Teeth are a multi-layered hardened tissue buried in the gums. Once the dental enamel and dentin (the outermost and second layer of tooth structure) becomes affected by tooth decay, caused by the proliferation of bacteria on and between the teeth, a cavity or hole begins to form. Once that happens, most dental professionals agree that treatment (by filling the cavity) is the only effective approach. However, there is some anecdotal evidence that dental cavities can be potentially improved through home remedies such as dietary changes. Most importantly, proper oral hygiene and regular dental care can prevent most cavities in the first place.
Healing Your Cavities Naturally
1. Consult your dentist. If you have or suspect you have a cavity (e.g., you are experiencing toothache, tooth sensitivity, pain when eating or drinking, or stains), you should see a dental professional right away. The dental profession has a number of efficient ways to stop tooth decay and support the health of your teeth. Fillings are the most common form of treatment and involves removing the decayed part of the tooth and "filling" the region with composite resin, porcelain or other materials.
2. Get more vitamin D. Long known to be beneficial for general bone health, vitamin D boosts your calcium metabolism and induces cathelicidin, which is an antimicrobial peptide that attacks the bacteria known to cause dental cavities.
3. Consume more foods that contain vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 is a naturally occurring compound similar to vitamin K that is integral in the development of facial bones, including the teeth. As it is generally lacking in modern diets, making a concerted effort to increase your intake may help heal your cavities naturally.
4. Try fermented cod liver oil to get those fatty vitamins. Some studies suggest that cavities occur in part due to a lack of fatty vitamins (vitamins A, D, and K) in modern diets.
5. Consume foods high in calcium. Calcium helps strengthen teeth, so increase your calcium servings. The easiest way to do that is to consume more dairy products, like milk, cheese, and yogurt. Calcium can help remineralize your teeth.
6. Use mineralizing toothpaste. You can buy fluoride-free toothpastes that can also help remineralize the teeth and make them stronger. Note that these toothpastes may be more expensive than your usual brand.
7. Monitor the healing process. When you have a cavity, bacteria and acid will stain your tooth. Variation in color indicates the extent of the damage; a darker color means a larger cavity. When you are working to heal a cavity, check back and see if you notice a change in tooth color.
Preventing Cavities Naturally
1. Brush your teeth regularly. You should brush your teeth at least twice a day. Ideally, you should brush your teeth 30 minutes after eating and after drinking anything other than water. Keep the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to your gums and gently move the toothbrush back and forth in short strokes. Make sure you brush the inner, outer and chewing surfaces of the teeth.
2. Floss your teeth daily. Using about 18 inches of floss, wind most of the floss around the middle finger of one hand and the rest around the middle finger of the other hand. Hold on to the floss firmly between your thumb and your forefinger. Gently guide the floss between ALL your teeth using a gently back and forth motion. Be sure to curve the floss around the bottom of each tooth. Once the floss is between the teeth, use an up-and-down motion (gently!) to rub each side of each tooth. When you are done with one tooth, unwind more floss and move on to the next tooth.
3. Use fluoride. Fluoride in toothpaste and dental rinses replaces the calcium component in hydroxyapatite with fluorapatite, a substance that is resistant to demineralization by acids and therefore helps prevent cavities. Fluoride in toothpaste helps strengthens the enamel. Fluoride can also help the process of preventing cavities because it is anti-microbial, killing off the oral bacteria that is the underlying cause or cavities.
4. See a dentist regularly. Make sure you see a dentist and get your teeth professionally cleaned by a dental hygienist at least every six months. However, there is no one-size-fits-all in terms of how frequently you should go to the dentist. For example, if you have deep grooves between your teeth, your dentist may even want you to come in for a cleaning and inspection every four months.
5. Cut back on snacking and sipping. Snacking throughout the day or sipping drinks here and there mean your teeth are constantly at risk. Each time you eat or drink something (other than water), your mouth bacteria creates acids that work to break down your tooth enamel.
6. Reduce your intake of carbohydrates and sugar. Cavity-causing bacteria need food (namely, carbohydrates and sugar) to survive. They then turn that food into acid, which weakens the teeth. Limit your intake of carbs and sugar so that the bacteria do not have anything to feed on. This means trying to avoid all processed and prepackaged food, such as cookies, cakes, chips, crackers, etc.
7. Eat certain fresh fruits. Most fruit contain another type of sugar that is not as popular with bacteria so enjoy that apple, pear, peach or any other fruit. In addition, fresh fruits, along with vegetables, can increase saliva flow and help wash away food debris on you teeth.
8. Chew every bite completely. Chewing stimulates the production of saliva, which is naturally anti-bacterial and helps to wash away the food particles that stick to the teeth. Saliva contains calcium and phosphate and can help neutralize the acids in food and destroy some bacteria.