Foods to Eat—And Foods to Avoid—to Heal Cavities Naturally

It's totally possible to heal cavities naturally without a filling, and it all starts with your diet. Knowing which foods to eat and which foods to avoid can help you reverse your cavities at home and avoid the drill.

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As a dentist, I am a strong believer in equipping my patients with the necessary tools and information to treat the root cause of their dental issues, instead of just treating the symptoms. And that is certainly the case when we try to heal cavities.

Many people suffer from dental anxiety, and it’s often related to cavities. Unfortunately, fillings are often the first line of defense against tooth decay, no matter how minimal the decay may be. There are definitely some cavities that require fillings (typically those that are deep enough to reach the nerve, thus causing pain), but I want you to also be aware that you have the power to reverse smaller cavities on your own, at home—and much of that power comes directly from the foods you eat.

Done with cavities for good?
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Obviously, the best way to heal cavities is to avoid them altogether, and the good news is that the diet that helps to heal existing cavities also helps to prevent new ones from forming.

But before we get into the specific foods that can prevent and heal cavities, let’s first discuss some basics about cavity formation and the role that food plays in that process.

There are four main factors in standard cavity formation:

  1. Your saliva and its properties—including minerals, volume, pH, and more
  2. Your oral microbiome—the millions of microbes in your mouth, whether harmful, beneficial, or neutral.
  3. Your diet—whether or not you’re getting enough of the proper nutrients for remineralization.
  4. How frequently these three elements create the perfect storm for cavity formation.

The foods you eat on a daily basis have a direct impact on your oral microbiome and saliva, and when you eat the wrong foods (more on those later), you create an ideal breeding ground for the bacteria that cause tooth decay.

Additionally, the quality of your diet determines whether you are getting the necessary nutrients to support the teeth’s natural remineralization process. The word remineralization refers to the process of restoring minerals to demineralized areas—typically bones, teeth, or any other parts of the body that require certain minerals for their structure.

Your teeth experience a lot of wear and tear, and their ability to continually regenerate allows you to, ideally, keep the same set of teeth for the vast majority of your life. This process requires specific vitamins and minerals, however, and if you’re not getting them from your diet or from supplementation, you may be hindering your teeth’s ability to heal themselves.

Bottom line: You’d probably agree that there are foods that can cause cavities, but you may not have realized that there are foods that can actually prevent and even heal cavities.

What to Eat to heal Cavities naturally

Now, let’s take a closer look at the specific nutrients your teeth need to heal cavities, and where to find them in food.


Calcium has long been known to benefit dental health. In addition to providing the (re)building blocks that teeth need on a regular basis, calcium also helps you produce more saliva, putting minerals back onto your teeth that you may have lost from eating. (1)

Most people assume that dairy products like milk and cheese are the best food sources of calcium, but this isn’t necessarily the case. There are many people who have an allergy or intolerance to dairy, and conventionally-raised dairy products contain hormones and antibiotics that negate any potential mineral benefit. These products should be avoided.

On the other hand, raw, grass-fed milk seems to be more easily tolerated and digested, and it is also higher in mineral count than products sourced from factory-farmed cattle. Surprisingly, seafoods like salmon, oysters, clams, and shrimp are also great sources of calcium, as are plant-based foods like broccoli, greens, nuts, cauliflower, figs, and olives.

Vitamin D

Often called the sunshine vitamin (it’s produced by the skin during exposure to the sun), vitamin D actually functions more like a hormone than a traditional vitamin. It controls the body’s ability to absorb calcium and phosphorus, so even if you are supplementing with those minerals in an attempt to improve dental health, your efforts are largely wasted if you’re not also monitoring your levels of vitamin D.

To underscore this fact, a review of a group of clinical trials found that vitamin D was a “promising preventative agent against tooth cavities and decay, which leads to a low-certainty conclusion that vitamin D may reduce the incidence of dental caries.” (2)

Spending time in the sun is the best way to boost vitamin D levels, but vitamin D can also be found in mushrooms, egg yolks, and fish like salmon and sardines. (3)

Vitamin K2

Like vitamin D, vitamin K2 regulates the absorption of minerals in the body. In fact, these two fat-soluble vitamins work in tandem to ensure that teeth have the calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium needed for remineralization.

Vitamin K2 can be found in cod liver oil, egg yolks, chicken liver, and ground beef, as well as organic, grass-fed dairy products like aged cheese (for those who can tolerate dairy).


Magnesium is responsible for numerous processes in the body, including the remineralization of teeth. Magnesium controls the balance of other nutrients in the body—including phosphorus and calcium—which, when left unchecked, can actually promote the demineralization of teeth.

Try including these rich sources of magnesium in your diet: squash seeds, cacao, blackstrap molasses, leafy greens, and avocado.


Adequate phosphorus levels (typically above 3.5) have been shown to protect against tooth decay but finding sources of phosphorus that actually benefit dental health can be tricky. (4) Phosphorus is present in beans, grains, and nuts, but those foods also contain phytic acid. This is problematic because phytic acid is known to bind to the nutrients in food, making it difficult for our bodies to actually use them. (5)

The good news is that there are plenty of phytic acid-free sources of phosphorus, including meats, eggs, and dairy products. And without the phytic acid, the phosphorus found in animal proteins may be easier for the body to absorb.

heal cavities naturally

Foods to Avoid to heal Cavities

We’ve already clearly defined “remineralization.” To build a growing understanding of how to heal cavities naturally, we should also clearly define the word “demineralization.”

Merriam-Webster defines demineralization as:

  1. Loss of bodily minerals (such as calcium salts), especially in disease
  2. The process of removing mineral matter or salts (as from water)

Tooth decay/demineralization is certainly caused by a deficiency of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that the body needs to build healthy teeth. But it can also be caused by eating or drinking substances that can actually deplete the teeth of necessary nutrients.

Since we have created a good, working list of foods that we should eat in order to heal cavities naturally, we should also put together a list of foods to avoid (or greatly limit).

Thanks to a strong push from the media we all know that sugar is bad for your teeth. It’s definitely not the only culprit, though. Here’s a look at the top foods that promote the demineralization of teeth. Essentially, eating these foods on a regular basis makes healing your cavities naturally nearly impossible.

Foods High in Phytic Acid

Phytic acid is a well-known antinutrient that inhibits the absorption of certain nutrients, including minerals that are needed for remineralization, like calcium and magnesium. (6) It is typically found in grains, legumes, and nuts, including:

  • Wheat
  • Beans
  • Rice
  • Almonds
  • Soybeans
  • Corn
  • Lentils

Simple Starches

People are often surprised to hear me say that saltine crackers are one of the worst cavity-causing foods, but it’s true. That’s because they are a simple starch that turns to sugar almost immediately after consumption. That fuzzy feeling on your teeth after you’ve finished eating a handful of crackers? It’s from the millions of harmful bacteria that love to feed on those types of foods, eventually multiplying and causing further tooth decay (and bad breath). Other examples of simple starches include:

  • Pasta
  • White bread
  • White rice
  • Goldfish crackers

Sugary Foods and Drinks

Like starchy foods (that ultimately turn to sugar in the body), sugary foods and drinks provide food for the bacteria in the mouth that cause cavities. Additionally, when these nutrient-deficient foods make up a large part of your diet, it’s also likely that you’re not consuming enough of the nutrients your body actually needs. If you’re trying to reverse your cavities, these foods should be avoided:

  • Cookies
  • Cake
  • Punch
  • Fruit juice
  • Candy

Dried Fruit

When grapes are converted into raisins, all of the water present in the fruit must be removed. This process concentrates all of the naturally-occurring sugars, which explains why raisins taste so much sweeter than grapes. It also explains why dried fruits are horrible for your teeth. They act as a sticky caramel in the mouth, trapping sugar and sugar-loving bacteria onto the teeth.

Acidic Foods and Drinks

The acid found in the following foods wears away the enamel of teeth and exacerbates decay:

  • Soda
  • Coffee
  • Orange, lemon and grapefruit juices (These can be highly damaging to your teeth, in one study, decreasing enamel hardness by 84%. Acids found in citrus break down the enamel, sometimes causing irreversible damage.) (7)
  • Sports drinks (Not only are they full of sugar, but at least one study has found that they are even more acidic than soda.) (8)
  • Energy drinks
  • Alcohol
  • Kombucha (While touted as a “healthy” drink, kombucha has a pH between 3.5 and 2.8—lower than coffee and many sodas, and certainly low enough to dissolve the enamel on teeth.) (9)

Acidic foods and drinks also strip minerals from your teeth (and body), leading to demineralization and decay. However, it would probably be impossible to avoid every single one of these foods all the time. If you can’t resist, (I know how important that morning cup of coffee is to many people) be sure to rinse your mouth with water immediately after consumption.

Final Thoughts: The Best Diet for Remineralization

Foods rich in vitamin D, vitamin K2, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus will help your teeth remineralize and stave off cavities, while also helping to reverse any current cavity formation through remineralization.

When eating acidic and/or sugary foods, remember to think about it wisely. You should try rinsing your mouth after eating these types of foods whenever possible and minimize your intake.

The bottom line is this: Avoiding sugary sodas and candies is just one way to slow down the demineralization process. Adopting the best diet for remineralization also includes focusing on eating the right foods, and being aware of the potential consequences of many other foods groups.

Dr. Mark Burhenne

Done with cavities for good?
I’ve helped hundreds of my patients stop the cycle of cavities. Now, I’m bringing that solution to my readers. Click here to find out how to say “goodbye” to cavities forever…for less than the cost of one filling.
Read Next: Reversing Tooth Decay and Healing Cavities Naturally: Top Questions Answered

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Leave a Comment

  1. Wow thank you for this info. Came here after reading on dr. Axe’s website about top 6 Supplements to Help You Remineralize Your Teeth. I will definitely try those vitamins! After having 8 kids , my teeth aren’t too pretty.😐. Wish I knew this info earlier.

  2. Hi Dr Burhenne,

    I have a question, I have gum disease ,I have good diet,I’m trying to stop it, I did oil pulling , flossing my teeth every day,clove water rinse,I’m taking multivitamin suppliment .is it anything else you can suggest. I had in past multiple wisdom teeth infections and antibiotics and 2 dental 32 years old.
    Any suggestions?
    Thank you
    I will be waiting for your reply.

    • Personal experiences: the good, the bad, and the ugly…..
      Dr’s wonderful report said calcium is important BUT as he stated, not necessarily the way we’ve been told we should take it. Nature gives livestock and people the ability to turn greens into strong bones and teeth. I ate lots of organic “Leafy Green” lettuce salads along with higher amounts of raw veggies and fruits with less frequent cooked veggies, and starches, lightly boiled eggs, grilled fish, and seafood. But not knowing that was enough… I supplemented with something called Calcium Orotate, and Magnesium Orotate. When I suddenly decided to stop these two minerals, my face immediately became more youthful. I was in my 30’s. Somehow the Calcium, and maybe Magnesium had messed with NATURE, in my mineral balance. I also had what I presume to be Calcium deposits in back of my neck but didn’t connect the excess minerals to the supplements. Nature heals folks. Love that the Doctor emphasized sunshine, (NATURE), to get Vitamin D. I took about 500 I U’s of Vitamin D3 Supplement about 3 years ago, (one time only), and had a serious reaction of nausea, tooth and bone aches, and a truly scary feelings. Many people cannot tolerate this newer supplement and there are warnings about it on the Internet under the name of this D3, which is “Cholecalciferol”. Dogs that have eaten their owners supplements of D3, have gotten very ill and sometimes died. Does anyone else wonder how you turn sunshine into a pill? Sunshine, NATURES REAL vitamin D directly on our skin, in a short time, makes us feel good and is a blessing for our health. Lastly, the UGLY…… the artificial sweeteners I used in all this natural stuff must have messed with my body also because while I was using artificial sweetened products, I began to suffer many tooth aches and tooth problems. Those ARTIFICIAL sweeteners can be researched online as boosting blood sugars and causing many bad symptoms including weight gain and depression just for starters. I thank God for people like Doctor Burhenne for his real goals of helping people.

  3. Is it ok to eat almonds and walnuts sometimes (1-2 times a week)? Or is it best to avoid them all together?

  4. What if you soak the grains, raisins etc. I soak buckwheat and raisins over night in water and ACV. I also soak rice before cooking it.

  5. Thank you for sharing this good information.
    Just wanted to mention that this page is covered in ads for … sugary cookies! Not at all in alignment with your message and I expect you have no control over that. Just pure irony 🙂

    • Rae Hudspeth says:

      Ads are generated by websites you visit. For example, as another reader, today all my ads are for GMC trucks, Liberty Mutual Insurance, and vacation homes, all websites I’ve visited lately. Have you been on baking blogs or recipes? That would explain what you’re seeing.

  6. Oh no! What to do about the phytic acids?

    I binged read a bunch of your articles and think that your input is fantastic, thanks for sharing your knowledge and ideas. They are extremelly valuable.

    I was perplexed though about the mention of avoiding foods with high phytic acids. I mostly am vegetarian, meaning that I rarely eat any animal products, mostly for my health. Which means, I have been thaugh that beans will save your life (essentially). Now, I am confronted by 2 “sientifically proven” views: a) foods high in phytic acids contribute to poor oral health, which in terms contributes to poor general health, and

    b) foods high in phytic acids are actually beneficial to human health. Not because of the phytic acids of course (although there are some significant evidences that phytic acids have anti oxidative properties (…)), but of the important nutrients they also contain… It is also said that tannins (found in tea… and cacao can strongly inibiht iron absorption…) Mmmm, what to do now? It is suggested that the processing of these foods by sprouting, cooking, baking, soaking, fermenting, and yeast leavening all help to destroy phytates…. And, that the consumption of these foods inhibits SOME of the nutrients absorbtion, but not nearly enough to warrant avoiding them. In fact avoid them might cause MORE harm than good in healthy humans due to missing out on another incredibly powerful source of nutrients in general…

    What’s your take? I would love to know. Thank you!

    • Mark Burhenne, DDS says:

      Hi there, Steph,

      I appreciate your thoughtful response. You’ve actually inspired me to compile a more complete list of research and recommendations for my vegan/vegetarian readers, but until then- oral health for vegans and vegetarians is somewhat challenging, in part because many are not getting some nutrients our bodies have evolved to need (K2 being the most obvious). I’ll let you know when I put my piece together.

      All my best,
      Dr. B

  7. What of you’re vegetarian? Bends and nuts tend to be a staple for many vegetarians and seems to be the main source of vegetarian or vegan phosphorus

  8. Katherine Hunter says:

    The Price Pottenger Foundation hosts a wealth of information on the benefits of a natural foods diet that mimics what our ancestors ate prior to the introduction of refined foods. Dr. Weston Price was a dentist that traveled the world in the 40’s documenting the healthy teeth of “primitive people” from Africa to Europe. He discovered that healthy peoples diets consisted of a balance of animal and plants including sprouted grains and beans and fermented foods that kept people free from cavities. He recommends researching the type of foods your ancestors ate before the industrialization of their diet. Anglos from the North need more Vit-D (often cod liver oil) than people living closer to the equator that get more sun. I think Dr. Price’s book is called Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. Kind of a clinical title. It has lots of photos that Dr. Price took from his travels of good and gruesome conditions of people’s teeth reflecting what they ate.

  9. I was wondering how bad is honey? I read a few studies that found honey has beneficial properties that fight against tooth decay but I’m not yet convinced.

  10. For someone that is two weeks into eating this way to try to heal cavities- meat, seafood, fats, and veg.. and I’m avoiding all seeds and nuts, what about occasional fruits or the occasional serving of white rice (low phytates) or potatoes. I lose way too much weight and would love to add in those starches perhaps twice a week and also some fruit but I’m not sure if it will hinder my efforts. Thanks for a great article.

  11. Elizabeth Besudreault says:

    Hi Dr. B
    A quick question? I was previously reading your site. I thought I saw a comment when all else kind of fails for Oral Thrush s medication to use😇 sorry a med. I am trying to find it all over. Well I learned quite a few tips from your site 😇 Thank You

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