrush for a long time. About 2 years ago I read that some people have found that glycerin in the toothpaste causes problems since it keeps stuff stuck to the teeth. i tried sqitching to Ivory soap for brushing (not as bad as you'd think) since it seems to be low in glycerin, and finally using a toothpaste that does not list glycerin as an ingredient, unlike most of them.
The other change I made was to stop flossing. I noticed that after flossing I often developed gum infections – incipient abcesses – that would have to be controlled with antibiotics. I changed to using little "proxy brushes", and that problem has gone away. i also take a lot more vitamin C, and when I do get signs of a gum infection, I push more – the infection then goes away in days without antibiotics.
This year, after 4 years without seeing a dentist, I got a through dental exam and cleaning. No cavities, and my pocketing was less than before. The dentist of course advised getting cleanings at least 3 times a year to "stay on top of things". My thinning is that if after 4 years my mouth was better off than ever before, why should I even consider getting regular cleaning?
I really liked the very clean feeling I got with a Sonicare toothbrush, but never experienced any improvement in my 3, 4, & 5 mm gum pockets when I used it, despite regular 3 x year hygienist cleanings, brushing 2-3x day, and a low starch/low sugar/GF/paleo diet. By accident on an overseas trip without my Sonicare I discovered my Sonicare toothbrush was probably the source of the nighttime tinnitus I'd been experiencing for several years, so I went back to using a manual toothbrush. I resumed and stopped using the Sonicare brush several times to test that the tinnitus was definitely caused by its use). YMMV.
Last year while undergoing orthodontic treatment (at age 49) to broaden my narrow and slightly crowded dental arches and improve my bite (mild malocclusion was the likely cause of abfractions on some of my teeth due to force loads), I began using a sulcabrush regularly along my gumline to target areas where a regular toothbrush couldn't easily reach with the wires and brackets in the way – wow, what a difference that little brush head made! The braces have been off for 7 months now and I continue to use the sulcabrush along the gumline – at my recent dental hygiene visit my pocket measurements were reduced (though I'm hoping there will be further improvement next visit), the pronounced gumline sensitivity during scaling was greatly reduced, and my gums no longer bleed at all when flossing (and oh, do I love to floss now that my teeth no longer feel crammed together, and I no longer am restricted to the thinne$t and $lipperie$t name-brand flo$$e$).
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