Dental Cavities: Natural Support to Prevent Tooth Decay

September 15, 2017 | Linda J. Dobberstein, Chiropractor, Board Certified in Clinical Nutrition

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Dental Cavities: Natural Support to Prevent Tooth Decay
Dental cavities bring thoughts of unpleasant sounds of dental work to mind. Piercing drill sounds and the sensation when the tooth is being drilled makes one want to brush their teeth and floss a little bit more. Dental health, however, is more than that. Dental health and the prevention of cavities are related with inflammation, microbiome, biofilms, and acid pH in the mouth. Intervention and support can make a substantial difference in prevention and treatment of tooth decay. A mouthful of fillings or decayed teeth doesn’t have to happen.

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Dental Cavities Related with Acid pH, Demineralization, Inflammation, and Germ Gangs

Dental cavities are the most common disease in the world, yet are preventable. Tooth decay and cavity formation occurs with a series of changes. It involves an acidic pH, inflammation, changes in oral microbiome, and biofilms triggered by sugar or carbohydrates.

Carbohydrate consumption causes the bacteria in the mouth to release acids and create an acid pH. The acid pH can cause a loss of minerals in the tooth surface. Enzymes like MMP-8 (matrix metalloproteinases) become activated within this milieu of acidic pH and bacteria. As MMP-8 levels increase, the type 1 collagen from the hard enamel and dentin surfaces of the tooth erode away and cavities are formed.

Research shows that those who have higher MMP-8 levels in their saliva have more dental cavities. Those that don’t have elevated levels of MMP-8 but have the acid pH and high sugar intake will have the loss of minerals in the teeth, but will not experience the dental cavities. An imbalance in the oral microbiome with germs and biofilms from staph, strep, and candida contributes to tooth decay.

MMP-8, Dental Problems and Heart Disease

Controlling MMP-8 is at the heart of preventing tooth decay and cavities, but MMP-8 has a larger connection with inflammation elsewhere in the body, like the heart. The connection between heart disease and dental problems has been recognized for several years. MMP-8 levels are significantly associated with heart health and can cause heart attack, congestive heart failure, and even cardiovascular death. Researchers suspect that there is a possible cause and effect that involves a breakdown in dental health, coronary artery disease and MMPs, like MMP-8. Elevated MMP-8 is also linked with osteoarthritis, multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune inflammatory disorders.

Prevention of Dental Cavities

The Mayo Clinic’s recommendations for prevention of dental cavities is to brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste after eating or drinking, fluoride-based mouthwashes, dental sealants, drink tap water (fluoride), prescription fluoride, antibacterial rinses, and a healthy diet. Fluoride is not the answer. There is so much more to dental health than fluoride treatments. In fact, fluoride has its own toxic effects to tissues like the thyroid. Mother Nature gave us several great resources to help protect our teeth from decay. Natural medicine shows us that cavities can even be reversed. The plan of action needs to focus on reduction of acid in the saliva, management of MMP-8, and remineralization of the tooth.

It is common knowledge that sugar is bad for your teeth and health in general. Hopefully, a discussion like this reinforces the need to remove sugar from the diet. Dietary sugar and grains are the worst offenders that cause the acid pH in the mouth and lead to loss of minerals in the teeth. Foods rich in phytic acid can also cause a loss of minerals because phytic acid can bind onto minerals making them less available for structure. Phytic acid is found in grains, beans, seeds and nuts. If these foods are sprouted or soaked before consumption, then less phytic acid is present and not a concern.

How to Prevent Tooth Decay

Our teeth need nutrients, like bones and muscles. They are not simply a calcified bump on the gum line. Teeth need the minerals calcium and magnesium, vitamins A, D, E, and K and several antioxidants to stay healthy or prevent tooth decay. Several foods help keep the normal flora in the mouth healthy and block some of the most problematic cavities and biofilm generating germs. These include green tea, apples, red grape seeds, red wine, nutmeg, coffee, barley coffee, chicory, mushrooms, cranberry, garlic, propolis, cocoa extracts, and cinnamon.

Grape Seed Extract and Green Tea Extract

Grape seed extract and green tea extract stand out amongst other nutrients for preventative and restorative dental health. Grape seed extract has some amazing benefits for cavity prevention and treatment. Studies point to grape seed extract’s ability to inhibit the demineralization of tooth enamel and dentin caused by cavities. Chinese researchers have suggested that grape seed extract provides better support than fluoride in remineralization of teeth. Another study points to grape seed extract’s ability to prevent dental cavities induced by Streptococcus germ gangs or biofilms.

Green tea extract provides protection against the predominant cavity causing bacteria as shown in cellular studies. Oral rinses with green tea extract are cited as a promising therapy for prevention of cavities. Other research shows that green tea provides strong antibacterial activity against germs that cause gingivitis, cavities, and periodontal diseases.

Tooth Structure Support

The outer surface of the tooth, like dentin, requires its own type of support. Dentin’s tough, durability is in part due to its sulfur-rich compounds, like chondroitin sulfate. While chondroitin sulfate is widely known for its cartilage benefits and even the tensile strength of bone, it is needed for healthy teeth. Coral calcium and magnesium can help restore damaged demineralized teeth and repair dentin.

Oral Microbiome Support

The natural flora in the mouth can be supported with beneficial probiotics like acidophilus and bifidus. Natural compounds like lactoferrin can be added to help the natural flora of the mouth which can help repel and manage germ overgrowth. It can be especially helpful for Candida overgrowth.

MMP-8 Management

We saw earlier that elevated MMP-8 damages the demineralized tooth which leads to cavities and affects other parts of the body like the heart. Research is looking at ways to dampen its effect. One medical treatment is the use of antibiotics like tetracycline. Tetracycline and other antibiotics will kill off germs in the mouth, but at a cost. Antibiotics detrimentally alter the beneficial flora in the mouth and the gut, which may take weeks, months, and even years for the normal flora to recover after antibiotic usage. Research thankfully shows us that less toxic substances are helpful against elevated MMP-8.

The compound curcumin found in the spice turmeric is able to modulate and naturally reduce MMP-8 levels in gum tissue and blood. Black pepper extract or piperine provides anti-inflammatory activity. Research shows that piperine blocks MMP-8, protects against dental inflammation, dental stress-induced bone loss in the jaw, and even breakdown in dental collagen from periodontal disease.

Silymarin (milk thistle), wild artichokes, coriander seeds and natural flavonoids have shown promising effects on MMP-8. Green tea extract helps healthfully manage MMP-8 and has been shown to be protective to type 1 collagen like that found in skin and in dentin.

Trips to the dentist don’t have to be painful. Tooth health requires sugar reduction, healthy diets, and several nutrients. Medicine has come to the realization of just how important oral health is to the rest of the body. We have only one set of permanent, adult teeth. How we take care of them affects more than just how good your smile looks.

Nutritional Options

Grape Seed Extract – Taken from red grape seeds, this natural flavonoid is commonly used to help strengthen collagen. It helps strengthen capillaries and provides support to the immune system, nerves, and brain. This multi-purpose nutrient shows great promise in dental health and cavity prevention without the toxic effect of fluoride.

Green Tea Extract – This antioxidant also brims with versatility and effectiveness for dental health and numerous other benefits in the body. The dental industry has been trying to incorporate green tea extract into their various treatment regimes for oral health as it helps to strengthen teeth. Wellness Resources offers a highly purified green tea extract standardized for a high amount of polyphenols, total catechins, and EGCG.

Coral Calcium – Coral minerals offer a blend of calcium, magnesium, and 72 naturally occurring trace minerals. These minerals are essential to protect teeth, bones, and other tissues from acid pH that contributes to tooth decay and bone loss. Coral minerals are geometrically shaped that make them easily absorbed.

Probiotics – Our mouth contains its own natural flora- just like the gut and other parts of the body. Antibiotics, stress, sugar, acid producing foods like grains, steroid, inhalers, alcohol, tobacco, and mouth breathing places a stress response on the pH and natural flora of the mouth. Probiotics like Lactobacillus and Bifidus help restore the essential flora in our mouth.

Black Pepper Extract/Piperine – This compound with curcumins help modulate MMP-8. Quenching MMP-8 and other inflammatory compounds helps reduce the risk of tooth decay and heart stress. Piperine has been shown helpful with jaw bone health, dental collagen, and periodontal disease.

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