Dental Drama: Tooth Problems on the Raw Diet (Part 1)

24 01 2010

 

Say almond cheez!

NOTE: Before reading the rest of this, please check out my more recent article at Frugivore magazine, which talks about the role of fat-soluble vitamins in dental health—particularly in the context of vegan diets. Although I still think the information below is important, I’m now convinced that an insufficiency of vitamins D, K2, and A are the main reason so many vegans and raw vegans experience declining dental health.

Ah, teeth. Everyone’s favorite subject. In the land of the raw, no topic springs up quite as often as dental woes do—everything from cavities to sensitivity to receding gums to eroding enamel. It’s a little scary. And considering raw foodists probably do more chewing than any other humans on the planet, keeping our chompers in good shape is vital.

Before raw, my own teeth were in tip-top condition: only one tiny cavity when I was 12, perfect dental checkups, never needed braces. Dentists loved me, and I loved them. All was well.

Alas, after my first year as a raw foodist, reality bit me (with its own perfectly-whittled incisors): 14 cavities in one dental visit. That’s not a typo, although I kind of wish it was. I’m still dealing with the aftermath, and will probably never have a bite that fits together perfectly due to the grinding and drilling all that dental work required.

And my experience is an unfortunately common one. Amidst a laundry list of health improvements, many raw foodists find a startling decline in their oral health when they amp up the fruits and veggies and nuts—a paradox, considering that good nutrition and avoidance of refined sugar should improve the state of your mouth, not degrade it.

So what’s going on here?

It’s not just detox

There’s an odd belief floating around that cavities (and other dental damage) are signs your body is detoxing through your teeth, and are therefore normal when you first go raw. I’m not sure how many people believe this, but I’ve seen the cavities-as-detox theory proposed more than once—and it never fails to make me cringe. I like to keep an open mind, I really do. But if your teeth are decaying, it’s not a good thing—ever. If a tooth falls out, it’s probably not because your body is going to sprout a new, pretty, better one; it’s because something is very, very wrong.

After my own dental health crisis, I started researching like mad. Why do so many otherwise vibrant raw folks suffer from dental drama? Indeed, one of the few studies conducted on raw foodists shows a definite correlation between eating a 95 percent (or more) raw diet and acquiring dental caries—you can check out the abstract here: Dental erosions in subjects living on a raw food diet (1999)—so this is really more than anecdotal observation.

It seems tooth damage can be divided into two main categories: external factors and internal ones. In this post, let’s look at the former.

External factors

1. Eating frequency.

Many raw foodists—especially in the beginning of a dietary switch from cooked fare—ditch the three-square-meals-a-day mantra and become chronic grazers. Much of the time, this is the only conceivable way to consume enough calories; it’s either snack or starve, at least until you get used to eating a lot of bulk in one sitting.

Unfortunately, frequent eating spells trouble for teeth. The more often you put food in your mouth, the more often your teeth are exposed to sugars and acids from foods—and the less of a chance your saliva has to remineralize your enamel. (Saliva is a natural tooth-builder, rich in key minerals like calcium and phosphorus.) Even if no other eating habits change, turning into a grazer—or even an all-day juice and smoothie sipper—can contribute to enamel damage and decay.

The solution? Consolidate your eating schedule. Leave plenty of time between meals. If you must munch frequently, rinse your mouth out with water after eating, finish each meal with a mineral-rich food like greens, and floss, floss, floss until you can floss no more. Ideally, your day should be full of some large chunks of no-eating time so your saliva can work its remineralizing magic.

2. Nuts, dried fruit, and dehydrated foods.

Sticky, hard-to-scrape-off foods play a major role in dental damage. The longer food debris stays stuck on or between your teeth, the easier it is for bacteria to launch the process of decay. Nuts, dried fruit, and dehydrated foods—which fill the menus of many raw foodists, especially transitioning ones—tend to cling to tooth surfaces, providing a convenient meal for bacteria.

The solution? Eat these things sparingly, and when you do consume them, floss the debris out of your teeth immediately afterward.

3. Changes in dental health practices.

There seems to be some kind of rumor that wild animals—especially our higher primate relatives—live free from any sort of dental distress. As a result, going raw often comes with a shift in dental hygiene. If the chimps don’t brush on their natural diet, why should we?

Actually, animals do suffer from tooth decay and cavities, albeit not at the rate most humans do. Skeletons of dead chimpanzees in the wild, as well as examinations of live ones, frequently reveal cavities, broken or chipped teeth, decay, and other signs severe wear. Not to mention some pretty gnarly staining. Eating raw does not make you immune to dental problems. Not to mention, many of us are coming to raw with compromised health and not-so-perfect genes, so we’re already at a disadvantage to other creatures who’ve had a lifetime of good nutrition.

The solution? Keep flossing, keep brushing. If you had a successful dental health regimen on cooked food, don’t ditch it just because you go raw. If you’re concerned about chemicals and certain ingredients in oral health products, absolutely look into less toxic alternatives—but don’t stop brushing altogether. It won’t help. I promise.

4. Physical pH of raw foods.

You’ve probably heard of foods being “alkaline” or “acidic”—that is, some leave an alkaline residue after digestion, while others leave an acidic one. But when it comes to dental health, you’ve also got to consider the actual pH of food when it first enters your mouth and hits the surface of your teeth. Regardless of what happens to food after metabolization, the initial contact is what can cause the most damage.

Here’s a list of the pH of some raw foods taken from FDA measurements. The lower the number, the more acidic the food; 7 is considered neutral, although anything with a pH of 5 or greater is less likely to damage your teeth. Citrus often gets a bad rap, but notice that some other fruits—especially berries, plums, and grapes—have an even lower pH than oranges. And bear in mind that unripe fruit will typically have values lower than the ones listed.

For your viewing pleasure, I’ve highlighted the items under 5.0 pH in red.

Raw plant foods:

Aloe juice: 6.0 – 6.8
Apple, Red Delicious: 3.9
Apple, Golden Delicious: 3.6
Apple, Jonathan: 3.3
Apple, McIntosh: 3.3
Apricots: 3.3 – 4.8

Asparagus: 6 – 6.7
Avocado: 6.3 – 6.6
Bananas, red: 4.6 – 4.8
Bananas, yellow: 5.0 – 5.3
Beets: 5.3 – 6.6
Blackberries: 3.9 – 4.5
Blueberries: 3.1 – 3.3
Broccoli: 6.3 – 6.5
Cantaloupe: 6.1 – 6.6
Carrots: 5.9 – 6.4
Cauliflower: 5.6
Celery: 5.7 – 5.9
Cherries, Royal Ann: 3.8
Chives: 5.2 – 6.3
Coconut meat: 5.5 – 7.8
Corn: 5.9 – 7.3
Cucumbers: 5.1 – 5.8
Dates: 4.1 – 4.9
Eggplant: 5.5 – 6.5
Fennel: 5.5 – 5.9
Figs, Calamyrna: 5.2 – 6.0
Garlic: 5.8
Ginger: 5.6 – 5.9
Gooseberries: 2.8 – 3.1
Grapes, Concord: 2.8 – 3.0
Grapes, Lady Finger: 3.5 – 3.6
Grapes, Malaga: 3.7 – 3.8
Grapes, Muscadine: 3.2 – 3.4
Grapes, seedless: 2.9 – 3.8
Grapefruit: 3.0 – 3.8
Honey: 3.7 – 4.2
Jackfruit: 4.8 – 6.8
Jujube: 5.2
Kale: 6.4 – 6.8
Kelp: 6.3
Kumquat: 3.6 – 4.2
Leeks: 5.5 – 6.2
Lemon juice: 2.0 – 2.6
Lettuce, Boston: 5.9 – 6.1
Lettuce, iceberg: 5.7 – 6.1
Lettuce, romaine: 5.8 – 6.1
Lime juice: 2.0 – 2.4
Loganberries: 2.7 – 3.5
Lychee: 4.7 – 5.0
Mangos: 3.4 – 4.8

Mangosteen: 4.5 – 5.0
Melon, Casaba: 5.8 – 6.0
Melon, honeydew: 6.0 – 6.7
Melon, Persian: 5.9 – 6.4
Mushrooms: 6.0 – 6.7
Nectarines: 3.9 – 4.2
Onions, red: 5.3 – 5.8
Onions, white: 5.4 – 5.9
Onions, yellow: 5.3 – 5.6
Oranges, Florida: 3.7 – 4.3
Oranges, “color added”: 3.6 – 3.9
Papaya: 5.2 – 6.0
Parsley: 5.7 – 6.0
Peaches: 3.3 – 4.0
Pears, Bartlett: 3.5 – 4.6

Peppers, green: 5.2 – 5.9
Persimmons: 4.4 – 4.7
Pineapple: 3.2 – 4.0
Plums, blue: 2.8 – 3.4
Plums, red: 3.6 – 4.3
Plums, yellow: 3.9 – 4.5
Pomegranate: 2.9 – 3.2

Radishes: 5.8 – 6.0
Rambutan: 4.9
Raspberries: 3.2 – 3.9
Sauerkraut: 3.3 – 3.6
Scallion: 6.2
Spinach: 5.5 – 6.8
Strawberries: 3.0 – 3.9
Sweet potatoes: 5.3 – 5.6
Swiss chard: 6.2 – 6.8
Tangerine: 3.3 – 4.5
Tomatillo: 3.8
Tomatoes: 4.3 – 4.9
Vinegar:  2.4 – 3.4

Walnuts: 5.4
Watercress: 5.9 – 6.2
Watermelon: 5.2 – 5.6
Zucchini (Courgette): 5.7 – 6.1

Non-vegan, potentially raw foods:

Cheese, Camembert: 7.44
Cheese, cheddar: 5.9
Cheese, cottage: 4.75 – 5.0
Cheese, Roquefort: 5.1 – 6.0
Cheese, parmesan: 5.2 – 5.3
Egg white: 7.9
Egg yolk: 6.1
Honey: 3.7 – 4.2
Mackerel: 6.3 – 6.5
Milk, cow: 6.4 – 6.8
Milk, goat: 6.5
Salmon: 5.9 – 6.5
Tuna: 5.9 – 6.2

In addition, many raw foods—especially fruits—are water-rich, so whatever acidity they carry turns into a literal mouthwash when you chew. Bite into a not-quite-ripe orange, for example, and your teeth will receive a complete acid bath, with low-pH juice hitting all surfaces of your teeth before you swallow (and lingering there for a while afterwards). If you eat a diet full of low-pH foods, you’re bound to experience that dreaded tooth sensitivity, and you may eventually notice the tips of your teeth becoming transparent from enamel loss.

The solution? Avoid super-acidic items, go easy on lemon juice and vinegar, and eat your fruit as ripe as possible. Sugar is less damaging to enamel than acid is, so even a minimal-sugar diet with some highly acidic items can cause damage. The worst combination is likely sugar and acidity, which gives bacteria a head-start on enamel erosion (acid) along with supplying it with food (sugar). That makes unripe citrus, grapes, apples, plums, and berries the most damaging of the bunch.

To quickly raise the pH of your mouth after eating (and thus avoid enamel damage), swish your mouth out with a mixture of water and baking soda, which has an alkaline pH of about 8.2. This works wonders.

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64 responses

25 01 2010
Sarah Endipitos

This pH list is a seed of great worth and based on it, my garden of knowledge will grow. My teeth and I thank you for sharing your research.

27 01 2010
Dental Drama: Tooth Problems on the Raw Diet (Part 2) « Raw Food SOS: Troubleshooting on the Raw Food Diet

[...] on the Raw Diet (Part 2) 27 01 2010 It’s been my experience that even the most diligent dental care and acidic-food avoidance won’t save your teeth if the right nutritional factors aren’t in place. Your teeth are [...]

29 01 2010
Laura-Jane

This is a great post, Denise. You approach the dental dilemma with academic precision, which is a good thing. I’m into my sixth month as a 100% raw vegan. I have yet to go to the dentist during this period. I’m scared!

I am a total grazer, but it makes sense that I should curb doing this. In fact, I will stop doing this as a result of your article.

Take care and keep up the good work! I’m going to tweet this article. Bye for now!

3 02 2010
neisy

Minimizing the grazing should definitely help in the long run. Thanks for reading (and for the tweet)!

17 03 2010
joya

Thank you for this information. Your whole blog is an invaluable resource. It is so refreshing to find raw food advice that isn’t one-sided!

2 04 2010
neisy

Thanks, Joya — I’m glad you’ve found this blog useful! :)

30 03 2010
Julie

Heya:

We’ve been really worried about our teeth for the last week, so we’ve started flossing more and we’ve also begin swishing baking soda. Too, we’ve ditched frequent snacking.

How long do you think it could take to start seeing remineralization of the teeth? The transparent tips are freaking me out!

Again, love your info!

-Julie

12 04 2010
neisy

Depending on what caused the tooth problems, it could take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to see major improvements. Unfortunately, if there was major enamel loss, that can’t always be repaired—the most you can do is prevent it from getting worse. Sometimes staining on your teeth (especially from greens) can make the transparency on the tips look worse, so you may want to schedule a dental cleaning to see if that improves the appearance of your pearly whites. :)

Also, bear in mind that it’s normal for everyone to have slightly translucent tooth tips: enamel is naturally translucent, and the front teeth have a shield of enamel that extends past the dentin (the solid-looking part of your teeth). When that part of the enamel gets just a little bit thinner, the damage looks much worse than it actually is.

Also, due to the types of lighting used indoors, it’s much easier to see the transparency in the bathroom mirror than in natural light. Try taking a mirror outdoors for a more realistic assessment of your teeth—it may make you feel better to see they look better than you think!

26 04 2010
dansoera

Great post, thank you! From some time now, I’ve been exercising with something like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geaS_3Z1eAU I think physical exercise is also important for any kind of bones to atract minerals in.

13 07 2010
LynneC

Just discovered your blog through Whole Health Source. Good stuff!

Hmmm, nearly all of the acidic foods (pH <5) are fruits.

18 07 2010
MT

I found a fairly comprehensive list of food pH, including meats (if you’re into that sort of thing): http://www.foodscience.caes.uga.edu/extension/documents/FDAapproximatepHoffoodslacf-phs.pdf

18 07 2010
20 07 2010
Neet Ielasi

I had good teeth prior to eating 100% raw vegan,and then onto 801010(high fruit low fat),i ate raw vegan for almost 7 years.One of the issues i am left with from eating this way,is all the damage to my teeth,gum recession,and i am all set up for 3 root canals,have had 4 fillings already.And YES i brush and rinsed after i ate anything,i flossed.
What a dilemma,it’s all about damage control now,and not eating that way anymore!
Thanks Denise for this article.

30 05 2014
Stella

I sympathize with you (I haven’t tried 80/10/10 only higly raw vegetarianism). I’m a med student and as soon as I heard and read about 80/10/10 I though “what a catastrophy”!!!!
It really is catastrophic on many levels, but mostly for your teeth.
Having healthy teeth and gums and remineralizing them, includes a diet NOT deprived of healthy fats and -if you’re not a religious vegan/vegetarian- fish oil, vitamins A D E and K, protein, raw greens, CoQ10 (for healthy gums).

That’s I suggest, having a balanced and nutritious diet with not so much sugar/acidity and more protein instead. Hormonal imbalances can definitely aggravate the problem, so I recommend adding the following to your diet:

# If you’re a vegan/vegetarian: flaxseed, shatavari for women, healthy fats and daily OIL PULLING (swish some coconut or other cold-pressed oil of your choice in your mouth for 20 minutes and spit), raw greens, soaking grains/seeds/nuts/legumes before cooking/sprouting, eggs, liquid or granular lecithin, kelp, bioflavonoids and antioxidants, turmeric/cayenne/ginger, green tea, calcium supplements.
#If you’re on a whole foods diet: ^all the above plus Fish oil/Cod liver oil, raw cheese/milk, wild-caught seafood, organ meat.

Good luck, wish you the best!

28 06 2014
Vahe

oh man don’t get the root canals or if you did consider having them removed and replaced by implants. Read Weston Prices research into root canals. They are all infected I removed mine despite my dentists warnings that they were safe. but after they were removed the dentists noticed that they were both infected! So you would be best off avoiding infection in your body. The tooth is already dead in a root canal so you may as well get implants if you can afford it or chew on one side. I chewed on one side for a while and now its not bad I’m used to it and I can always get an implant but I’m glad I had a heart arithmya when I had the root canals In and it stopped after they removed them! (make sure to remove the root canals properly tell dentist to scrap 1 mm of bony socket around tooth., read root canal cover up by George meinig. He is an endodontist that picked up Dr prices research.

29 06 2014
Padraig

I think it’s worth pointing out as well, something that only came to my attention recently, that every time you get a tooth extracted the other teeth start to do better. The reason has got to be that the rest of the system such as the blood connection can look after the remaining teeth better. The proof is that many people who have had many teeth out early in life, often find that the remaining ones replenish and become rock hard. My dad is over 80 and has only false teeth on top and a couple out below as well. However he said that he had almost all of those out early in life (30s or 40s). He eats whatever he wants, including sugary biscuits every day, and he hasn’t even brushed his teeth in decades! Yet the 7 or 8 that remain are in absolute perfect condition, one of his molars is in better condition than I think any single one of my teeth are. My dad never had any poisonous fillings (amalgams or otherwise), never had cancer-inducing x-rays, never got damaging anesthetic put into his mouth, never went through the russian roulette of getting infections from what they do to your teeth. He had his teeth pulled I believe with strings and doors.

By all mainstream views of dentistry, he should be dead long ago of infection from from not having his remaining teeth out and his teeth should have disintegrated due to taking absolutely no care of them. And yet the teeth remain in perfect condition. This is completely incompatible with the “oral hygiene” hypothesis and instead supports the idea of teeth replenishing themselves and working with the body. Of course there are many observations that fly in the face of the oral hygiene idiocy, for example how the least intelligent of species have perfect teeth into old age and yet never brush them also.

On realizing this about elderly people I started reading online about teeth in elderly people and it says very little about this observation. Instead I came across things like about how thanks to the WONDERS OF MODERN DENTISTRY many elderly people are now actually retaining some of their “original” teeth. And when this generation of elderly people who have never seen a dentist, never got fillings etc. die out, they’ll be forgotten about and it’ll be assumed they never existed because they couldn’t since they’re incompatible with the theory. Parents who don’t go for dental treatment are considered abusive, the tiny fraction with perfect teeth will be said to have lucky genes, and the nonsense will continue.

29 06 2014
Padraig

If a tooth starts decaying and crumbling, the natural thing to do is to just allow it to die and then there will be more resources for the rest of your teeth. Obviously that would take a lot of courage to do, and I didn’t do it myself when I needed some old fillings that had started crumblings (as happens composites) renewed recently. However I’m just pointing out the option. When I had to get one of my teeth extracted back years and years ago, it had only become painful after dental work. It makes no biological or evolutionary sense for an animal to go around writhing in pain over bad and infected teeth indefinitely, that only occurs after dental work.

Teeth are truthfully a very fascinating subject on many levels. If only we could see what’s happening to our brains etc., at the same level of detail. The brains of chimpanzees do not disintegrate at all with old age, even by a small bit as was previously assumed and it was a big surprise to nearly all the scientists that they did not, but it wasn’t much of a surprise to me. Only humans disintegrate and degenerate like that over time.

20 07 2010
Laurel

Hi Denise,

I would like to point out one thing to your readers……bacteria in the mouth do not cause tooth decay! That is a myth that we have all been led to believe, and many people accept it as fact without any further thought. But think about it…….why does fresh fruit spoil, but not dried fruit? Its because the moisture content has been reduced to the point where the sugars naturally present in the fruit prevent bacteria from feeding on the fruit. Sugar has been used as a preservative for this reason. White sugar and white flour have long shelf lives……if bacteria really loved to feed on sugar, that would not be the case. Ramiel Nagel discusses this concept in his book Cure Tooth Decay. Here’s a link to a free excerpt of the book where he talks about sugar and tooth decay:

http://www.curetoothdecay.com/Cure_Tooth_Decay_Preview.pdf

I’m not trying to suggest that sugar does not cause tooth decay…….it does. But the mechanism by which it causes decay is different than we have been told. And I’m pretty sure it doesn’t matter if we eat foods that stick to our teeth.

-Laurel

5 01 2012
Mor

Fermentation is a process whereby sugar can be converted to acids by bacteria http://chemistry.about.com/od/lecturenoteslab1/f/What-Is-Fermentation.htm

5 01 2012
Padraig

You are a simple-minded idiot.

20 08 2010
Luc

You should perhaps consider supplementing with vitamin K2 (of the Mk4 and or Mk7 varieties). About two weeks after adding K2 and a bit of butter to my diet, my teeth and gums began to improve quite amazingly. I was no longer feeling that the teeth could be a bit loose, no more gum bleeding …. and, after a few months further, no more flossing for me and no problems so far.

11 01 2011
Suzanne

I’m an Anthropology major student, and have to point out that teeth are definitely problematic for humans. Fossils of Homo erectus and heidelbergensis show that the person died of dental abscesses. Our tooth enamel is thin and weak for a primate; chimpanzees and gorillas, which are better adapted to a diet very high in leaves and fruits, have much thicker enamel as well as bigger teeth and way heavier jaw muscles. There was a mutation in the genes controlling jaw musculature back around the time of Homo erectus, and our myosin fibres have been decidedly feeble in comparison to those of earlier hominins ever since.
Anthropologists can always tell the difference between skeletons of hunter-gatherers and settled agriculturalists by the teeth and bones. H-Gs tend to be taller, sometimes markedly so, have more robust bones, and better teeth. Part of this is the high reliance on grains by S-As, which includes stone-grinding of the grain. Stone dust gets into the flour, and scratches and grinds tooth enamel.

9 03 2011
Tofu

Great post, thanks for sharing. I am experiencing with raw food and this is good to know.

12 03 2011
Jini Patel Thompson

Hi Denise,

I’ve been reading through your blog and enjoying your writings. Like you, I (and my 3 kids) have been on a Dental Journey – very frustrating, but we’re nearly there. Although we already followed a Weston Price style diet, supplemented with cod liver oil and vitamin D3, brushed/flossed, lots of raw milk, butter etc. We all kept getting decay. What made a big difference for us was nanoparticle-sized mineral supplementation, I blogged about it here:

http://www.listen2yourgut.com/blog/nanoparticle-minerals-heal-tooth-decay-and-osteoporosis/

And recently I took a second look at fluoride – topical vs. ingested – so we’re testing natural fluoride toothpaste now:

http://www.listen2yourgut.com/blog/why-our-family-is-trying-fluoride-toothpaste/

If you get a chance to read through the Fluoride Report I compiled – let me know your thoughts on it… on my blog or yours!

Like you, I’m originally an English major, and completely self-taught (through necessity!) in the in the health field. Rock on sister!

Jini

4 06 2011
Padraig

Denise, I mainly agree with you, but am 100% against the idea of having a “schedule” for eating and also 100% against the idea that primates get dental problems in the wild. Primates only get dental problems when fed human food.

I’ve had my teeth filled about two dozen times. One of my teeth had to be removed a few years ago when I went raw and did no brushing at all. The reason for it is that our teeth are MALFORMED from a very young stage of development.

But if you use Aloe Vera toothpaste, floss sometimes, take magnesium and calcium supplements and very occasionally maybe antiseptic mouthwash like I do… then i defy you to have any dental problems ever.

I can’t tell enough people this. If you do these things listed above, you WON’T have problems. My dentist told me that I should come back every 6 months and “even that is pushing it”. He told me not to eat grapefruit, not to eat tomatoes too much, he kept telling me to stay off the acidy fruits.

Denise, you know the anesthetics dentists give you? THEY CAUSE BRAIN DAMAGE!!!! ALL OF THEM!!!! Look it up. People just “happen” to develop dementia after them. Young people may seem fine after them but in reality they have lost brain cells and brain function, and these things are about as irreversible as alzheimer’s disease and dementia is.

I love my teeth, and won’t let anyone touch them ever again. For the first year or year and a half of doing this, I admit I was really, really afraid it wouldn’t work. But it DOES. 100%!!!! On the extremely rare occasions I get a little bit of pain in any of my teeth, I just floss more, maybe take the mouthwash. But I will NEVER be visiting the dentist again.

11 10 2011
damien

Thanks Padraig, do you have anything left to fill though :), just kidding – will take you up on advice.

12 06 2011
Nick

Hello Denise, I’ve read that raisins don’t stick to teeth as much as expected. I couldn’t find information on that, but I did find this:

http://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/health-benefits-of-raisins.html

Oleanolic Acid, one of the phytochemicals present in raisins, plays crucial role in protecting your teeth against tooth decay, cavities, brittleness of teeth etc. It effectively prevents growth of Streptococcus Mutans and Porphyromonas Gingivalis, two of the species of bacteria which are most responsible for cavities and other dental problems. In addition, it is rich in calcium which is very good for promoting dental health, as it prevents breaking or peeling away of teeth and enamel and makes them strong. One more interesting thing about raisins is that the longer they stick to your teeth, the better, as it ensures longer contact of Oleanolic Acid with the teeth preventing growth of bacteria. In addition to above, boron present in raisins plays a very important role in checking growth of germs in the mouth as well promotes health of bones and teeth.

12 08 2011
Ladan

I am quite confused, after 1 year of being raw my teeth have become terribly painful and sensitive :((
I don’t know what to do, some researches say dates and resins actually help the teeth , some other vegan say they destroy teeth.
I know a 90 yrs old vegan man who eats lots of resins and dates a day and perfect teeth, then Why my teeth are decaying?
I am quite confused :(

12 08 2011
Padraig

“I am quite confused, after 1 year of being raw my teeth have become terribly painful and sensitive :( (
I don’t know what to do, some researches say dates and resins actually help the teeth , some other vegan say they destroy teeth.
I know a 90 yrs old vegan man who eats lots of resins and dates a day and perfect teeth, then Why my teeth are decaying?
I am quite confused :(”

Do you floss? Do you use aloe vera toothpaste? Do you supplement with a little magnesium + calcium just in case you don’t have enough of these minerals?

The other great apes eat really acidy fruit and have zero problems with their teeth. However we are different since we were brought up on a western diet and our teeth are brittle and malformed from the beginning. It doesn’t take gross deformities Dr. Weston Price style to have malformed and brittle teeth. If it weren’t for braces (and other dental work), a lot more dental deformaties would be visible in western teeth.

But after taking these things and doing these things I never, ever, ever have to go to see a dentist anymore. SOMETIMES, like when I don’t take calcium + magnesium, my teeth can get slightly sore, but always quickly repaired. Please do these things… I wish someone had told me about these things when I was younger so I didn’t go for literally dozens of fillings of my teeth including one extracted. Sometimes I do wonder about flossing and wonder if it changes the shape of my gums a bit… but something about my system is working and I’m not going to change it, flossing is required to get the deep-down bacteria…once Listerine actually tried to run an ad campaign saying their stuff was as good as flossing but were not allowed to!!! In fact I kind of like flossing sometimes, it makes me think about things, especially health-related. I just wish there could be a similar definite fix for getting rid of the micro-organisms/bacteria in your brain that cause brain cell death, alzheimers, etc.

12 08 2011
Padraig

Just like to clarify: my teeth NEVER get sore anymore while I do this. Not even a little. I can eat the hardest apples there are without a bother.

The dental ads on tv about synthetic toothpastes cause me to get really upset sometimes. Aloe Vera toothpaste is known to do better than synthetic trials, as you can find on pubmed. They also say extremely nasty things about fruit acids.

I am not fully raw, but that doesn’t make a difference because I eat tons of extremely acidy fruit and also lots of raw figs. There is nothing in cooked food that could help your teeth and nobody claims there is…. typical people have all sorts of dental problems also as I did, and which put me off eating apples and other fruit for so long. :(

12 08 2011
Padraig

dried figs*, sorry.

2 09 2011
David Rice

Great input from many here. I’ve found much help with daily use of a water pik.

3 09 2011
Lipsy Mole

Greetings
Do cooked gooseberries stain teeth greyish, just like cooked red cabbage does?

6 10 2011
Lale

Guys I have been on raw vegan diet for 1,5 year , eating a good combination of foods , beushing, flossing all the time and I lost 5 teeth.
This diet IS defficient.
I have already started taking calcium, vitaminD,K2 supplemets, it helped 20% but I am still in pain.

24 10 2011
April Wolfe

Thank you for posting this. I’ve been raw for quite a while, doing juice fasts, onto water fasts, tried the all fruit diet, adding in super-foods, lots of minerals, seaweeds, etc. It’s been fun really. But the past month my teeth, overnight, went super sensitive, to drastic gum decay, the cold air hurts! I’m backing off of the raw for a while, adding bone broth, “medicinal meat” I call it. I’m studying Ayurveda, and although I love the idea of the raw food diet, I feel it has it’s place and time, and is not for everyone. I will still incorporate my favs, like growing my own wheat grass, sprouts, seaweeds, super-foods, but as winter comes, my body is clearly asking me to rebuild bone density and much more. I booked an appt. with a natural dentist for a check up and am excited to go. Life is a journey and it’s fun to try things on, I see this all as a learning experiment. If I can give any advice, do what your instincts tell you. It’s better to be safe than right!!!
Good luck with everyones journeys

26 10 2011
Padraig

“But the past month my teeth, overnight, went super sensitive, to drastic gum decay, the cold air hurts! I’m backing off of the raw for a while, adding bone broth, “medicinal meat” I call it.”

There is nothing in raw food that will do this, that’s a superstition/myth with zero basis whatsoever. Cooked food will cause a build up of acid in your body which can lead to bone loss. Your teeth would be worse if you had cooked food. There is zero rationale for saying that raw food will cause this, it’s a crazy idea frankly.

“but as winter comes, my body is clearly asking me to rebuild bone density and much more.”

Then you should keep away from cooked food. You can take extra calcium and magnesium as a supplement if you want, that’s what I do. And you need to floss and take aloe vera toothpaste also. My teeth went from being so extremely sensitive and painful all the time I used to eat a SAD to being absolutely perfect by following this and a proper diet that is mostly raw and the only unraw parts having nothing to do with my teeth.

“If I can give any advice, do what your instincts tell you. It’s better to be safe than right!!!”

My instincts would tell me to keep eating junk food and high sugar foods and milk if I didn’t know any better. Going with your instincts is incredibly good when you are eating all natural food, otherwise you cannot trust your instincts. Otherwise you could just eat anything you ever felt like and all Americans would be in amazing health.

If you want to be safest, then you should keep away from cooked foods. The only possible thing I would suggest about raw, is possibly to keep away from highly acidy fruit until your teeth are better.

Talking about cooked foods like they are the straight and narrow is just an example of the ludicrous ideas most people have about food. It’s raw food that is the straight and narrow, and what we are evolved to eat, and what our ancestors have been eating for millions of years. It’s the cooking of food that is eccentric crackpot nonsense and nobody knows what it’s doing or the full implications and it’s extremely dangerous. Raw is NORMAL, it is the default.

5 03 2012
Socrates

Padraig you sound loony.
You should know ‘Chris’ who posts on ‘Give it to me Raw’ and 30BAD, you guys write like you would be buddies.
The human lineage owes it’s evolution to the making and use of tools and fire, including substantial making and consumption of cooked food. We are omnivores who cook the majority of our food because that’s generally what works for best overall health and ‘productivity in life’, most of the time, at least over the long term. That has been the world-wide status quo for apparently hundreds of thousands of years with our genus. And that makes a difference with our evolution, biologically, physiologically, and culturally. Standards rule, in a variety of ways.

6 12 2011
Ron Brown, Ph.D.

Did you know the human fetus requires a calcium: phosphorus ratio of 1.7:1 for optimal mineralization during bone formation? Human bone averages a 1.5:1 ratio. Unless your diet has a calcium: phosphorus ratio between 1.5:1 to 1.7:1 you will have less than optimal results in maintaining good bones and teeth, no matter how much acid gets on your teeth. There is only one type of food on the planet that will provide you with the proper ratio: dark leafy greens like kale, bok choy, collards, etc. Simple romaine, celery, and broccoli won’t do it…they have ratios of only about 1.3:1 (same as unpasteruzied dairy) while the former greens have ratios of 2.5:1 to 3:1 or more. Do the math, plan out your diet, stick to foods with lower phosphorus levels (macadamias and coconuts are lower by calorie) and eat 2 large servings of dark greens a day; one blender full of green smoothie and a large tub of salad should do it.

6 12 2011
Nick

spinach? Does cooking affect them?

16 12 2011
Ron Brown, Ph.D.

Spinach is valuable for many other nutrients, but because of its high oxalic acid level, calcium from spinach is not well absorbed. Cooking in general tends to reduce the bioavailability of all minerals in food, gradually returning these minerals back to their inorganic state as they exist in soil. For example, pasteurizing milk is well known to reduce milk’s calcium bioavailability.

15 12 2011
Michelle

To anyone reading this post I suggest further reading. A well written book about fighting the tooth decay caused from harmful bacteria and an acid oral environment is “Kiss your dentist goodbye” by Ellie Phillips. She promotes the use of xylitol and rinses. It has done wonders for my sensitive teeth which are now becoming more opaque as well in a very short time.

6 01 2012
dion

Marry me

9 03 2012
Baddabing

I no longer follow a raw foods diet due to the various problems associated with the absence of fat-soluble minerals and the abundance of acids, sugars and antinutrients in the raw diet. If you’re eating nuts, grains or legumes that are uncooked, you’re consuming large quantities of phytic acid which interferes with mineral absorption. Soaking is not adequate – doing a Google search will quickly show that removing phytate is not a simple process, usually requiring many steps of soaking, germinating, cooking for long periods, grinding, and fermenting. The main problem with tooth decay – and for that matter, bone demineralization – involves, of course, minerals. Acids are problematic to be sure but calcium, phosphorous, vitamin D and vitamin K are essential. The latter require FAT in the diet and the vitamin K needs to be in an assimilable form – the form of which is not present in any plants. This is why an optimal diet includes animal products.

I will quote Stephan Guyenet at wholehealthsource regarding the Mellanby study, in which researchers reversed tooth decay in children by reducing phytate and increasing fat-soluble vitamins with dairy, eggs and so forth:

“Bread and oatmeal were replaced by potatoes, milk, meat, fish, eggs, butter and vegetables. The diet is reminiscent of what Dr. Weston Price used to reverse tooth decay in his dental clinic in Cleveland, although Price’s diet did include rolls made from freshly ground whole wheat. Price also identified the fat-soluble vitamin K2 MK-4 as another important factor in tooth decay reversal, which would have been abundant in Mellanby’s studies due to the dairy. The Mellanbys and Price were contemporaries and had parallel and complementary findings. The Mellanbys did not understand the role of vitamin K2 in mineral metabolism, and Price did not seem to appreciate the role of phytic acid from unsoaked whole grains in preventing mineral absorption.

Here are two sample meals provided in Dr. Mellanby’s paper. I believe the word “dinner” refers to the noon meal, and “supper” refers to the evening meal:

Breakfast- Omelette, cocoa, with milk.
Lunch- Milk.
Dinner- Potatoes, steamed minced meat, carrots, stewed fruit, milk.
Tea- Fresh fruit salad, cocoa made with milk.
Supper- Fish and potatoes fried in dripping, milk.

Breakfast- Scrambled egg, milk, fresh salad.
Dinner- Irish stew, potatoes, cabbage, stewed fruit, milk.
Tea- Minced meat warmed with bovril, green salad, milk.
Supper- Thick potato soup made with milk.

In addition, children received vitamin D daily”

This article can be found here: http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2010/12/dr-mellanbys-tooth-decay-reversal-diet.html

It’s very informative and in fact, Stephan Guyenet is a neurobiologist with some incredibly useful information regarding tooth decay and development. (I’m not him or represent him, however his blog was a big factor in my decision to disregard raw veganism.)

I strongly urge those people considering a raw foods diet, or who are having problems with a current raw vegan diet, to research other avenues and do not listen to the zealots who will promulgate these ideas without citing any evidence.

4 05 2012
raw food diet,raw diet, raw food vegan

A speedy red fox jumped over the lazy pet

23 05 2012
Azura Skye

Hi there, great article.
I’d love to know your opinion on eating tahini/peanut butter with fruit. I often eat peanut butter with apples and tahini with bananas. What do you think this does to teeth? I’m not sure if it’s acidic, but it is sticky!
Thanks for any info.

10 06 2012
» Smoothie caution Lux Vivens

[...] slept like the dead for ten hours straight the night before. A familiar feeling. I did remember to rinse my mouth with baking soda after, to halt the acid bath on my beloved teeth. It’s important to pay attention to the [...]

17 09 2012
marzo

Low Immunoglobulin A levels leads to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria and then the development of cavities from the harmful bacteria producing acids from sugars.

Vitamin D deficiency is the culprit behind low Immunoglobulin A.

7 10 2012
Nery Giliberto

Receding gums can only be treated by surgery. I have receding gums too and i am just saving money for my gum graft surgery. :`.”*

Check out all of the most recently released posting at our online site
http://www.melatoninfaq.com/melatonin-side-effects/

18 10 2012
^crazy person

You are crazy!! Go get brain surgery.

Fat soluble vitamins cure receding gums. Leafy greens.

18 10 2012
D

I have been told something similar by my dentist. However, if there are 14 cavities, perhaps, as my dentist said to me, this problem has been building up for years, probably before you started eating raw food.

31 10 2012
RAW Feedback « Lack of Tolerance

[...] Teeth Problems: I didn´t do a research study on this, but I can tell you, after consuming an unusual amount of lemon and lime juice (since it´s used as a subsitute for vinegar in many recipes), my teeth hurt and got incredibly sensitive to hot and cold! And all fo this started about 3 days into the diet. So it may be that my teeth are just super sensitive, but it is definitely not a unique problem among raw foodies. Read more on the raw dental drama. [...]

10 12 2012
eli

http://jn.nutrition.org/content/53/1/151.full.pdf+html?sid=3272b42b-b8b1-4da0-b9f6-3f310b9d94c5
SUMMARY
Two carbohydrate-free rations and a low carbohydrate ration were found under intensive tests to be *incapable* of producing tooth decay in a highly-caries susceptible strain of rats.
Even in trials as long as one and two years after the rats were desalivated to increase the susceptibility to tooth decay, no carious lesions developed.

26 01 2013
JLMK

Denise,

Don’t know if anybody here talked about Dr. Ellie Phillips’s Clean White Teeth protocol, but your explanation dovetails with hers, although she’s a pretty awesome dentist and a pioneer in the use of xylitol in the US.

You can find out more info on her website. I’m not trying to market her or anything, so I won’t even put a link here. But she can be found on Google.

13 03 2013
james

just wondering what cavemen used to brush their teeth ?
they didnt!!
and I will assume that they didnt get tooth decay.
why on earth would teeth decay from eating the food that we are supposed to eat.?
i think its logical to guess that teeth dont need brushing ever (providing that we eat fresh food that grows from the earth, (without oils or sauce or condiments).
some of the Egyptian mummies teeth are in fantastic condition (from 3000 years ago!!!) explain that to me !!
how is it possible that raw foodists (if not cheating) can get tooth decay?
i have been eating raw food for years now and my teeth are fine.
my skin and teeth and everything is way better than it used to be. I dont understand how everyone says raw food gives bad teeth! I am living proof its fine.
i do brush and floss.
but I see some people really knocking raw food. i have never experienced any of their claims.

24 04 2013
M.

Oh man, I wish I had read this earlier. I ate tomatos while watching a movie, but fell asleep during the movie. I just woke up feeling really dehydrated and with upsettingly dark yellow teeth with white splotches (probably from a fluoride rinse I used earlier in the day). I feel like I’m about to cry.

24 04 2013
M.

tomatoes*

6 05 2013
The best of both worlds: A vegetarian diet and a healthy smile - Scottsdale Dental Blog - Kathi M. Mansell, DMD, MAGD, PLC

[...] keep the pH in your mouth from reaching unhealthy acidic levels, limit your intake of foods with a low pH, [...]

15 05 2013
Joe Schmoe

No more flossing?? Why in the world would you stop flossing, no matter what your diet? Flossing is 100 times more important than brushing.

20 09 2013
M

Thank you for this. I have NEVER had any cavities in my 20 years of life… Then I started eating raw food, drinking smoothies daily (my main source of food) and to my dismay discovered I have about 7 teeth showing signs of dismay. I’m still a little angry about it. No part of the research I do daily said anything about tooth decay on a raw diet. Now I’ve got to figure this out. Is there any way to reverse the brown spots of decay on teeth? I am so lost when it comes to cavities. :-(

20 09 2013
ranmakei

Teeth take a long time to develop cavities. You cant expect it to happen in a year or less. And eating a raw diet of just fruits will make your body highly acidic. This will cause your body to use calcium from your bones. You need to have a balanced raw food diet of 50/50 vegetables/fruits. Preferably higher on the vegetables.

9 12 2013
mevashir

This is a very brilliant post. I suffered a lot of enamel damage when I befriended people about 13 years ago who counseled me to eat raw lemon peel dipped in sugar as an antidote to winter colds, etc. I have recently gone into a lot of debt for urgent dental procedures to help remedy this “helpful” advice. You are a blessed source of good information!

29 01 2014
Gry Ranfelt

Did your dental problems go away after you went back to cooked/paleo?

6 03 2014
Tooth fairy pick up service

I’ve been to a lecture of a woman who is on raw food since 4 years. I have never seen a westerner with worse teeth than hers. Also her skin was super dry, almost like psoriasis, her hair brittle.

I’m vegan since 8 weeks, no dried fruit, stopped coffee, stopped alcohol, very little sugar … and since about 6 weeks my teeth are sensitive and almost painful.

I worry a lot about this. I do not want to develop cavities, that would be a nightmare. I bought Ramien Nagel’s book and the expensive fermented cod liver oil. I’m taking it since a couple of days now but so far feel no difference in my teeth yet. I think I should feel less pain, but don’t.

9 03 2014
ranmakei

Do you have a health specialist that you go to? Even if you go on a raw diet you should still have regular checkups to see if your body is working properly. There is no way to know why your teeth is sensitive without a checkup. In general though, you should understand how your body processes food and make sure that process is functioning properly.

Is your digestive health good? Do you get lots of exercise? Do you sit for long periods of time? Have you had a blood test to determine if you’re low on anything? Do you expose your skin to natural light? Do you overindulge in fruits and not enough vegetables? Do you consume too much sugar? Sugar by itself, although used as an energy source can help deplete minerals. So an adequate supply of minerals from your food is needed. Your body can also get energy from fat and it won’t overwork your body from having to decrease the acidity that processing sugar causes. Processed saturated fat is very bad. unprocessed cold pressed virgin oil is best for a fat source.

Teeth are formed with silica, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins A, C, and D. You need a good source of these vitamins and minerals. Even raw food s can be deficient if the soil it was grown in was lacking these vitamins or minerals. You could also have genes that affect your body’s processing of certain vitamins and minerals (every person has a different genetic makeup). What if you can’t process the calcium? Thats why you have a checkup, to uncover these types of things. Science is a good thing.

Your digestive health is influenced heavily by good bacteria or digestive flora. You can be a super healthy person and not be able to process milk protein if you don’t have the bacteria in your gut to break down lactose. Antibiotics wipe out this flora. You would need to repopulate it if you lost that bacteria and your appendix didn’t have a good backup supply of your healthy bacteria. You can’t get all the bacteria you need from yogurt. commercial yogurt only has a few bacteria. Your gut should have more than billions of different types of bacteria. You usually get a lot of that bacteria from mothers breast milk.

I like getting locally farmed foods and if the farmer uses good practices, such as crop rotation then usually mineral content is usually not a problem. Preferable for them not to spray any type of pesticides (natural or unnatural).

Now getting a good source of food is important for your body, but also removing toxins is another important aspect of your health. I have heard that Indians used to use a little clay with their food to protect themselves from any poison in food. Clay is interesting in that it trades negatively charged minerals for positively charged toxins. Oceanic level clay is bad due to pollution. Volcanic clay is usually better because there is minimal or nonexistent pollutants. If I remember correctly scientists used clay to absorb the positive radiation from the chernobyl nuclear disaster. I’m not sure but they may have had people consume bentonite clay to deal with the radiation poisoning people had.

The only sure way to know is have a checkup with someone that wants to help you continue on your preferred diet.

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