Plant-Based Diets: Dental Health

Plant-Based Diets: Dental Health
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Those eating more sour fruit may risk greater erosion of their tooth enamel (especially if teeth are brushed in a softened state), but there’s a simple solution.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

The foods found most protective against oral cancer include raw and green/leafy vegetables, tomatoes, citrus, and carrots. Citrus fruits are acidic, though. Fine; less oral cancer. But, what about the health of the teeth themselves? Might eating lots of sour fruit eat away at our enamel?

Well, early case reports that raised red flags involved things like “sucking [on] lemon wedges”—not, evidently, a good thing for your teeth. Or, “rampant” cavities, as a result of the “bizarre habit of sucking bananas.” Turns out you’re not supposed to give your preschooler a banana to suck on day and night as a pacifier. Juicing 18 oranges a day for a decade or two can also take quite a toll.

The conventional wisdom that fruit juice may be bad for your teeth, but not whole fruit, was challenged recently. The ability of fruits and their juices to erode enamel appears to be comparable, whether you’re eating grapes or grape juice, carrots or carrot juice, oranges, apples, tomatoes, or raisins.

Now, fruits and juices weren’t as bad as soda. Diet Coke takes the title for softening teeth the quickest. But, it was a surprise that fruits and their juices had comparable effects—a result no doubt celebrated by the study’s funders, the Sugar Bureau, as well as the Biscuit, Cake, Chocolate and Confectionery Association.

The spin the Dental Association put on it is interesting: If “eating fruits and vegetables as ‘whole’ foodstuffs may cause similar demineralisation in enamel to when they are consumed as a juice,” then, hey, maybe fruit juice is not so bad at all.

Of course, the glass-half-empty interpretation is that, wait a second, fruit is as bad as juice? Maybe, fruit is worse than we thought for our enamel. And, indeed, the latest research studying whether or not the consumption of fruit is cavity-causing found that “the frequency of fruit consumption was associated with higher odds” of cavities—though they acknowledge that “the role of fruit sugars in initiating dental [cavities] in humans has [certainly long] been a subject of debate.” But, is this going to be a problem for those eating like this, as opposed to this?

“Among vegetarians, significantly more frequent consumption of sour products (predominantly raw vegetables and fruit and tomatoes) was observed.” Though “[t]he level of oral hygiene [was] similar in both groups,” those eating vegetarian did have more erosive lesions on their teeth—but did not find enough to be statistically significant, unlike the other study. No differences in plaque, gingivitis, cavities, or tooth loss, but they did find a “greater incidence of demineralization and white spots in [the] vegan subjects compared to [the] omnivorous ones,” which is a marker of greater acid erosion.

So, what should people do? There are a number of “foods and drinks that have the potential to cause dental erosion”—both unhealthy foods, like soda and sour candy, as well as healthy foods, such as fresh fruit, and some herbal teas. In the biggest study to date, consuming citrus fruits more than twice a day was associated with 37 times greater odds of dental erosion, compared to those who consumed citrus fruits less often. It also appears risky to consume apple cider vinegar or sports drinks once a week or more often, or soft drinks daily. These habits resulted in the odds of erosion being ten, four, and four times greater, respectively, than when the habit did not exist.

So, should we avoid eating citrus? No. Even the study that found more cavities in kids eating more fruit concluded that even though “the consumption of fruit might not be considered completely safe to eat in relation to [cavities], we are not in a position to suggest that fruit consumption should be curtailed as a [cavity]-preventive measure. At this stage, of greater importance is the preventive advice that children should brush their teeth twice [a day with] fluoride toothpaste.”

In fact, that study that looked at the erosive potential of fruit was done on folks without using fluoride toothpaste. Just don’t brush right after you eat the fruit, though. You have to wait at least 30 minutes. See, people have this “misconception that brushing immediately after consuming acidic food and beverage[s] would prevent the damaging effects of dental erosion,” when “[I]n fact, the tooth surface when softened by acids from food and beverage is more vulnerable to damage by tooth brushing.” 

They did this study where they had some folks swish some acidic solution—in this case diet Sprite, and then brush immediately after, or 10 minutes after, 20 minutes after, 30, or a full hour after. As you can see, if you drink soda without brushing at all, you may lose some of your teeth. But, you can double or triple that damage if you then start brushing your teeth when they’re in that acidified, softened state.

They say we should wait at least 30 minutes; probably a whole hour, to be safe. Instead of brushing, after eating anything sour, we should “rinse [our mouth] with water to help neutralize the acids.”

Is there any evidence to support this? No, unfortunately. “Due to the limited number of clinical studies performed to investigate the association between diet and dental erosion, prevention and treatment (from a dietary perspective) are based [really] on common sense, rather than [an] evidence-based approach[es].” In fact, there’s not a single study concerned with dentist advice for “dietary change aimed at preventing tooth erosion.” But, rinsing with water after eating or drinking anything acidic is the best advice we have so far.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Tambako the Jaguar via flickr, and Knutux via Wikimedia

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

The foods found most protective against oral cancer include raw and green/leafy vegetables, tomatoes, citrus, and carrots. Citrus fruits are acidic, though. Fine; less oral cancer. But, what about the health of the teeth themselves? Might eating lots of sour fruit eat away at our enamel?

Well, early case reports that raised red flags involved things like “sucking [on] lemon wedges”—not, evidently, a good thing for your teeth. Or, “rampant” cavities, as a result of the “bizarre habit of sucking bananas.” Turns out you’re not supposed to give your preschooler a banana to suck on day and night as a pacifier. Juicing 18 oranges a day for a decade or two can also take quite a toll.

The conventional wisdom that fruit juice may be bad for your teeth, but not whole fruit, was challenged recently. The ability of fruits and their juices to erode enamel appears to be comparable, whether you’re eating grapes or grape juice, carrots or carrot juice, oranges, apples, tomatoes, or raisins.

Now, fruits and juices weren’t as bad as soda. Diet Coke takes the title for softening teeth the quickest. But, it was a surprise that fruits and their juices had comparable effects—a result no doubt celebrated by the study’s funders, the Sugar Bureau, as well as the Biscuit, Cake, Chocolate and Confectionery Association.

The spin the Dental Association put on it is interesting: If “eating fruits and vegetables as ‘whole’ foodstuffs may cause similar demineralisation in enamel to when they are consumed as a juice,” then, hey, maybe fruit juice is not so bad at all.

Of course, the glass-half-empty interpretation is that, wait a second, fruit is as bad as juice? Maybe, fruit is worse than we thought for our enamel. And, indeed, the latest research studying whether or not the consumption of fruit is cavity-causing found that “the frequency of fruit consumption was associated with higher odds” of cavities—though they acknowledge that “the role of fruit sugars in initiating dental [cavities] in humans has [certainly long] been a subject of debate.” But, is this going to be a problem for those eating like this, as opposed to this?

“Among vegetarians, significantly more frequent consumption of sour products (predominantly raw vegetables and fruit and tomatoes) was observed.” Though “[t]he level of oral hygiene [was] similar in both groups,” those eating vegetarian did have more erosive lesions on their teeth—but did not find enough to be statistically significant, unlike the other study. No differences in plaque, gingivitis, cavities, or tooth loss, but they did find a “greater incidence of demineralization and white spots in [the] vegan subjects compared to [the] omnivorous ones,” which is a marker of greater acid erosion.

So, what should people do? There are a number of “foods and drinks that have the potential to cause dental erosion”—both unhealthy foods, like soda and sour candy, as well as healthy foods, such as fresh fruit, and some herbal teas. In the biggest study to date, consuming citrus fruits more than twice a day was associated with 37 times greater odds of dental erosion, compared to those who consumed citrus fruits less often. It also appears risky to consume apple cider vinegar or sports drinks once a week or more often, or soft drinks daily. These habits resulted in the odds of erosion being ten, four, and four times greater, respectively, than when the habit did not exist.

So, should we avoid eating citrus? No. Even the study that found more cavities in kids eating more fruit concluded that even though “the consumption of fruit might not be considered completely safe to eat in relation to [cavities], we are not in a position to suggest that fruit consumption should be curtailed as a [cavity]-preventive measure. At this stage, of greater importance is the preventive advice that children should brush their teeth twice [a day with] fluoride toothpaste.”

In fact, that study that looked at the erosive potential of fruit was done on folks without using fluoride toothpaste. Just don’t brush right after you eat the fruit, though. You have to wait at least 30 minutes. See, people have this “misconception that brushing immediately after consuming acidic food and beverage[s] would prevent the damaging effects of dental erosion,” when “[I]n fact, the tooth surface when softened by acids from food and beverage is more vulnerable to damage by tooth brushing.” 

They did this study where they had some folks swish some acidic solution—in this case diet Sprite, and then brush immediately after, or 10 minutes after, 20 minutes after, 30, or a full hour after. As you can see, if you drink soda without brushing at all, you may lose some of your teeth. But, you can double or triple that damage if you then start brushing your teeth when they’re in that acidified, softened state.

They say we should wait at least 30 minutes; probably a whole hour, to be safe. Instead of brushing, after eating anything sour, we should “rinse [our mouth] with water to help neutralize the acids.”

Is there any evidence to support this? No, unfortunately. “Due to the limited number of clinical studies performed to investigate the association between diet and dental erosion, prevention and treatment (from a dietary perspective) are based [really] on common sense, rather than [an] evidence-based approach[es].” In fact, there’s not a single study concerned with dentist advice for “dietary change aimed at preventing tooth erosion.” But, rinsing with water after eating or drinking anything acidic is the best advice we have so far.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Tambako the Jaguar via flickr, and Knutux via Wikimedia

Doctor's Note

That was a long one! Normally I’d split this information up across a few videos into a series, but I didn’t want to leave people hanging. And, I figure this is easier to share with friends and family if it’s all packaged into one video. Well, almost all—for other aspects of oral health, check out my video Plant-Based Diets: Oral Health.

What’s so great about citrus? I’ve got a bunch of interesting videos coming down the pike, but here are a few current ones that hint at the benefits:

Anything else people eating healthy diets should be aware of? The most important consideration is vitamin B12. See my blog posts Vitamin B12: how much, how often? and Vegan B12 deficiency: putting it into perspective.

I imagine there are those not happy with my mention of the F-word, but I am not convinced by the concerns that have been raised about fluoride (see my Ask the Doctor entry The dangers of fluoride (tap water fluoridation)?)—though it may be possible to get too much in tea, especially for children (see my video Overdosing on Tea).

Also, be sure to check out my associated blog posts for further context: Do Vegans Get More Cavities? and Hibiscus Tea: The Best Beverage?

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

88 responses to “Plant-Based Diets: Dental Health

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  1. Dr Greger – I have always felt and your video seems to confirm this, that drinking water after eating is beneficial, especially if its alkaline water, which is what I drink. I dont think there are any studies that specifically show that alkaline water reduces the risk of cavities, but from your video today, I suppose one could conclude that it would.

    Drinking alkaline water throughout the day, and even when waking in the night, taking a drink of alkaline water may decrease any acidity buildup.

    Thank you for your continued daily informational tidbits.




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      1. Could someone help clarify? I drink unsweetened mild lemon water throughout the day; I love how it tastes and heard it was good for me. I’ve heard that the acid in lemons ends up having an alkalinizing effect. Should I be using baking soda in my water instead?




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        1. I think it depends how much lemon you add to your water. If it reduces its pH to 5.5 or less, then you’re adding too much. That’s the point where cavities start forming. You can buy some pH test strips either on-line or at some health food stores to find out if you’re adding an appropriate amount. It might take a bit to get used to the taste of baking soda in water.




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          1. I added the least amount of lemon juice to tap water that I could without using any special equipment (I’m guessing about 4 drops of lemon juice to 12 oz tap water) and the pH dropped from 6 to 5. I repeated the first step once again and the pH dropped from 5 to 4.
            It would be pretty difficult to add any appreciable amount of lemon juice to (unbuffered) water without the pH dropping lower than 5.5.




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        2. Instead of adding baking soda to your water, I would suggest drinking your lemon water through a straw. I drank lemon water for more than a year–using a straw–and the dentist never mentioned noticing any accelerated enamel erosion. I also rinsed with regular water, if I thought I got some lemon water on my teeth.
          I personally wouldn’t just add baking soda to my water. Since lemon juice (very acidic) is apparently alkalizing for the body, (odd, I know), then maybe baking soda has an acidic effect on the body. Plus, your stomach pH can range from 1 to 5 acidic) depending on whether or not you are digesting food. The low pH is necessary for initial breakdown of proteins. Perhaps slurping a baking soda solution throughout the day would affect your efficiency of digesting proteins.




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          1. “Since lemon juice (very acidic) is apparently alkalizing for the body, (odd, I know)”

            Odd and doubtful. An acid would be “alkalizing for the body” if some other process were involved like, oh I don’t know, decalcification?! From where does this idea comes from?




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    1. Not brushing per se; when you eat acidic foods, your enamel becomes softened for a period of time. It is brushing while your enamel is in this “softened state” that the erosion occurs. Giving your enamel time to harden back up before brushing will help to prevent the erosion. I have also seen the advice that if you do need to brush right away, rinsing with a baking soda solution prior to brushing may help. You do not want to stop brushing altogether! The bacterial buildup that would ensue would result in a lot more erosion.




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  2. I’ve found rinsing with a dilute solution of baking soda (1/2 tsp in a cup of water) after eating foods – oranges, or even salads with a lemon juice based dressing, as extremely effective in reducing and even eliminating tooth sensitivity, both in the short and long term. Certainly it’s worked far better than any dental product I’ve tried, many of which seem both toxic and ineffective. I’d bet a dilute solution of baking soda works a lot better than rinsing with plain water, as it will neutralize any acids, even those in relatively inaccessible areas, almost instantaneously.




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    1. Lovely! I’m going to give a baking soda rinse a try… This video for me was long-awaited because I want to take great care of my teeth, but they do feel slightly more sensitive after going vegan.

      Also, I’m curious which herbal teas may cause dental erosion. Anybody have some info on this?




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  3. Dr. Greger – I am a vegan Family Physician (Edmonton, Canada) and take the opportunity to thank you for your comprehensiveness and dedication in sharing essential nutritional facts. I was inspired by you, as well as some other remarkable physicians (e.g. late Dr. David Servan- Schreiber) and provide free nutritional and healthy life style lectures. Evidenced-based knowledge about healthy life style is indeed one of the majo tools for preventative medicine in which nutrition plays the dominant role.

    As for Oral Hygiene – I’d recommend to mouthwash with alkaline water (cup of water with a pinch of baking soda – lasts for the whole day) after every meal. Teeth brush with a gently teeth paste (containing fluoride), flossing and rinsing with Listerine mouthwash before bed time.

    In light of your last video – can you comment on that?

    Specifically, what are the potential benefits and possible harms in using baking soda and Listerine?

    Thank you in the name of many who cherish your work.




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      1. Chloride is toxic too! And you put it on your food… as Sodium Chloride. Fluoride treatment is usually in the form of sodium fluoride. Remember salt can kill you as well as drinking too much water. Is water poison?




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        1. Is arsenic not poison because too much water can kill you? 5 grams of sodium fluoride will kill you. Will five grams of sodium chloride kill you? You’re a doctor…I would have expected a MUCH better argument from you.




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          1. Actually, sodium fluoride’s toxicity is rated at 52mg/kg. So 5.2g will have a 50% chance of killing a 100kg person. However, we don’t consume that much.

            Capsaicin’s LD50 is actually lower than sodium fluoride. 4.7g is enough to cause a 50% chance of death in a 100kg person.

            The point is that just because something is toxic in certain doses doesn’t mean it’s toxic in other doses. There are 4.0mg of sodium fluoride in a liter of drinking water. A 100kg person would have to drink about 1300 liters of water before risking poisoning.

            Also, if the fluoride in water were as toxic as you fear, then we would see more fluoride related deaths.




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            1. You don’t see the deaths because it kills you slowly. That is the main reason has been added to the water in the first place. Depopulation. There are several videos on youtube done by very respectful people that will help you to understand. Gerson for Cancer Patients don’t even recommend to shower on normal fluoridated water think about drinking it. It has been shown also from many studies to low the immune system.




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              1. Depopulation??? The Democrat sponsored immigration laws of 1990 now bring about 3 million immigrants into the US each year, including those with AIDS, since AIDS was specifically removed as a disqualifying factor for applicants. If it’s a conspiracy to depopulate, it’s all about depopulating the race that founded the entire damned country. To hell with Democrats.




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        2. the type of fluoride they put in tooth paste and mouthwash is synthetic and toxic. It actually WEAKENS the teeth because instead of your teeth remineralizing with the NATURAL minerals that your teeth require, the fluoride goes in its place. The fluoride makes teeth very hard, but VERY breakable. It even causes dental fluorosis! Not good advice to use fluoride.

          I brush with bentonite clay at least an hour after I eat. I drink green/fruit smoothies in large amounts on a daily basis and only recently started using a glass straw. All I eat are greens, fruits, and nuts, seeds, legumes and things like that. Prior to going vegan, I had some dental issues and had a cavity that was having an “eye kept on it.” After about 2 years of being a vegan and a year of being a WFPB vegan, I had insurance again and was able to go back to the dentist. They said my teeth look really good and can tell I take good care of them. And that cavity I had was GONE! My tooth had healed itself. Based on what I’ve read, I can conclude that due to my plant based diet, I was getting lots of natural minerals and my body had everything it needed to take care of itself, teeth and all.

          I’d like to see a study not funded by the cakes and candies industries or whatever, that focused on those getting the most nutrition vs. those not and compare oral health.

          Life is too short to worry about eating an apple. I trust in nature and my experience. The people I know who have breaking teeth and multiple fillings and root canals, all eat an omnivorous diet and brush with tradition toothpaste containing fluoride. When I lived that way (though I was a vegetarian most of my life but not a healthy one when I was an adult!) that’s when I had oral problems too.




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            1. Hi, darlenw. Yes, bentonite clay is aluminum-based. It is highly absorbent, and I am not sure how much, if any, of the aluminum would be absorbed if used for brushing teeth and not swallowed. There appears to be little research on the topic. This abstract suggests that bentonite is only toxic if inhaled: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/08958378.2016.1240727
              I personally do not like clay toothpastes, because I find them too abrasive. I tried one, and my teeth became much more sensitive almost immediately. When I discontinued use, the sensitivity declined. That is my personal experience, and not at all scientific, but I hope it helps!




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              1. Oh my Christine, thank you so much for responding, I truly appreciate it. I do have another question on the same topic;  how do you and the team feel about oregano oil pulling for heathy gums and minimizing oral bacteria.
                I am so grateful for all you do… all this wonderful information has changed/improved my life. God bless you all.

                Darlene




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    1. Just curious why you think fluoride is necessary when so many studies suggest not? Also why do you think people should use Listerine? I don’t feel it is necessary for good oral hygiene. If you have a good diet and floss and brush (with non fluoride toothpaste!) you don’t need some chemical mouthwash! I also use to be a dental assistant and although most dentists push fluoride, (probably cause they make a lot of money doing treatments) I prefer not to use it and tell our dental office not to use it on my children and husband! Can’t believe they used it on my husband last time and he has fluorosis!!!




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      1. It’s insane to recommend fluoride. The stuff is horrible and it causes teeth to remineralize with IT instead of the natural minerals your teeth are supposed to remineralize with. The fluoride (which is synthetic poison and not even real fluoride) causes teeth to become hard but VERY breakable.
        Listerine is not only a product of extreme cruelty as it’s tested on animals, but it’s extremely harmful. It gets rid of the good bacteria in our mouths that we require to maintain actual oral health and protection. Not to mention that there is alcohol in it and when alcohol comes into contact with the saliva, it creates a carcinogenic effect with the exception of that which is in red wine due to antioxidant content seemingly counteracting it.




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  4. My dentist always comments on how my teeth are in the top 1% :-) I’ve had a high fruit diet for 20 years. Yes I can notice that my teeth are more sensitive after citrus though. But I avoid brushing them after citrus like the video says :-)

    Dr Greger, keep researching fluoride. There’s a BIG difference between Calcium Fluoride and Sodium Fluoride. Sodium Fluoride is some scary stuff. I’ve always avoided it and have perfect teeth. Unfortunately, recently, my city added it to the water and, although I don’t drink it or use fluoridated toothpaste (only shower in it), I’ve noticed a little Dental Fluorosis (white flecks on my teeth in my case) in the morning. Luckily due to the reduced levels of Fluoride in my system, it fades during the morning, but now I see many people with severe white flecks on their teeth. Something I never saw before the Fluoride was added. I’ve watched documentaries on the stuff. Scary.




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    1. There are many misconceptions about fluoride. Fluoride is not necessarily toxic. It depends on the concentration. The drinking water in Denver, CO, for example, contains naturally-occurring fluoride very close to the levels that are recommended for drinking water fluoridation (0.7 mg/L to 0.9 mg/L). The water company (Denver Water) actually removes some fluoride when the naturally-occurring levels exceed the recommended levels. This water comes from the Platte River which is used by many other cities on down the line. This water supply has been used by millions of people over 100’s of years without problems related to fluoride.
      I find that the public’s perspective is that the government adds all of
      this fluoride to all of the drinking water. That’s simply not true. The communities that add it are using a target value that’s very close to a natural concentration of fluoride, just not the natural concentration in their particular water supply.




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      1. Yes, but they’re not adding natural fluoride are they? They’re adding hexafluorosilicic acid from China. A dirty byproduct from the fertilizer industry contaminated all sorts of wonderful things.

        Why add it to the water anyway when it is in the toothpaste? Study after study has shown that topical application is all that is needed, and internal application is an unnecessary risk.

        The biggest misconception about fluoride is the misconception that adding a pharmaceutical product to the water supply is the best method for giving the correct dose to a public that hasn’t even given their consent.




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  5. Very important to note that the study does not specify if the fruit juice was; fresh pasteurized, or fresh concentrated juice. Though these two should not be confused with fresh squeezed straight from a juicer. All three types are different and have different effects on the body. It is well known that concentrated fruit juice ravages teeth much like sugar (highly acidic).

    Fluoride is toxic, and is usually coupled with SUGAR, dyes, pork fat, among other substances in regular toothpaste and should not be consumed or used. Fluoride toothpaste comes with a warning in the usa as its a poison.




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    1. The warning about fluoride is so you don’t swallow the toothpaste which can be highly concentrated in fluoride. Simply passing it over your teeth then spitting it out won’t hurt you.




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      1. Wrong again. It gets absorbed by the oral cavity. The oral cavity is the first line of nutrients absorption and definitely can absorb fluoride. Why all this push on fluoride when there is not a single study that shows it helps teeth?? Because the Lying government told you so? Fluoride has been used by governments like was used by Hitler. Go and research on the Illuminati Agenda and the New World Order… People do not use Fluoride, do not drink fluoridated water and do not use Toothpaste with Fluoride. Private clinics and Hospitals that cures Cancer Naturally do not even let patients shower in fluoridated water as it gets absorbed and lowers the immune system.




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        1. Lt. Nimitz/Pedecia: Did you know that many natural streams/water have fluoride in them? And that fluoride is one of the main substances our bones are made out of. When governments attempt to add fluoride to drinking water, the goal is to add enough fluoride to match that found naturally in normal/untreated water.
          .
          I’m not trying to make the argument that fluoridating our drinking water is good. (I don’t know one way or another. I think the issue is complicated.) My goal is to provide some balance to the picture as posts such as yours paint fluoride as being a poison and all bad. Clearly that’s a misunderstanding about nature and our biology.
          .
          If you are interested, you can learn more about this topic and bone health in general from the book: Building Bone Vitality: https://www.amazon.com/Building-Bone-Vitality-Revolutionary-Osteoporosis–Without/dp/0071600191/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1466355009&sr=8-1&keywords=building+bone+vitality




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          1. Thea, the crap they add in tap water and toothpastes is NOT fluoride. It’s a synthetic, lab produced toxin that they create to mimic fluoride and is said to be so bad that it actually lowers IQ levels. I’ve read from several places about how they used to put the chemical in the drinking water of those in the concentration camps during WWII to try to create a more docile and controllable people. Some have speculated those same reasons for our government putting “fluoride” in our water today. Furthermore, that is flawed logic because you can still get spring water and the fluoride levels are not the same. Fluoridated water and oral products literally cause a condition called fluorosis. It’s insane that they still add this and promote this. Many dental experts advise to stay away from this synthetic fluoride as while the commercials claim it makes teeth harder, what they fail to mention is it makes them much, much more breakable and thus weaker.
            Our teeth are meant to remineralize by our saliva. Having a diet rich in minerals would be most beneficial. There needs to be more research done on natural oral care but what money is there in that.




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      2. Yes it will hurt your. First, your mouth absorbs things very easily, in fact, digestion begins in your mouth. Some supplements are even meant to be taken under the tongue because they get in the blood stream faster this way. Moreover, fluoride (or at least the synthetic toxin they call fluoride that they add to tooth pastes, mouthwashes, and tap water) is harmful to the teeth. Our teeth are meant to remineralize and our saliva does this naturally. But when we introduce fluoride, instead of using the natural minerals in our saliva that teeth are supposed to be built with, the fluoride takes its place. It does indeed make teeth very hard, but also very breakable! So essentially, it weakens them and makes them more vulnerable.




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  6. For the first time in decades, I had zero cavities at my last checkup. Perhaps, it is because I’ve been eating vegan and avoiding wheat as a way to reduce pain and inflammation.

    As for brushing, my dentist and periodontist said it’s not as important to use a fluoride tooth paste as it is to brush, even with plain or filtered water twice a day with flossing and brushing at night. This works! But, diet is also critical and eating healthy vegan has worked for me.




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    1. I also wonder if straw drinking would decrease the negative effect. Are there any comparative studies on dental effects from straw vs non-straw drinking of fruit juice/smoothies?




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    2. I’ve always thought it was funny that some people think that if they drink something through a straw, that it wouldn’t get on their teeth. It’s just impossible.




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      1. actually he had a video out today that shows that straw use does REDUCE erosion caused by acids. Yes of course it does not eliminate it from touching your teeth at all, but it is limited by using the straw. And if you use straws, glass straws are the best for you and the environment. They are reusable (clean with pipe cleaner type brush) and they come with a lifetime warranty against breakage.
        Here is a link to the video on his YouTube channel. Part about the straw use I believe was around the five minute mark




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    3. My dentist says yes. If the straw is shoved all the way to the back and you take short sips and short swallows, you can avoid the teeth entirely, but this is difficult to achieve and becomes tiresome very fast. If done correctly, you will not taste much. Taking bigger sips/gulps is easier but you will get the rear of the back molars exposed. Even if the teeth are avoided completely, some acids can remain on the tongue and make their way back to the teeth via saliva, which is why the water rinse immediately afterwards will help but make sure you swallow the water, as opposed to spitting.




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  7. What an incredible resource you are. Thank you very much for your great work. In your presentation regarding “Plant based diets and oral health” coffee was not mentioned. Where might coffee stack up when compared to fruit juice, or soda in terms of it’s erosive potential?




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  8. Should be important to note that a poor diet is associated with high risk of cavities vs a healthy diet has been shown to prevent and sometimes reverse cavities.




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    1. I have never heard that reversal of cavities was possible. My dentist denies that, but it goes against the principle of the body trying to heal itself. Do you have a source for this? Thanks.




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      1. melanie: I can’t provide you with a source, but I can repeat what my dentist told me. He said that they used to think that once a cavity formed, there was nothing that could be done about it. But now they have evidence that small cavities at least can be reversed. However, I was not given a site/source for this information. He also did not seem to know if we know what conditions need to be in order for cavities to reverse. I’m sharing this with you so that you know at least one other person has heard this same type of news.

        I think it is really exciting and wish they would do a lot more research on it.




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  9. So if we follow the logic presented in the studies, should I NOT drink coffee/tea/wine right AFTER as well as BEFORE brushing my teeth? Seems like the dentin would be more easily stained or otherwise damaged either way.




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  10. I remember in the 90s, in Victoria, BC (Canada), there was a campaign to encourage people to eat cheese after a meal, claiming it helped reduce cavities. Or perhaps it was an apple and cheese. Looking back at it now, it seems like a bizarre recommendation, and I question what science was behind it and who funded it. It certainly hasn’t lasted the test of time.




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  11. I’ve personally experienced this problem with my teeth. After eating a vegan diet high in fruits and veggies for 20 years, I began to get cavities that resulted from the loss of tooth enamel. I’m glad you’re reporting on this here. I like to use a Water Pik to rinse my mouth after eating, but now I know to wait awhile before brushing. I was doing that wrong!




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  12. On page 169 in Dr. McDougall’s book, the Starch Solution, he says:”the methylcobalamin and hydroxycobalamin forms of B12 are better choices.” I respect both of you and would like clarification. Thank you




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  13. Chinese Taoist tradition use making of saliva enough to swallow loudly and at least 3 times with tongue tip to the anterior palate to promote health of the “kidney system” ( one of the 5 that include every parts and tissue of the whole body) that includes and support the bone, whose outward (glory) sign is the teeth; the the brain and all the nerves. Saliva is alkaline, has substances for immune defence, enzyme for digestion, neutralise toxins, has 27 names down the 2000+ yrs of history ,describing it in the Chinese health and Taoist literature–showed its significance.
    There are popular Chinese exercises described, to make more saliva, if it does not flow naturally–by swirling one’s tongue over all the surfaces of teeth, naming
    “red dragon (tongue)churning the sea (of saliva)”

    Dr Gregor , is there studies about the caries preventing effects of saliva?




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    1. My old dentist told me that keeping your saliva healthy was the most important think for your teeth. He advised eating meat and no starches. Haha! He tried. Never said anything about alkalinity, but I soon got into Macrobiotics and learned about it there. It takes a lot to figure this thing out. Thank you Dr.Greger for your posts.




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  14. Fluoride in drinking water and toothpaste is poison! There’s all kinds of documentaries, studies and evidence that support my statement.




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  15. Why would they encourage fluoride? Fluoride is bad for you. Wild animals do not brush their teeth and have no problem with dental hygiene. What about all of Weston Price’s work showing that native cultures eating their native diets had almost no incidence of dental problems. Most of them didnt practice what modern day considers good oral hygiene. I think when you brush your teeth, especially if you use a standard tooth paste, it disrupts the natural mouth flora.




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    1. Lyn-doe:

      Some thoughts for you:

      1) Wild animals do not eat the types of unnatural foods that humans today eat

      2) Dogs, who tend to eat the processed types of foods that humans now eat, do have dental problems.

      3) “native cultures” would not have been eating candy bars and chips and TV dinners, etc. Thus, it would make sense that they would not have dental issues just like wild animal’s teeth seem to do pretty well – at least during their relatively short lifetimes.

      4) given that modern human eating habits do lead to dental problems, using having a substance that is clinically proven to prevent dental problems sounds like a good thing to me.

      5) Health information or guidance from the Weston Price foundation/website is of highly questionable value. I refer you to the scholarly work posted called Primitive Nutrition on YouTube if you want to learn about the weaknesses of the information given on the Weston Price Foundation site. Plant Positive covers much more than just Weston Price, but you can search until you find the Weston Price material (again, only if you are interested of course).

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egqf7k5Lzhk&list=PLCC2CA9893F2503B5

      Good luck to you.




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      1. Ah, found it. While I highly recommend the entire series, it is Primitive Nutrition 26, where you can learn what you need to know to put the information that the Weston Price foundation gives out into perspective.




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      2. Well dang, I don’t know where that picture above came from. I didn’t put it in and I can’t figure out how to get it out. If anyone wants to check out the Primitive Nutrition series of videos, I recommend clicking on my link, not the picture of the video that seems to be attached to my post.




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    2. When visiting Anasazi Indian cliff dwelling ruins like Chaco Canyon,it was amazing to discover the poor dental health on skeletal remains which was attributed to grinding corn on sandstone. There are always various factors which impacted various native populations, but certainly a lack of refined sugars and grains was a common denominator, in the study you point out.




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  16. Appreciate the abundant relating of how increasing plants in diets is strongly helpful and healthful. However, in one footnote the use of fluoride toothpaste is advised. Use of fluoride has now been rejected by the Canadian Dental Assoc. and by most European Dental Associations as being a risk/hazard to long term health with little or no consistent benefit to dental health. Fluoride is a severe toxin, hazardous waste from chemical production. If fluoride producers could not sell it to toothpaste manufacturers, they would instead have great expense in securing safe disposal of this very hazardous, toxic chemical waste.
    Research it. Fluoride is extremely hazardous, harmful, toxic and has no credible benefit to oral health.




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  17. Dr. Greger:

    Can you do a video on enamel remineralization? I eat A LOT of fruit and I am worried that it is keeping my oral pH too low and dissolving my enamel, even though the rest of my body and mind is loving it.

    Also, there is a book on amazon about remineralization and it says you need a diet high in oil and fat soluble vitamins (A, D, K) the only problem is that the diet it recommends is predominately non-vegan. BUT, people who have done the diet have COMPLETELY fixed giant black caries in their teeth! That’s crazy! Even though they did it by eating animals, it seems to be on the right track for what is necessary to remineralize enamel.

    Thanks for being totally awesome!




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    1. That’s pretty interesting. Care to link to the book page, or give the title?
      Seems like a fluoride rinse is the best option at the moment, that I’m aware of.




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  18. My dentist suggested that we eat more dark green leafy veggies to help re-calcify our teeth. I asked whether chewing the greens before eating would be more beneficial than just eating them (smoothies, juice, cooked, etc). Can you get any calcium out of the greens and into your teeth through mastication? I want to get your take on it. Thanks.




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  19. Aloha NutritionFacts,

    Have you ever heard of an Ayurvedic practice known as “oil pulling” whereby one pushes and pulls oil (usually coconut oil) back and forth through ones teeth and gums for 20-30 minutes which allegedly removes a great deal of bacteria?




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  20. Having had a heartattack and nervous about antibacterial mouth washes. I would like to know what I can use because at the moment I have a small swelling on one side of my mouth palate. I have been using warm sea salt water. Also drinking the South African Rooibos (redbush) tea with fresh lemon juice and organic honey.
    I was told that combination of Tumeric and honey taken into the mouth would help heal my palate.
    Chlorhesidine Glutonate seems very bad for heart patients.




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  21. I’ve been vegan about 1 year and I never had cavities (caries) in my whole life. Yesterday I saw a small cavity in one of my molar tooth and I feel very upset. I started thinking about something that has changed in my routine because I don’t believe that is something wrong with my diet. (I always had a good diet with lots of plant based food, no much sugar and regularly brush my teeth.)
    So, I moved to the UK a year ago and I’ve stopped to drink water with fluorite (I’m from Brazil and they artificially fluoridate the water) and also haven’t been using toothpaste with fluorite since I moved.
    However, I’d like to discuss about the uses of fluorite for health. Because many people say that it’s terrible for your health, but I guess the problem is how much you are exposed (inside your body) by fluoride (ej drinking fluoridate water), not in the toothpaste. (water fluoridation in the UK: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/11430233/The-extent-of-water-fluoridation-in-the-UK.html)
    Now I started to look for vegan toothpastes with fluorite (for treatment and prevention) but it’s so hard to find. Why do some vegan people avoid products with fluoride? And why don’t the UK fluoridate the water?
    Obs: Vegan Brazilians also are against the widespread use of fluoride. I read some articles about cancer(?) and fluorosis (yes, this can be happen). But I agree with the NHS article bellow (http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Fluoride/Pages/Introduction.aspx)
    Please, share your knowledge and experience with me. Thank you




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    1. Katherine T M: I’m sorry to hear you have developed a cavity. Regarding some of your questions: I don’t have any data to back up my guess, but I’ll share it just the same. While I think the benefits and harms of consuming fluoride in water are unclear, I haven’t seen any data showing that just brushing with a fluoride based toothpaste is harmful. Seems to me that at a minimum, you would want to get a good toothpaste. You could even look into prescription strength toothpaste.
      .
      I’ll also state that Dr. Greger does not share my doubt/concerns over water fluoridation. http://nutritionfacts.org/questions/the-dangers-of-fluoride/
      .
      Good luck!




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  22. Hi everyone

    I have started vegan diet since the new year after going through the literature. I fell very happy about this decision and can see the benefits obviously.

    But because I used to have some very detrimental bad eating habit in the past, such as eating coke and eating hot foods and beverages, Recently I have been experiencing a nightmare. My teeth are chipping one after another and last week one molar tooth got split and the parts feel off during the weekend. So I have lost that tooth completely at the age of 36 :(((

    The enamel looked very decayed and softened. I am panicking a lot and dont know what to do. Do you think the natural re-mineralisation of the teeth works? Do you have any idea/recipe for it? I would be grateful for your kind help.




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    1. Hi Alex: A whole-food, plant-based diet/eliminating sugar should help with further damage, however it’s difficult to “repair” tooth decay that has already occurred. I would highly advise that you consult a dentist ASAP – tooth decay can become painful and result in loss of teeth if it continues to progress. Infection may even occur if left untreated. Your dentist will be able to provide you with an individualized treatment plan that will fit your needs. Best of luck!




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  23. I find water flossing after eating acidic foods helps my gums not hurt so much when I floss (using dental floss) & brush my teeth after that meal in comparison to just swishing water around my mouth for several minutes then brushing 30mins after.(Water flossing doesn’t get rid of all the food particles in my teeth, that’s why I “mechanically floss” with dental floss (Plackers) and also those metal wire floss-sticks covered in plastic “hairs/bristles” (TePe/EKULF) (other brands may work just as well & depends on the amount of space between your teeth…)




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  24. Would rinsing with a solution of baking soda and water be better at neutralizing the acid in our mouth after consuming citrus than just rinsing with water alone?




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  25. Can you comment on Weston Price Foundation’s view on dental health. I was recommended their diet for my tooth decay problems but Im concerned about too high animal fat content and Im mostly veg. Im aware of all the health issues with animal fat but is there merit in Weston Price diet for tooth decay.




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  26. It certainly sounds like there is a need for much more and better research about dental health.

    Measuring dental erosion from eating fruit without paying close attention to diet seems faulty.

    Some groups on the planet are known to have almost no cavities ever (e.g., Australian aborigines.) If a certain diet protects us from cancer and heart disease then what about the one that protects from cavities?

    We’re missing something very basic and important here, I suspect.




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