Natural Tooth Care: Four changes we’ve made

Most of our kids have good teeth, but one of our daughters came home from Ethiopia at 20 months of age with decayed teeth.  At age 2 we had four of her baby teeth capped and some others filled, and she’s continued to be most prone to tooth decay of all our kids.  Recently after yet another not-so-good dental exam, and observing that she also was developing dental fluorosis, I started doing some research on diet-related changes that we could make to help improve all of our dental health. Here’s what we’ve decided to do, with pertinent articles linked after each action point.

It remains to be seen whether these things will massively improve our tooth health and stave off cavities. But we’re giving it a try and see the potential for it to also improve our overall health. I wish I’d done this with our kids from the day they came to us. Thankfully we did do some things right.  We’ve used butter for years, we drink almost no soft drinks, and we have plenty of fruits and veggies in our diet.  But I’m optimistic that these new changes will help our family be even healthier.

If you’ve been reading this blog long, you’re probably wondering about the costs associated with these types of diet changes.  Costco is one of the most affordable places that I’ve found both for coconut oil and fish oil capsules.I’ve also gotten coconut oil at Azure Standard and on Amazon.   Raw milk is spendy– most weeks we drink only a couple gallons.  Some weeks we skip it.  Bone broth is very affordable– right now I’m making a big batch using turkey legs that I bought for $.88/lb.  But to put the changes into perspective, at our last dental visit, we spent about over $1000 on dental bills AFTER insurance, not to mention the pain of having multiple cavities filled.  We’re going to try paying just a bit more at the grocery store in hopes of paying less at the dentist.


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Also of interest in this discussion:  Can a Weston Price diet cure tooth decay?


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  1. Mary,
    From some of the reading I’ve been doing krill oil is much more concentrated and absorbable than regular fish oil. And… you aren’t burping “fishy” taste all day~a side effect I didn’t much appreciate 😉 Also we use Nature’s Way Organic Coconut oil~cold pressed, extra virgin, gmo, hexane, and bleach free. On sale it runs about $7.50 for a 32 oz jar which is cheaper than Costco. Hope this helps!

  2. I’m so glad to know that about the bone broth! Another great reason to not waste bones!

  3. Just wanted to chime in and let you know that the raw milk makes a HUGE difference. My son was about 3 when we started drinking raw milk and has teeth that naturally are very easily stained. At his first dental visit they did a color comparison thing and just made a note of his current tooth color to watch it. 1 year later his teeth were remarkably whiter and much stronger. Our dentist was blown away. He is now 5 and his teeth are pearly white and beautiful. It definitely makes a difference.

    • Wow, very cool! I do think my daughter’s fluorosis is already less pronounced– hoping it will go away!

    • Wow, I have not heard of that benefit of raw milk. I keep feeling like we should switch or at least try it but haven’t known exactly WHY. That’s a great reason.

    • *sigh* I wish my state allowed the sale of the raw milk. I keep hearing so many benefits of it, but ‘for my own safety’ I’m not allowed to purchase it.

      • I don’t know where you live, but some states allow raw milk to be sold “for animal consumption”.

  4. Anonymous Teen says:

    My family has found that brushing with baking soda has really helped us. Apparently Baking Soda helps reduce gum disease, and my teeth really do feel 10 times cleaner when I brush with regular baking soda than when I brush with even the healthiest of toothpastes. It doesn’t taste that bad. It’s not sweet, but if you like strong peppermint flavor you can put a drop of peppermint oil on your toothbrush and dip that in the baking soda. I also know someone who puts salt in theirs! It doesn’t taste that bad as is, though. I got used to the flavor very quickly and actually kind-of like it now! All you do is get your toothbrush wet somehow, and then dip it in the baking soda. My family keeps the baking soda in little plastic baggies, or in small bowls with lids.

    • FWIW re baking soda, you DON’T want to do this if you already have porcelain crowns – the baking soda is too abrasive for them. (I’m not sure how this applies to existing fillings – I have porcelain crowns on two upper front teeth, so since I’m not about to damage them I didn’t have reason to ask about how it would affect other restorations. My dentist didn’t seem biased, he approved another Tom’s of Maine formulation – I was only looking at those with the ADA seal/fluoride anyway – but he vetoed that ingredient and explained why.) It is fine to swish with a baking soda rinse, since you aren’t rubbing that against the porcelain.

  5. about the fish oil capsules, I tried those a few years ago and couldent tolerate them, it upset my stomach, and after a few days of thinking that I must have had a virus, I finnally figured it out.

  6. I use the baking soda and peppermint oil, but I’ve also added a little coconut oil. I didn’t know about swishing with it!
    I love making soup with the left over chicken or turkey bones, it’s so delicious. Do you also add a little vinegar to extract even more minerals? I just saw that Costco sold Coconut oil and I had already ordered it from Amazon, which was more expensive. Next time.

  7. Have you heard of Spry gum? We keep it in the car for those times when we are out and can’t brush. It (the xylotol in it) is supposed to actually help prevent decay.
    I’ve been making bone broth for a while, but just last week figured that if I make rice with it, I get a lot more of it into my kiddos. I made a chicken and rice soup that ended up having most of the broth absorbed into the rice but it was yummy.
    Thanks for the other ideas!

  8. Out of my 5 kids, most have had very healthy teeth. Like me, one didn’t have her first cavity until she was in her twenties. One daughter, though, at her first dental visit had 8 cavities, 2 that needed to be capped. She was also the same one who was finally diagnosed with Celiac at 18. Her teeth/gums have improved since going gluten free.

  9. Very interesting post thanks, Mary.
    I’m interested in the oil swishing, but reading the article it said that you must swish for 20 minutes… do you really manage to get your kids to swish that long? I can’t imagine having the patience to do that myself, let along getting my kids to!

    • That my immediate reaction as well. 20 minutes seems like a really long time and also seems like it would make your cheeks sore in a hurry. My teeth have always been a problem, so I’m willing to give it a try, but it sounds daunting.

      • My kids do it in the evening during story time– often just 10 minutes or so. All but one are cool with it, and like the idea of not having cavities. (The one who grumbles hasn’t had a cavity in his WHOLE life and thinks it is not necessary, but we just have him do it anyway.) Some of our more health-conscious teens swish 20 minutes– the teen girls esp like the whitening effect.

  10. Question about bone broth: do you think it is actually in the bone itself, or is it more in the marrow of the bone? I keep trying to make these, but I never have any leftover bones. The kid (who obviously has better teeth than I do) eats the bones. Literally, there are tiny slivers left on the plate when he is done, since he cracks them open to eat all the marrow out of the center. Chicken, turkey, ribs, pork chops, you name it. The only time I have bones left are when I cook a whole turkey and debone leftovers myself before he gets a chance to grab them. If the healthy bits are in the bones, I could probably still make some with the slivers and then just strain it carefully before using it.

  11. I use coconut oil as a spread on toast every evening for myself and daughter. Our town did away with flouride two years ago so if we want that, we have to purchase it in toothpaste. Enough fish oil in our diet.
    And check with purchasing a mouth irrigation system. These work fantastic especially when dealing with braces. Flossing tends to trip a lot of kids up when they have braces.

  12. I’m interested in doing this but everything I read says not to spit the oil in the toilet or down the sink. I know this is yucky, and possibly in the realms of TMI, but how do you dispose of yours?

  13. SUCH a good question! We actually got a clog in a bathroom sink from kids spitting in the sink. (As soon as the coconut oil cools, it gets solid and makes a plug that looks just like wax.) Anyway, we just spit in the kitchen trash, which is always lined with a sack.


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