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Paleo Diet, How To Keep Your Teeth Healthy And Strong

Updated on January 9, 2013

Epipaleolithic Skull, Coombe Capelle 7500 BC, Still has his teeth 9000 years later.

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Diet And Healthy Teeth

Keeping your teeth healthy in our modern world is hard. When archaeologists dig up some ancient, fossilized skeleton, usually the best preserved part is the teeth. Our ancient ancestors had strong, healthy teeth. How did they do it with no dentists, no fluoride, no tooth brushes or toothpaste?

We know what causes teeth to go bad, sugar and starchy foods, and diets low in essential nutrients. We have so much food that it makes us fat, but still don't get the nutrition we need.

I have had weak, bad teeth all of my life. Virtually every tooth I have has a filling or has had other work done on it. They ached, the gums bled, I needed to go to the dentist all the time.

Now my teeth are great. The only time I go to the dentist is if an old filling breaks down. The dentist comments favorably about my oral health. I am over fifty years old, but I still have all thirty-two teeth, even my wisdom teeth. My gums are good, don't bleed and are not receding.

What caused the change? Simple. I stopped eating food that is bad for my teeth. In my mid-thirties I went on a diet to lose some weight. The diet was low-carbohydrate, similar to Atkins but without all the various gimmick 'food' products the Atkins company sells. I cut out almost all prepared foods, bread and cereal. I ate vegetables, meat, fish and some fruit. No grains, no starches, low sugar.

I didn't start this diet with any special thought to my teeth, but the result was almost miraculous. Instead of being on a first-name basis with my dentist, and helping to put his kids through college, I became free of tooth pain for the first time in years.

Research suggests that bad teeth are bad for your general health. People with bad teeth are more likely to die from heart attacks!

And get arthritis!

Choosing what to eat is simple on this diet. Eat natural foods, like vegetables and meat, and avoid processed foods, especially those made from grains, potatoes, or any form of sugar.

Don't avoid the fatty meats, either. Fat is essential for your body to absorb nutrients, especially the fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, E and D. All those veggies you eat won't do you any good if they aren't eaten along with fat.

Our natural paleolithic diet provides full and healthy amounts of every nutrient we need. Save money on endless supplements by eating food that is already full of nutrition. There is precious little scientific evidence that any supplement actually improves your health or lengthens you life. The only time to take supplements is if you are living somewhere you simply can not find good food.

Highly acidic foods will also damage your teeth. Coke and coffee are examples. The acid gradually removes the enamel and can make your teeth soft and weak over many years. Other acidic foods are fruits, especially citrus fruits. Eat fruit, but excess fruit consumption, with its high sugar content and acid can lead to weaker teeth.

Tea, on the other hand, is linked to stronger teeth. Scientists believe that it may be the fluoride naturally present in tea leaves that causes this beneficial effect, since tea is, like coffee acidic, and you would expect it to be bad for teeth. Tea also has antibacterial properties, so this may also be beneficial to teeth, by killing the bacteria that cause cavities.

Dietary Causes of Tooth Decay

What causes tooth decay in the first place, and how does the paleolithic diet described above prevent it? Tooth decay is caused by a bacteria, Streptococcus mutans, which eats carbohydrates, basically sugars, and starches turned into sugars in our mouths.

When the bacteria digest the sugar they produce acids, mainly lactic acid. This acid is what actually eats away at your teeth. Avoiding sugar and starch is the primary way to avoid tooth decay, and eventually cavities. Brushing, flossing, and using fluoride treatments can help offset the negative effects of a bad diet. The lower the amount of sugar and starch in our diets, the more healthy our teeth will be.

For a full discussion of the causes of tooth decay, and how fluoride can help prevent it, follow this link.

Paleo Diet. What Do You Think?

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    • tmbridgeland profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Small Town, Illinois

      Hi Sandy. That was one of the first things I noticed when I went paleo. I have eaten low carb for about 15 years now, and my teeth and gums are still healthy. It works.

    • profile image

      Sandy Parlin 

      6 years ago

      I have been eating a low carb diet this past month and I noticed that my gums are miraculously in great shape! Usually they are tender and bleed sometimes. I googled it to see if there was a correlation and it brougt me to this article. There is truth to this indeed!

    • tmbridgeland profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Small Town, Illinois

      Going Gluten-free really helped with my migraines. Thanks for the comment.

    • SeekingMJ profile image


      6 years ago from Bryan, Texas

      Paleo has SO many healthful qualities. I tried it to see if it would help with my daily migraines. It did!

      It is just so hard to follow no one around you will support your choice.

      Thank you for sharing.

    • profile image

      Sean Butcher 

      7 years ago

      Yes, I agree. Our dental health really affects our health. I believe I watched that from the news years ago, that people with bad dental health are prone to heart attacks. My dentists always remind me of that since my first visit. I even teach my kids to eat healthy and avoid too much sugar. We don't buy candies and cereals much. Vegetables are always present in our fridge, too. My wife has beautiful set of teeth at 36. She's been taking care of her oral health since she was little, plus the fact that her uncle has a dental clinic in Myrtle Beach before.

    • tmbridgeland profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Small Town, Illinois

      fionageler, looks like from your hub on teen diet that we have similar opinions.

    • profile image


      7 years ago from london

      like i always say tea is better then coffee.

    • tmbridgeland profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Small Town, Illinois

      Hi LIVINGFOOD, thanks for the kind words.

    • LivingFood profile image


      7 years ago

      Another great reason to enjoy tea! Thanks for the info.


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