Natural Life Magazine

Ask Natural Life:
Is There Such a Thing as Natural Dental Care?
by Wendy Priesnitz

natural dental care
Image CandyBox Images/Shutterstock

Q: I’ve read on your website about dental amalgam fillings, fluoride and, dental floss. And I don’t want to even think about dental x-rays! Is there any hope for those of us who need dental work? And what about our children?

A: I believe that the hope is in prevention through nutrition. But first, here are some things to be aware of.

What’s Wrong at the Dentist’s Office

Amalgam fillings are a mixture of silver, mercury, copper, cadmium, and possibly other metals. They have a number of serious drawbacks. Mercury is highly toxic for the brain and nervous system, is associated with neuro-muscular diseases, autism, Attention Deficit Disorder, and many nervous system disorders, and affects the immune system and the thyroid gland.

Although it’s widely agreed that mercury leaches into the mouth from fillings, the amount and the effects are controversial among researchers. Mercury is also toxic to the environment and most dental offices treat residue from ground down or removed fillings as hazardous waste. The World Health Organization estimates that mercury from amalgam and laboratory devices accounts for over half of total mercury emissions.

Mercury amalgam dental fillings are now banned in a few countries, such as Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. In 2010, the U.S. Food And Drug Administration stopped recommending them for children under the age of six and for pregnant women.

Alternative materials may include costly gold or ceramic/porcelain, or the increasingly common composite resins and other plastic types of materials. But they may be problematic too.

Research published in the journal Pediatrics in July, 2012 entitled “Dental Composite Restorations and Psychosocial Function in Children” indicates that some dental composites are having a significant negative impact on children because they contain the endocrine disruptor Bisphenol-A (BPA). The study used data from The New England Children’s Amalgam Trial, which, surprisingly, found that children ages six to ten years old with mercury amalgam restorations had better psycho- social outcomes than those with high cumulative exposure to BPA- based epoxy resin composites (bisGMA). BPA and similar analogs, such as Bisphenol-S, are also found in food liners, thermal printer papers, and money, contributing to cumulative exposure.

The researchers pointed out that while reducing or eliminating exposure should be the first priority, there are natural substances – such as probiotics – that have been shown to reduce BPA toxicity.

Fluoride is another toxic problem. As I have written in the article you referred to in your question, there is no need for fluoride in our water supplies, toothpaste, or mouthwash, or for fluoride treatments in the dentist’s chair. Do not allow a dentist to apply fluoride to your children’s teeth, which is a good reason to be present with your young child in the dentist’s office. Fortunately it is increasingly being removed from water supplies.

There are other chemicals in products like mouthwash and tooth whitening products that contain alcohol and other chemicals that irritate the gums, pollute our bodies, or damage tooth enamel.

Another issue of concern to some dentists and researchers like the late Dr. Weston Price, is root canal procedures. Drilling through the center of a tooth destroys the nerve in order to stop pain. That is followed by filling in the nerve canal with amalgam and capping the tooth. However, a dead or dying tooth is prone to infection, which can damage your general health. So some holistic practitioners prefer to just pull the dead tooth instead.

Gum disease, or periodontitis, is a serious condition that can also negatively affect one’s whole body. It is now thought that inflammation may link periodontal disease to other chronic conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer’s. Holistic practitioners believe that gum disease can be avoided and even treated with natural methods like good dental hygiene and nutritional balancing, and should not require surgery.

Some Solutions

There is no doubt that an intimate connection exists between dental health and nutrition. The International Association of Biological and Dental Medicine (IABDM) refers to it as the integration of “body, mind, spirit, and mouth.”

Proper nutrition (along with good dental hygiene) can, at the very least, help prevent tooth decay and contribute to gum health. Dr. Weston Price even found he could cause decayed teeth to heal themselves, a remineralization process that he described in a 1936 article in the Journal of the American Dental Association. He traveled the world studying the diets of people who were isolated from the modern world. And, based on that research, he found that he could eliminate or greatly reduce tooth decay and cavities through diet improvement – building up the immune system through eating nutrient-dense traditional foods, avoiding detrimental foods containing sugar and other refined ingredients – and exercise.

Building, maintaining, and repairing teeth requires a variety of minerals that are missing from modern refined foods, including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese, and boron. Demineralization is the process by which these minerals naturally migrate out of the teeth to the bones, heart, and other places in the body where they are required. Caring for our teeth requires providing our bodies with enough minerals, enzymes, and vitamins to compensate for that continuing loss and thus maintain and re-grow damaged tooth enamel…the process that’s called remineralization. In addition, toxicity from eating refined foods and hydrogenated oils, as well as pharmaceutical use, can contribute to poor dental health.

When Dr. Price analyzed the foods used by those so-called “primitive” people with healthy teeth and gums, he found that they provided at least four times more of the water soluble vitamins, calcium, and other minerals, and at least ten times more of the fat soluble vitamins from animal products, than the amount consumed by most people in “modern” society. They also used lacto-fermented foods and beverages, which enhance digestion and assimilation of nutrients.

That gum disease can be caused by poor diet – especially insufficient levels of vitamins C and E – has been known for decades. Research on the subject from the mid-twentieth century can be found in the Journal of Dental Research. But never once, has my dentist or dental hygienist talked to me about nutrition – not even when I was pregnant and breastfeeding, a time when a mother’s supply of bone and tooth building nutrients is rapidly and regularly depleted.

One simple practice that can be combined with nutrition and oral hygiene is called oil pulling, which is an ancient Ayurveda healing process. First thing in the morning, on an empty stomach and before drinking anything, pour one tablespoon of organic, cold-pressed sunflower or sesame oil into your mouth. For about twenty minutes (work up to that length of time if necessary), swish it around as you would mouthwash (without gargling), using your tongue to help move it around. Do not swallow. When the oil has become saturated with the toxins it has pulled out, it may become whitish and thin. Spit it out, then rinse your mouth with warm salt water. You can do this every morning, or several times a week. Depending upon how much you need to detoxify, you might want to take an occasional break. In addition to improved dental health, oil pulling is said to aid in many other ailments, including autoimmune disorders.

If you want to combine the DIY approach with some help from a holistic or “biological” dentist, the Holistic Dental Association’s website (see below) has a searchable database of alternative practitioners in North America and the IABDM’s database covers many countries, including Australia, Italy, South Africa, Canada and the U.S.

Learn More

Uninformed Consent: The Hidden Dangers in Dental Care by Hal A. Huggins, Thomas E. Levy (Hampton Roads Pub Co, 1999)

Cure Tooth Decay: Heal and Prevent Cavities with Nutrition by Ramiel Nagel (CreateSpace, 2010)

Tooth Truth: A Patient’s Guide to Metal-Free Dentistry by Frank J. Jerome (New Century Press, 2000)

Oil Pulling Therapy: Detoxifying and Healing the Body Through Oral Cleansing by Bruce Fife (Piccadilly Books, 2008)

Nutrition and Physical Degeneration 8th Edition by Weston A. Price (Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, 2008)

Mercury Fillings: A Time Bomb in Your Head by Charles W. Moore


Ask Natural Life: What Are the Dangers of Fluoride?


Ask Natural Life: What is Dental Floss Made Of?


Wendy Priesnitz is Natural Life Magazine’s editor. She has been a journalist for over 40 years and is the author of 13 books. This article was published in 2012.


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