Category Archives: Teeth

Carb-Craving Olympians Have the Teeth To Prove It

BBC has the story:

The beaming smiles of gold-medal winners Usain Bolt, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Mo Farah are some of the defining memories of London 2012.

But a team at University College London says many competitors had dental problems.

“Our data and other studies suggest that, for a similar age profile, the oral health of athletes is poor. It’s quite striking,” said lead researcher Prof Ian Needleman.

He said eating large amounts of carbohydrates regularly, including sugary energy drinks, was damaging teeth.

Impaired immune system function associated with hard training may also play a role.

Many, if not most, high-level athletes think high carbohydrate consumption is necessary for optimal performance. They should know better than I. For their sake, I hope meticulous oral care—brushing, flossing, professional cleaning—helps preserve dental health.

tooth structure, paleo diet, caries, enamel

Cross-section of a tooth

Think Twice Before You Get Those Wisdom Teeth Removed

Yahoo News covered the story earlier this year. Dentist Jay Friedman says far too many third molars are extracted prophylactically. He got his ideas published in American Journal of Public Health way back in 2007. A snippet:

The British National Institute for Clinical Excellence is unequivocal in its recommendation, adopted by the National Health Service: “The practice of prophylactic removal of pathology-free impacted third molars should be discontinued. . . . There is no reliable evidence to support a health benefit to patients from the prophylactic removal of pathology-free impacted teeth.”9(p1–2)The conditions for which extraction is justified include nonrestorable dental caries, pulpal infection, cellulitis, recurrent pericoronitis, abscesses, cysts, and fractures.

Dr. Friedman says the risks of extraction outweigh the benefits in most cases.

Another Dentist Blames Neolithic Diet For Cavities

I found another dentist who believes cavities (dental caries) are a neolithic disease caused by a mismatch between the standard Western diet and human evolutionary biology. Meet Dr. Mark Burhenne:

It is generally well accepted that tooth decay, in the modern sense, is a relatively new phenomena. Until the rise of agriculture roughly 10,000 years ago, there was nearly no tooth decay in the human race. Cavities became endemic in the 17th century but became an epidemic in the middle of the 20th century (1950).

If we understand that tooth decay started when people started farming, rather than hunting and gathering, it’s clear that tooth decay is the result of a mismatch between what we’re eating and what our bodies are expecting us to eat based on how they evolved.


The recent changes in our lifestyle create a “mismatch” for the mouth, which evolved under vastly different environments than what our mouths are exposed to these days. Our mouths evolved to be chewing tough meats and fibrous vegetables. Sugar laden fruit was a rare and special treat for our paleolithic ancestors. Now, our diets are filled with heavily processed foods that take hardly any energy to chew — smoothies, coffees, and sodas high in sugar, white bread, and crackers to name just a few.

Read the whole thing.

It’s disconcerting that Dr. Burhenne says Streptococcus mutans (a germ linked to cavities) is the same germ that causes strep throat. That’s not right. Strep throat is usually caused by Streptococcus pyogenes, aka Group A Strep.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Paleo Diet May Be Better for Our Teeth

NIce teeth!

I just ran across this NPR story from February, 2013. Audrey Carlsen wrote it. An excerpt:

“Hunter-gatherers had really good teeth,” says Alan Cooper, director of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA. “[But] as soon as you get to farming populations, you see this massive change. Huge amounts of gum disease. And cavities start cropping up.”

And thousands of years later, we’re still waging, and often losing, our war against oral disease.

Our changing diets are largely to blame.

In a study published in the latest Nature Genetics, Cooper and his research team looked at calcified plaque on ancient teeth from 34 prehistoric human skeletons. What they found was that as our diets changed over time — shifting from meat, vegetables and nuts to carbohydrates and sugar — so too did the composition of bacteria in our mouths.

Not all oral bacteria are bad. In fact, many of these microbes help us by protecting against more dangerous pathogens.

That makes me wonder if antibacterial mouthwashes are a good thing for otherwise healthy people. Do they kill good bacteria, too?

Read the whole enchilada.

Meet The Paleo Hygienist

I just discovered Debbie the Paleo Hygienist and thought you might be interested. Debbie had left a comment at Dr. Cate’s blog post on flossing (Dr. Cate’s NOT a flosser). From Debbie’s “About” page:

I created this website, for both dental professionals and patients, to discuss oral health issues from a holistic health/nutrition/Paleo perspective.  After discovering and converting to a Paleo diet, I believe it is the optimal diet for oral and systemic health.  My overall goal is to bring fresh ideas to the table to spur new ways of thinking when it comes to the dental-systemic health connection, which I feel is much needed in our industry.

After obtaining my dental hygiene degree from Clark College in Vancouver, WA I started out in general dentistry, but soon moved to a periodontal practice where I have been a periodontal hygienist since early 2008.  Prior to dental hygiene, I obtained my BS degree in Community Health Education with a minor in Anthropology from Western Washington University.  I have always been passionate about health and nutrition and this site is the perfect opportunity for me to combine my knowledge of oral health with my passion for nutrition in order to help others achieve not only optimal oral health, but overall health as well!

Debbie is one of the most intellectual and science-oriented dental hygienists I’ve ever run across. I hope you benefit from her expertise.


PS: I still floss. My wife doesn’t, but uses a water-jet device that may be just as good, assuming flossing’s good. She had a close friend die of endocarditis, and one of the doctors on the case speculated suggested that flossing was the cause.

Eva Twardokens on Teeth Whitening, Amalgam Fillings, Wisdom Tooth Extractions, and More

See her Part 3 article at For example:

The priority with whitening should come after health is established. Then, whitening is appropriate, kinda. Zoom whitening is for instant-gratification folks with money to burn. If you are going to whiten your teeth, first just buy some Crest White Strips (around $40) and see how you like the result. If they work, you’re done. If not, you may invest in professional trays and bleach (around $400). The chemicals in these products are mostly the same, and the Zoom (not so magical) light simply adds the factor of heat, which we all know quickens chemical reactions.

There are really not many long term studies on what bleach does to your teeth, and the industry assumes it is pretty safe. Just know that if you are in the process of whitening your teeth, stay away from chromogenic foods like blueberries, red wine, and coffee. You can really embed that stain into your teeth if you do it along with a series of whitening.

The Road to Dental Health

Whole9 is publishing a two-part series on dental health written by Eva Twardokens.  Part 1 covers:

  • finding a dentist
  • scheduled professional teeth cleaning
  • baseline x-rays
  • night guards
  • flossing

Click for Part 1.

Stay tuned for Part 2 covering periodontal disease, fluoride, dental materials, mouthwash, insurance, and ZOOM whitening.

Oil Pulling for Dental Health


tooth structure, paleo diet, caries, enamel

Cross-section of a tooth

Medical student Kris Gunnars has a post on the topic, mentioning it’s a time-honored Indian folk remedy for treatment or prevention of dental problems.

I’d never heard of this before. I have no opinion on efficacy. Kris says to spit the oil out after swishing for 10–15 minutes because it contains “bacteria and nasty things.” I’d be tempted to swallow it unless I were concerned about the 180 calories in the oil. You’re swallowing those bacteria all day anyway. I imagine you have a mouth full of saliva after the first five minutes.

I’m filing this tidbit away for future reference.

Paleo Orthodontics: Dr. Mike Mew

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Orthodontist Mike Mew, BDS, MSc, did a presentation at Ancestral Health Symposium-2012 titled “Craniofacial Dystrophy—Modern Melting Faces.” Don’t let the title scare you off.

He says 30% of folks in Western populations have crooked teeth and/or malocclusion, and the mainstream orthodontic community doesn’t know why.  But they’ve got treatment for it!  Dr. Mew thinks he knows the cause and he shared it at the AHS-2012.  The  simple cure is “Teeth together.  Lips together.  Tongue on the roof of your mouth.”  And eat hard food.  Ideally in childhood before age 9.  Older people also benefit, he says.

I have no idea whether Dr. Mew is right or not.

I couldn’t get the video embedded here.  You can see it at The Paleo Periodical.

h/t PaleoPeriodical

Applying Paleo Diet Principles to Dentistry: Dr. John Sorrentino

tooth structure, paleo diet, caries, enamel

Cross-section of a tooth

When I think about a Paleolithic approach to dental disease, the first expert that comes to mind is dentist John Sorrentino, D.D.S.  The only other living “authority” that pops up is Stephan Guyenet, Ph.D., and he’s not even a dentist.  Stephan focused his literature review more on malocclusions than teeth per se, as I recall.  Dr. Sorrentino cites dentist Weston A. Price as a ground-breaker, documenting the deterioration of dental health as traditional cultures moved to modern diets loaded with refined and concentrated sugars and starches.

Fortunately for us, Dr. Sorrentino has blogged about the intersection of dentistry, evolution, and the paleo diet.  Malocclusion and caries (cavities) weren’t  problems for our Paleolithic ancestors, although “…they wore thru their enamel by the time they were middle aged.”  Then what happened?

Regarding caries, Dr. Sorrentino wrote:

Caries was just about non-existent because simple sugars and the refined carbohydrates that cause them were just not present in any Paleolithic diet.  Since the Paleolithic covered such a vast period of time and many, many different populations it is important to remember that there is no one “Paleolithic Diet,” but rather a continuum or “envelope” of certain related types of foodstuffs that were consumed. These included but were not limited to fish, shellfish, leafy green plants, root vegetables, and fruit in season.  It was interesting to note that there is decay in some lowland gorillas.  It is present mostly as interproximal decay on the upper anterior teeth.  It was speculated that sucking on fruit or raiding human garbage dumps, common in the area, caused this.  In either case it shows that our closest living relatives are not very well adapted to eat sugar either.

Read the rest.

paleo diet, teeth, smile

Are these healthy teeth a result of proper diet, dental self-care, dentistry, Photoshop, or a combination?

I was perusing his website looking for reliable information on flossing and Water Pik-like devices and their proper roles in periodontal disease and caries prevention.  I didn’t find much other than recommendations to eat a paleo diet, naturally low in concentrated sugars and refined starches, especially grains.

Steve Parker, M.D.