Diet & Nutrition

Boost Your Nutrition With These 6 Supplements to Heal Cavities

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by Dr. Burhenne

supplements
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Your body is designed to naturally repair any damage, including in the mouth—as long as it has the proper nutrients to do so. That’s where supplements to heal cavities come in handy.

It’s possible to get proper nutrition through diet alone, but many people can use an extra boost with supplements.

But first…

What’s really causing your cavities in the first place?

What Really Causes Cavities

Cavities are not formed after just one sugary meal. A combination of factors—including the quality of your saliva, your diet, your mouth’s pH, and the status of your oral microbiome—can create a “perfect storm” for cavity formation.

Plaque forms when bacteria in your mouth combine with proteins in saliva and food particles, then adhere to your teeth. Those bacteria then feed on the sugar molecules in foods like processed carbs and leave acids on the teeth.

Left in the same area too long, these acid attacks begin to break down the calcium in the teeth’s enamel. Over time, this can cause holes in the tooth structure and tooth decay in the enamel and dentin layers of teeth.

In short, bacteria eat away at tooth structure and cause cavities.

There are several ways this process gets interrupted every day, though. For one, if your diet consists mostly of foods like vegetables, animal proteins, and mineral-rich dairy products (like hard cheeses), there’s much less chance of bacterial overgrowth that leads to cavities.

Tooth decay is also much less likely if you’re well-hydrated. Saliva is a buffer between your teeth and the bacteria left over from food. Dry mouth, caused by mouth breathing or certain conditions, can throw off your mouth’s natural remineralization process.

You also disrupt these acid attacks every time you brush your teeth. Flossing to remove food particles from in between teeth is another way you can avoid developing a new cavity.

While brushing and flossing are important aspects of any good dental hygiene routine, they aren’t the only—or most effective—ways to prevent or reverse tooth decay.

Let’s recap: Eating foods that cause bad bacteria overgrowth and, eventually, acid attacks on your teeth is one major cause of cavities. Dry mouth is another big one—in fact, I believe dry mouth is slightly more of a problem than poor diet.

You can disrupt this process by eating foods commonly found in a Paleo or keto diet about 80 percent of the time, with the other 20 percent reserved for “cheat” or “splurge” foods.

Mouth taping is one of the most effective ways to stop your nighttime mouth breathing and avoid dry mouth.

These steps can not only prevent cavities but help to reverse some cavities you already have.

But for many people, just these steps aren’t enough.

Your mouth needs a combination of several important nutrients to actually remineralize teeth. Avoiding demineralization (acid attacks) isn’t the whole story.

How to Heal Cavities

Want to know how to get rid of cavities naturally?

The process of reversing cavities is about nutrition first and dental hygiene second.

See, acid excretion wouldn’t occur if there was no food source for bacteria to grow via sugars, carbs, phytic acid, and other cavity-causing substances.

Getting nutrition and supplements that promote remineralization can help you stop, reverse, and prevent cavities.

You want the process of demineralization to happen in reverse, depositing nutrients back into your tooth structure. This is called “remineralization.”

Foods and supplements high in minerals like calcium and magnesium give your teeth the chance to rebuild broken structures on the outside. Plus, when your body distributes those nutrients throughout the rest of your body, your teeth get the internal support they need to grow strong and healthy.

Topical fluoride (not fluoride in water) may also help to reverse cavities because it is taken up by teeth during remineralization and integrated into the structure of teeth. However, brushing with fluoride only plays a small role in reversing tooth decay—and I don’t recommend it anymore.

(As a side note, my favorite remineralizing toothpaste—better than fluoride!—is Boka’s Ela Mint Toothpaste.)

Even so, your diet is the most vital path on the way to cavity reversal. That’s why supplements to heal cavities can be so useful: These vitamins and minerals help your teeth get support from the inside and outside to rebuild and reverse your cavities.

The Best Diet for Cavity Reversal

Now that we understand the importance of diet in healing cavities, let’s look at which nutrients we should be adding to our diets, and which ones to avoid.

Here are the major points about eating to reverse cavities:

Reduce or eliminate sugar and carbohydrates—they feed the cavity-forming bacteria.

Make sure you’re getting enough fat-soluble vitamins—these include vitamins A, D, E and K. (1)

Pay specific attention to your vitamin K2 intake—Originally identified by Weston Price as Activator X and later found to be vitamin K2, this nutrient is an essential element for healthy teeth. (2) K2 works in tandem with vitamins A and D in the formation, growth, and remineralization of teeth.

Make sure you’re getting enough minerals—especially calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. These minerals are absorbed by your teeth to rebuild their structure.

Get lots of vitamin D foods—Up to 90% of the population is deficient in this nutrient, but you need it to heal cavities. (3) Eating more vitamin D foods can help you get there.

Reduce your phytic acid intake—Found mainly in plant seeds, beans, and grains, phytic acid is an anti-nutrient that interferes with nutrient absorption, especially calcium. The easiest way to reduce phytic acid content is by soaking and sprouting these foods before you eat them.

The 6 Best Supplements for Reversing Cavities

Even if your diet is perfect, it’s tough to get all of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients needed for remineralization from food alone.

Like vitamin C for a cold or omega-3 fats for heart and brain health, the following supplements will support your body’s natural process to heal cavities (or prevent them altogether!).

  • Calcium—bonds with tooth enamel, aiding in remineralization
  • Vitamin D3—helps the body properly absorb calcium into the bloodstream
  • Vitamin K2—helps the body properly distribute calcium to the teeth and bones
  • Vitamin A—helps the body properly process vitamin D
  • Magnesium—creates a “balancing” effect for calcium metabolism
  • Oral Probiotics— balance the oral microbiome

Let’s take a closer look at each one:

1. Calcium

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, and you’re probably not surprised to see it on this list. Generally, we associate calcium with healthy, strong bones and teeth because calcium is the primary building block of these structures. It’s also vital for proper teeth remineralization. (4)

Sounds simple, right? Well… not quite.

Warm socks for snowy weather are a must, but without the proper shoes, the warm socks won’t matter very much in the snow. Similarly, unless your body has enough of the other minerals needed to effectively absorb calcium, it can be rendered useless pretty quickly.

Also, in order to keep calcium from ending up in the wrong places in the body, we need to have the right mineral combination. That’s where vitamins and supplements D3 and K2 come in—they help absorb and direct calcium to its proper destination.

Recommended Dosage: 500-1,000 mg per day*

*Calcium should only be taken in doses of 500 milligrams at a time. If you take 1,000 milligrams each day, break doses up. In addition, don’t take a calcium supplement unless you are also supplementing with vitamins K2, A, and D3.

2. Vitamin D3

Vitamin D is quite possibly one of the most important nutrients for overall health. Its name is actually misleading because vitamin D acts more like a hormone than a vitamin. Because of this, there are receptors for vitamin D on every tissue and organ throughout your body.

Fat-soluble vitamin D is needed to properly absorb calcium and balance minerals throughout the body. (5)

Absorbing calcium and optimal mineral balance are critical for the formation and repair of your bones and teeth. They’re also responsible for helping your teeth maintain their structure to last your entire life, if you take care of them.

Remember, your teeth aren’t the only structures in your mouth that need to stay strong. The alveolar bone that holds your teeth in place needs to be healthy, too.

Vitamin D has been shown in studies to prevent tooth decay by increasing remineralization. I see more cavities in my patients during January, February, March, and April, which is when vitamin D levels are lowest (thanks to the weather).

That’s why I recommend a daily vitamin D3 supplement. This type of vitamin D is most similar to the type we get from sun exposure, but here’s the key thing to remember: Vitamin D will make your teeth better at remineralization, but only in the presence of vitamins K2 and A.

Vitamin D may also be beneficial for oral health due to its ability to function as an anti-inflammatory agent and stimulate the production of antimicrobial peptides. (6, 5)

80% of our necessary vitamin D should be acquired by sunlight, so try spending at least twenty minutes in the sun whenever you can. (7)

Recommended Dosage: 1000-5000 IU per day*

*If you live in an area with plenty of sunlight throughout the year, a lower dose (2,500 IU or less) is probably sufficient. However, while you’re remineralizing cavities in a location with less sunlight, like during winter far from the equator, a higher dosage is preferable. In addition, vitamin D should be taken with vitamins A and K2 and calcium.

It’s pretty hard to overdose on vitamin D, but it’s not impossible. If you take a high dose vitamin D supplement for an extended period of time, be aware of vitamin D side effects like digestive problems and kidney issues.

3. Vitamin A

Vitamin A is considered an antioxidant micronutrient. (1) It is needed only in small amounts and assists in the absorption of vitamin D. It can also reduce inflammation in gum tissue so if you’re at risk for gum disease, this is a helpful nutrient to get along with other supplements to heal cavities.

The biggest benefit of vitamin A for cavities is the way it fights disease.

Don’t forget—cavities are a bacterial infection, not just a cosmetic or annoying problem that sends you to the dentist.

Getting more vitamin A through diet or supplementation can give your immune system a boost. When your immune system is in good shape, you’ll get less cavities (and be more able to reverse any you develop).

Recommended Dosage: 700-1300 micrograms per day for adults, 400-600 micrograms per day for kids*

*If you eat a lot of vitamin A foods, you may not need this supplement. It’s possible to overdose on vitamin A (called “hypervitaminosis A”).

4. Vitamin K2

Vitamin K1 is essential for blood clotting. If you’re K1-deficient, you’d know it—because you’d be in a hospital.

However, it wasn’t until the second half of last century that scientists realized vitamin K2, while similar in structure, served a totally different purpose in the body. You need K2 for the mineralization and strength of bones and teeth because it’s what tells calcium where to go.

Unfortunately, many people are K2-deficient. (8)

Vitamin K2 is present in a lot of the foods that we tossed out during the low-fat craze of the 1990s—salami, liver, butter, full-fat dairy, egg yolks, beef, and cheese, to name a few. And now that we eat factory-farmed meat, animals are eating corn instead of grass, and this has drastically reduced the amount of Vitamin K2 available in our food.

A K2 deficiency is hard to spot and most doctors don’t even test for it. However, if you get frequent cavities, it’s possible you’re lacking.

When you consume calcium, vitamin D3 is what signals the calcium to get into your bloodstream. From there, you need K2 to instruct your blood to deposit calcium into your bones.

That’s why K2 deficiency coupled with taking calcium supplements has caused an increase in heart disease, even though people may get osteoporosis less often. (9)

Vitamin K2 isn’t just one of my favorite supplements to heal cavities—it’s good for several different systems of the body. Getting enough K2 is good for your heart, bones, brain, blood sugar, and more!

There are multiple forms of vitamin K2 in supplements, most commonly MK-4 and MK-7. They have drastically different half-lives in the body, so the amounts of these compounds are very different. I prefer K2 supplements that contain both types.

Recommended Dosage: 15,000 mcg MK-4 and 60 mcg MK-7 daily*

*Even though vitamin K2 is technically a fat-soluble vitamin, there’s never been a recorded case of overdose (unlike vitamin K1). Kids and adults can safely consume vitamin K2 supplements. I recommend taking it along with vitamins A and D and calcium.

5. Magnesium

Magnesium has a balancing effect on calcium metabolism and may prevent calcium plaque in the arteries. Most importantly, to reap the full benefits of vitamin D (and, by extension, vitamins K2 and A), you need magnesium.

Along with phosphorus and potassium, magnesium is an important mineral that your bones and teeth use to remineralize. (10)

The more calcium you consume, the more magnesium you need. Without enough magnesium, calcium won’t be able to harden your teeth correctly.

Because modern farming practices have depleted trace minerals from much of our food, I supplement my water with trace minerals containing magnesium a lot. (Want to learn more about farming methods that actually increase minerals in soil? Check out this piece on regenerative agriculture.)

Recommended Dosage: 250 milligrams per day

6. Oral Probiotics

Probiotics are good bacteria that play a huge role in the immune system. (11) Although the strains are different, oral probiotics do for the mouth what standard probiotics do for the gut.

Probiotics for the gut often come in supplement capsules designed to withstand the digestive system so that the beneficial strains make it to the correct place. Oral probiotics, on the other hand, dissolve in your mouth and contain strains meant for your mouth.

When your oral microbiome is out of whack, the bad bacteria that grow when you eat tooth decay-causing foods aren’t kept in check. As a result, those bacteria can travel all the way to the gut—potentially wreaking havoc throughout the body and proving that what happens in the mouth happens in the body. (12)

However, you can reset the oral microbiome and ensure a healthy balance of good, bad, and neutral bacteria by using oral probiotics regularly.

Not only will this help protect your mouth from excess plaque buildup, gingivitis, candida overgrowth (oral thrush), and bad breath, but oral probiotics may also help the body by reducing your risk for: (13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18)

Recommended Dosage: Each oral probiotic comes with different amounts of different strains. Look for those with high-volume colony forming units (CFUs) and beneficial strains like S. salivarius, L. reuteri, and L. paracasei. Oral probiotics are chewables and should not contain sugar.

Alternatively, you can also try making your own DIY oral probiotics. Check these recipes out:

Final Thoughts

When you use supplements to heal cavities, you’re boosting your body’s nutrition to strengthen and remineralize your teeth.

My favorite cavity-busting supplements are:

  1. Calcium
  2. Vitamin D3
  3. Vitamin A
  4. Vitamin K2
  5. Magnesium
  6. Oral Probiotics

With the first four, be sure to take them in tandem—there must be a balance for your body to use all of these nutrients properly.

What other questions do you have about supplements to heal cavities? Use the “Ask Me A Question” button below to find the answers.

read next: The Mouth-Body Connection: 6 Ways Oral Health Impacts Overall Health

References

  1. Najeeb, S., Zafar, M. S., Khurshid, Z., Zohaib, S., & Almas, K. (2016). The role of nutrition in periodontal health: an update. Nutrients, 8(9), 530. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5037517/
  2. Masterjohn, Christopher. (2008). On the trail of the elusive x-factor: a sixty-two-year-old mystery finally solved. Retrieved from: https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/abcs-of-nutrition/on-the-trail-of-the-elusive-x-factor-a-sixty-two-year-old-mystery-finally-solved/#interactions
  3. Adams, J. S., & Hewison, M. (2010). Update in vitamin D. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 95(2), 471-478. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2840860/
  4. Neel, E. A. A., Aljabo, A., Strange, A., Ibrahim, S., Coathup, M., Young, A. M., … & Mudera, V. (2016). Demineralization–remineralization dynamics in teeth and bone. International journal of nanomedicine, 11, 4743. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5034904/
  5. Stein, S. H., & Tipton, D. A. (2011). Vitamin D and its impact on oral health—an update. Journal of the Tennessee Dental Association, 91(2), 30. Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21748977
  6. Bahar, A. A., & Ren, D. (2013). Antimicrobial peptides. Pharmaceuticals, 6(12), 1543-1575. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3873676/
  7. Smith, L. M., & Gallagher, J. C. (2017). Dietary vitamin D intake for the elderly population: update on the recommended dietary allowance for vitamin D. Endocrinology and metabolism clinics of North America. Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29080640
  8. Weber, P. (2001). Vitamin K and bone health. Nutrition, 17(10), 880-887. Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15018483
  9. Pentti, K., Tuppurainen, M. T., Honkanen, R., Sandini, L., Kröger, H., Alhava, E., & Saarikoski, S. (2009). Use of calcium supplements and the risk of coronary heart disease in 52–62-year-old women: the Kuopio Osteoporosis Risk Factor and Prevention Study. Maturitas, 63(1), 73-78. Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19394167
  10. Palacios, C. (2006). The role of nutrients in bone health, from A to Z. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 46(8), 621-628. Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/170%2092827
  11. Kechagia, M., Basoulis, D., Konstantopoulou, S., Dimitriadi, D., Gyftopoulou, K., Skarmoutsou, N., & Fakiri, E. M. (2013). Health benefits of probiotics: a review. ISRN nutrition, 2013. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4045285/
  12. Dewhirst, F. E., Chen, T., Izard, J., Paster, B. J., Tanner, A. C., Yu, W. H., … & Wade, W. G. (2010). The human oral microbiome. Journal of bacteriology, 192(19), 5002-5017. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2944498/
  13. Huang, X., Palmer, S., Ahn, S. J., Richards, V. P., Williams, M. L., Nascimento, M. M., & Burne, R. A. (2016). Characterization of a highly arginolytic Streptococcus species that potently antagonizes Streptococcus mutans. Applied and environmental microbiology, AEM-03887. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4807514/
  14. Krasse, P., Carlsson, B., Dahl, C., Paulsson, A., Nilsson, A., & Sinkiewicz, G. (2006). Decreased gum bleeding and reduced gingivitis by the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri. Swedish dental journal, 30(2), 55-60. Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16878680
  15. Burton, J. P., Chilcott, C. N., Moore, C. J., Speiser, G., & Tagg, J. R. (2006). A preliminary study of the effect of probiotic Streptococcus salivarius K12 on oral malodour parameters. Journal of applied microbiology, 100(4), 754-764. Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16553730
  16. Lim, Y., Totsika, M., Morrison, M., & Punyadeera, C. (2017). Oral microbiome: A new biomarker reservoir for oral and oropharyngeal cancers. Theranostics, 7(17), 4313. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5695015/
  17. Leishman, S. J., Lien Do, H., & Ford, P. J. (2010). Cardiovascular disease and the role of oral bacteria. Journal of oral microbiology, 2(1), 5781. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3084572/
  18. Teixeira, F. B., Saito, M. T., Matheus, F. C., Prediger, R. D., Yamada, E. S., Maia, C. S., & Lima, R. R. (2017). Periodontitis and Alzheimer’s Disease: A Possible Comorbidity between Oral Chronic Inflammatory Condition and Neuroinflammation. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 9, 327. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5649154/

tired of cavities?

In 3 super easy steps, I'll show you how to hardly ever get another cavity without drastically changing your diet.

Dr. Mark Burhenne DDS

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