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How to Save Your Teeth
- What’s the number one cause of dental problems in raw foodists?
- How I overcame big problems with sensitive teeth with this one change alone.
- Is it possible to reverse cavities? Kevin and Frederic share their own tips. (Also: When should you give up and go to the dentist!)
- A completely natural way to brighten your teeth.
- If you’ve had dental health problems, here’s one thing that you can do that can save your teeth, according to Frederic.
- Why Frederic and I almost fought about this one issue. (But eventually agreed in the end!)
Kevin: Renegade Health Radio. This is Kevin Gianni with Frederic Patenaude.
Fredric: Hello everybody.
Kevin: What’s going on?
Fredric: Well, it’s spring. Great time. It’s getting warmer here, and I spent all my day yesterday at the dentist. Not all of the day, but, you know, most of the afternoon, let’s just say.
Kevin: You just go there to read the magazines in the waiting room?
Fredric: Not exactly, no. About ten…more like 12 year ago, yeah, I guess it started 14 years ago, you know, I was a raw foodist and I just ended up with a lot of dental problems. Like basically a bunch of cavities all at the same time. So I got all of this work done maybe ten to fifteen years ago. But now some of these fillings have to be redone again because they don’t last forever.
I mean, that’s the thing. The old mercury fillings. They are bad for you and so on, but the new types, the composites, yeah, they just have like a more limited lifespan. So I had to get a few of those kind of redone all over again. So it was not a lot of fun.
Kevin: So do you blame the raw food diet for the teeth problems, or do you think it’s a little bit of genetics and a little bit of the raw food diet?
Fredric: Well, I don’t blame the raw food diet like, as a diet. I just found that people in general who try a raw food approach end up with more dental problems, and I think that’s caused by a lot of things. And essentially, I mean, what I used to believe was sort of like, “Oh well, if you eat a healthy diet, you kind of…you know, you teeth will kind of take care of themselves. I mean, brushing is fine and so on, but I didn’t think that raw foods—it’s not raw foods, specifically, it’s just the sugar content of the diet that is to blame, I think, and—
Kevin: Didn’t you not brush your teeth for a long period of time?
Fredric: Well, I just was not brushing consistently for a while when I was like in my early 20s, because I’d read some old natural hygiene books saying you shouldn’t brush your teeth. And I know this sounds a little crazy, but sort of like the idea that—
Fredric: Yeah, Shelton. It was Shelton. Don’t laugh at me now, but I’m going to say that the dental problems were not just caused by that, specifically, because…then after that, I did brush, I did start brushing my teeth very carefully. And I still can get over the problems, and still…I was getting more cavities and so on. And my brother was doing the diet at the same time, and he didn’t go through the “don’t brush your teeth” thing or “don’t brush as much” kind of idea. But he still ended up with a bunch of cavities. Not as many as me, but still.
I think the biggest issue, essentially, is that we all kind of have underlying oral conditions, I would call, you know…
Kevin: Oral conditions?
Fredric: Well essentially, it’s the bacterial count in your mouth. So the dentists nowadays, they can actually figure that out. You can take a test and know what’s your bacterial count of the bacteria that cause cavities.
So I mean, these bacteria, they are in our mouths. And they are not going to go away no matter how much you brush. But the idea is we want to avoid them forming colonies and just, you know, plaque, and what I call like “little civilizations.” Essentially if the bacteria count is too high, then you are going to get problems.
So I think a lot of people when they start this diet, they just…they are not necessarily in a great space, dental health wise, but they are not adding too much like, oil to the fire. So when they switch to raw food diet, suddenly they are eating eight times a day instead of three or four times, you know. So eating more often means there’s more food in your mouth more often, right?
So there’s more sugar and they drink coconut water all day long. So the eating frequency is a part of it, I think, rather than just the foods. And then a lot of the foods have sugar as well, but I think the biggest one is the eating frequency, which really goes up on a raw food diet because the diet has a lower caloric density. Like a low caloric density means you need more food. And if you are not eating a lot of food all once, then you are going to kind of graze throughout the day. So that’s…I think that’s a big issue.
Kevin: Well, I mean, I had a similar experience. I’ve actually never had a cavity before in my life. I consider myself one of these like lucky people. And my mom never had soda in the house when I was young and we didn’t sweetened cereals or anything like that. So maybe that has something to do with it. Or maybe I just have genetics for my teeth or just kind of okay.
But I ran in some problems with my teeth as well. One was staining. So definitely staining was a big problem, because I started to use tooth soap, and even using the tooth soap and the tooth brightener that they have, it just…my teeth just still wouldn’t get that clean. And so, you know, they are starting to turn a little bit yellowish, greenish. And that was like the first thing.
But then I started to get really sensitive to hot and cold. And so, say if I was in the shower and I ran some water over my teeth, they would be very sensitive and they’d almost hurt. Or if I would take a run in the cold when I was living back east in Connecticut, my teeth would start to get, you know, my teeth would hurt when I was running in the cold. It was just this really strange feeling. I’d never felt it before.
And so those were like the first two things. And then the last draw was when my teeth started to hurt when I ate anything sugary. And that to me was a sign that something bad was really starting to happen. And I think you’re right with the frequency of the food, because what I used to do with the smoothie, when I would have a fruit smoothie or a green smoothie in the morning, is I would literally drink about 64 ounces maybe, so almost a full vitamix container full of smoothie. And I would drink it from 7:00 in the morning—varying times—7:00 in the morning until maybe 11:00. And so literally I was just washing sugar over my teeth every day all day long…well, for the first half of the day. And that just can’t be that good.
So now if I drink a smoothie…I’ll make it…well, I drink smoothie every morning, but if I do, I’ll literally drink it in like two or three minutes and it’s gone. I drink less now, because I’m eating more concentrated foods. I’m eating some cooked foods. Eating some animal foods…animal protein foods, not like animal foods. I don’t eat dog food, you know! It’s an animal food, right? I’m just going on the dog food diet! I decided raw food wasn’t working, maybe the dog food diet—see if I could lose some weight on that, who knows?
But anyway, I watch…I make sure that I drink the smoothie really fast, but not too fast that I get like a head cold, you know, one of those cold sensitive things. And then I brush my teeth right afterwards.
Fredric: Well that’s good. I mean, as long as you are handling that…kind of the bacterial count as I call it. I think that’s the key. Essentially what I talk about is kind of getting like a super hygiene routine going. And that’s where people had like problems like you, for a while. So you reduce the eating frequency, and then you brush in then more like…in the better manner.
What if someone has had a lot of dental problems, like cavities and so on? What should they do? Can they reverse the cavities? What’s the best way about it? Do you have any insights? I mean, I have a bunch of stuff, but maybe you have something else from your experience with sensitive teeth?
Kevin: Well I just stopped eating the 100% raw food diet. That seemed to solve the problem pretty quickly! It’s one of those things where you do it, and then your teeth are still sensitive, and then one day you are doing something that you used to do, like for instance, in the shower, and you’d run some water over your teeth, or you are running in the cold and you just don’t feel it anymore. And then you just weren’t feeling it. But then you finally realize that everything has gotten better.
So that’s really what I’ve done. A couple of other things that I think are important is one, making sure that you are flossing. I mean, flossing is such an important thing. And I’ve been to the dentist recently, and they have the…I don’t know what it’s called, but they take a measurement of the depth of your gums, how deep. And they assign a number to it, like one, two, three, four, five. And I used to be like fives and fours, but now I’m like twos and threes in most of the areas of my gums, and that means that my gums aren’t inflamed anymore. They were inflamed. So that’s a pretty good sign that your gums are getting better and that you are reducing the amount of bacteria that’s growing in your mouth causing inflammation.
And then another thing that…it’s kind of a little bit of a controversial thing. The girls in the office here love doing it. I think it’s kind of one of these things where it makes sense and there’s some science behind it, but it might be a wive’s tale/folklore kind of thing, and that’s oil pulling. And oil pulling is where you take an oil, like a sesame oil oil or something like that, and you put it in your mouth and you literally swish it around your mouth for ten, 15, 20 minutes. And oil is a natural cleanser. So that makes sense to me in terms of the way that…the reason why it can actually help brighten your teeth, which is pretty cool.
Again, it’s a commitment to swish oil around in your mouth. But also I imagine that in the oil there are some antimicrobial properties. There probably will be a little antibacterial, as well. And there is some science out of India, which is kind of where oil pulling comes from. It’s an Ayurvedic practice. There is some science, very few, there’s a few…there’s like one scientist that’s done like three or four studies on oil pulling. And they showed some promise about how it works and why it works.
But at the same time, it’s one of those things where there’s a commitment to just washing the oil around in your mouth for 20 minutes a day, which to me…you know, maybe if you are walking to work or driving in a car or something like that. But it’s up to you to decide whether you want to do something like that. But the girls here swear by it. They swear their teeth are getting lighter and, you know, hey, anecdotal is interesting too.
Fredric: Well yeah, I mean, I can see how bacteria must not like living in the pool of oil.
They want sugar, right? So maybe…yeah, I’m sure there’s something to it. It’s just like you said—a pretty big commitment. Even 15 minutes a day. I mean, that’s a lot. Like people have a hard time brushing for two minutes, you know?
Kevin: I know.
Fredric: There’s definitely something to the raw food diet causing dental problems. But have you noticed, like, now that you’re eating more raw foods after a period of, let’s say, being off the diet, more or less, with more smoothies nowadays. Do you find that…I mean, do you find that your teeth are getting more sensitive? Or…?
Kevin: No, not at all. I think it was just…I think it’s just the extreme of it that was causing me problems. And additionally, when you are able, and when your digestion is really good, which I think on the raw food diet that can suffer as well. Your HCL production is up and running. You are able to digest your food better and get more minerals and more amino acids out of it. And minerals are really important for your teeth. And I think that that’s connected in a way. And if your HCL is, you know, the production is rocking, then you know you are going to have a healthier bone structure. And so your teeth are involved in that as well.
Fredric: Yeah there could be definitely something to that. I mean, I know when I stopped eating like 100% raw food diet, and you know, included a larger variety of foods in my diet, I mean, immediately I felt better. There was a period where I was literally, like, afraid of my next dental appointment because I’d had all these cavities, and I just didn’t want to get another one.
And then I stopped eating the raw food diet pretty much completely at some point. And I looked at my teeth, and I noticed a little, like, kind of brownish spot and it was really freaking me out. So I went to the dentist. And he said, “Oh, that was like a cavity that was forming and then stopped forming itself. So the tooth had time to re-mineralize, and essentially you stop the cavity.” And I was like, wow! I actually…So he said, “Did you do anything different?” And I said, “Yeah, I changed my diet and I changed everything because I was eating like a raw food diet before.” I was explaining like 100% raw foods. And he said, “Well, that must have done the trick,” because, I mean, you can stop a cavity when it’s very small and forming.
Once it gets to a certain point, you have to get it filled. I mean, I know people ask, you know, “Isn’t there something you can do?” Well yes, there’s something to a point, but that point is not very long. And then at some point, I mean, you really need…the more you wait, the worse it’s going to get.
Kevin: Yeah, I agree. And there’s a very fine line. And I would definitely recommend going to a dentist to determine whether or not you should get that filled before deciding to do it on your own, or just allowing it to sit there and think you are healing it, and then suddenly you have to go through a root canal or something like that. I mean, I don’t know, it just doesn’t seem appealing to me.
You know, it’s funny you mentioned the story about you going to the dentist and telling them about your raw food diet. I had a dentist in Stanford, Connecticut, and….recommended guy. His name is Candel, and if you search like stanford dentist.com, I think he’s the guy that comes up, or holistic dentist in Stanford. He’s Russian guy, so he’s very direct, and you know, just very straight to the point.
And so I sit down in the chair, and I said to him, “Hey, my teeth are starting to hurt, and I feel hot, cold sensitivity. I think I have cavities.” So he says, “Okay.” And I said…and he’s like, “Well what are you doing?” And I was just like, “Well, I’m eating this raw food diet. I’m eating a lot of fruit…” And he’s like, “Well you stop doing that, it will be fine.”
Fredric: Good impression! Good Russian impression.
Kevin: I have an off-color Russian joke that I won’t tell. So that’s probably why my impression is good.
Fredric: That’s good. Yeah, I mean, sometimes it’s hard to tell what you did that made the difference. So I’m going to bring up something else that I did around that time, because when I was…you know, initially, yes, I went through the period of not brushing my teeth very often. But that wasn’t a very long period. And then I got a bunch of cavities. Of course, people will say, “Of course you did. You didn’t brush.” Yeah, okay. Yeah I was 20 years old. I was convinced by Shelton, what can I say? But right after, I did. I was very faithful with my dental hygiene and very committed to it. And I was using this natural toothpaste and everything, and things were not getting better, so I thought, you know, I’ve got to do something else.
So I switch to the…I changed my diet. But another thing that I did, and I haven’t really talked about it too much because I was kind of afraid in the natural world that people will create too much of a controversy. But I’ll talk about it now…is, I’ve been like a faithful fluoride toothpaste user since 2004. And I really attribute that to one of the better things that I’ve done to kind of prevent more decay and improve my dental health overall. And I know that’s like a bit of a controversy in this world, and I’m not talking about fluoride water and so on, but just having the fluoride in the toothpaste, which could be a natural toothpaste.
For me, I mean, I’m really convinced that if you’ve had big dental problems or cavities and you want to prevent them, I mean, that’s definitely one way to do it. And I know…you are going to say, “Are you crazy?”
Fredric: Yeah, fluoride. Yeah, but you know what? There’s no real controversy around fluoride used topically in the scientific community. And there’s sort of the illusion of a controversy in the natural health world, but in reality, I mean, it’s sort of an accepted fact, right?
And I mean, how was it discovered? They found that in the early 1900s those…people, I mean, America was not only a nation of drunks, but they were a nation losing their teeth, right? So in the American southwest, there was like a little community and they seemed to be immune to dental decay. And they didn’t really know why, but they had these brown spots on their teeth, right?
So they realized that the brown spots were coming from high amounts of fluoride in their water—naturally occurring fluoride. And so that’s how, like, the research was established. And then they figured out that they could adjust the concentration of fluoride to avoid the spots but still prevent decay.
So I mean, I know there’s a lot of controversies about throwing it in the water and so on, but what I found, I mean, from the research is it really works. Because what happens is the fluoride in the toothpaste combines with a substance that’s on your teeth and it transforms it into like a stronger substance so your teeth are resistant to acids. So not only acids in your food, but acids produced by the bacteria that caused decay.
So I’ve been doing it and I will say it outright. I mean, if you’ve had dental health problems, you know, use the fluoride in the toothpaste. That’s just not…not just my crazy opinion, I think it’s the opinion of the entire scientific community on that. And then I will also say that I think one of the reasons why you see more hippies with dental problems is they use all these natural toothpastes! And so if they have problems with their teeth, I mean, they are not doing something aggressive enough to prevent it. And I don’t think fluoride in toothpaste is very aggressive treatment. It’s just something, right?
Kevin: When you first said fluoride I was going to jump all over you because I thought you were going to talk about the reason for fluoride in the water and why that’s helpful for teeth and all that sort of stuff. We all know that this is just a way to get rid of industrial waste. I mean, this is not like…this is not a way for us to be able to get better teeth. I mean, there’s better ways to do that.
But you know look, just like there’s space for some of modern medicine in our regular lifestyles, there’s also space for maybe something like this. If you’ve tried everything and it’s just not working and you just can’t seem to get it together and you know you are miserable because your teeth are falling out of your mouth. then yeah. I mean, then let’s try something that has been put through the ringer in terms of science and see if it works for you.
Fredric: All right, good. I thought you are ready to kill me!
Kevin: I guess we can agree on that one.
Fredric: Yeah but…
Kevin: I guess we can agree on that one. I don’t know if hippies have more teeth problems than non-hippies. I mean, I think in our space we just see it all the time because people talk about it. I mean, I know a lot of people with really bad teeth, like full bridges and just, you know, dentures.
Fredric: Well one thing that I will say because you talked about it before, because I think…I mean, people from an older generation don’t floss, you know. They didn’t grow up with the, sort of the flossing habit. And that’s been confirmed to me by people belonging to that generation.
And our readers can tell us—do you think people of, let’s say you know, born in the ‘40s, in the ‘50s and the ‘60s…are you flossing less? Do you think people of your generation are not flossing as much as people born you know, starting in the ‘70s and ‘80s, where…I don’t know about you Kevin, but I was told about flossing. And I was just brought up with this idea that, you know, if I didn’t floss, something terrible would happen. And they were right.
Kevin: Yeah, flossing to me is one of those things where it was just engrained in my brain, just burned in my brain by my mom to the point where sometimes I revolt from it. So like, I floss straight for six months and I just stop because it’s like “Oh, my mom,” you know. “She wants me to floss!”
But yeah, I mean, I think flossing is one of those things, just looking at those…I mean, but again, another tangible measurement of dental health is the inflammation or lack of inflation in your gums. And flossing definitely, single handedly is one of those things that can help reduce the inflammation in your gums. Reduce the inflammation in your gums, you know, things are cool.
The other thing about dentistry that’s really unique and interesting and I’ve always wondered about the science, and I’ve read some of it and I still question it a little bit. But you know dental problems can be—particularly dental problems like plaque and things like that—can be directly related to heart issues as well. I always wonder if that’s just…I don’t know if that’s like a causation or a correlation kind of thing. It kind of makes me wonder…are the dental problems actually causing heart problems? Or is it an issue where, you know, they just happened to be the same in a weakened or slightly inflamed body. You know what I mean? I don’t know if you have any thoughts on that.
Fredric: I don’t. Actually my…I mean, nothing definitive, because some people say, “Yes, it’s a reflection of your overall health.” But I think, I mean, I think what happens in the mouth is kind of specific to that environment. In the sense that if your teeth are decaying, it doesn’t mean your bones are decaying. It just means…because of the fact of the oral environment is that it’s an open space, in contact with the outside world, right?
So there’s bacteria that proliferate there that are just not inside our bodies. And I think yes, there could be…maybe there’s a correlation and other things, but I think it doesn’t necessarily mean that if you’ve had problems with your teeth that something else is necessarily going on that’s related to that. I just have a hard time believing that. And I think it’s pretty…pretty shaky statement, as well.
But who knows? There might be things that are related to that, yes.
Kevin: Yeah, I definitely don’t think it’s one for one. So it’s like, if your teeth are falling out in your mouth your bones are disintegrating in your leg, you know what I mean? I definitely I don’t think that that’s a one for one thing.
But I do think that in terms of the mineral side of it, if you’re depleted in your minerals, and you are constantly depleted in your minerals, your HCL production isn’t up to speed, there are two things that can happen, 1.) Your body is going to look for minerals somewhere, and you can find them in the bones, so that can…it can find mineral there, and it may weaken…if your teeth are showing signs of weakness, you may have signs of weakness in your bones. But you can just take a scientific test and figure out if that’s true or not. And then you can prove me wrong or prove me right, it’s totally cool. And it may not even be directly related to your teeth, so who knows? At least you found out that your bones were weak and everything is good.
And the second thing is if your HCL production is low, you may not be able to kill some of the harmful bacteria that may be in your mouth that actually make it down into your stomach and then into your intestines. And that may be one of the reasons why they are saying, you know, this is a problem with the mouth as a direct relation to heart disease, because maybe there’s a little bit more inflammation that we don’t know about. This bacteria may be causing more problems than we even know, so just some thoughts there on that side, too.
Fredric: Sounds good. We want to hear from you again and leave your comments on the blog if you want to comment on these issues. Because we’d love to hear from you about this particular issue of dental health. And if you are not already subscribed on iTunes, check it out—our blog, or our podcast, sorry…
Kevin: Yes. And please give us a review.
Fredric: Yes, because it’s climbing. It’s climbing in the ratings on Renegade Health. Oh, what did I say?
Kevin: You said Renegade Health. It’s the top podcast on Renegade Health.
Fredric: It is definitely the top podcast on Renegade Health. But maybe—
Kevin: But we are climbing up on iTunes. So give us a rating. Tell us how much you liked us. If you don’t like it, tell us that you don’t like it, too, we don’t care. Our backs are thick enough, our skin is thick enough, our backs, I don’t know. We are falling apart.See you guys later, next week, bye.
Fredric: Okay, bye.