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Q: I’ve read on your website about
dental amalgam fillings,
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
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.
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
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.
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?
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.