Common Conditions

How to Never Get a Cavity: Remineralization 101

If you are struggling with constant cavities, the answer may lie in your diet. In this post, you'll learn about your teeth's natural abilities to resist cavities, and why what you eat is the greatest deciding factor as to whether you get cavities (not oral hygiene).

by Dr. Burhenne

How to Never Get a Cavity: Remineralization 101

For years, we’ve been told to brush and floss. But why? To prevent cavities of course! But, here’s the thing – cavities are actually a nutrition problem first and a hygiene problem second.

Scraping away with a toothbrush and floss while still eating cavity-promoting food is like leaving the sink on full blast while frantically trying to mop up the floor—it just isn’t the right way to handle the problem.

If you are struggling with constant cavities, the answer may lie in your diet. In this post, you’ll learn about your teeth’s natural abilities to resist cavities, and why what you eat is the greatest deciding factor as to whether you get cavities (not oral hygiene).

Can You Reverse a Cavity?

Most people think of teeth as a hard structure, but you should think of a tooth like a sponge—things can go in and out. A tooth can gain minerals and it can lose minerals. Think of those minerals as traveling in and out of that sponge.

As long as teeth gain minerals (remineralize) faster than they lose minerals (demineralize), they fight off decay and stay healthy. When teeth demineralize faster than they can remineralize, you get tooth decay. There are foods that promote demineralization (decay) and there are foods that promote remineralization (protecting against decay).

When you floss and brush, you’re not actively helping the tooth remineralize. Oral hygiene helps disorganize plaque and tartar (and prevent it from building up). This is why diet trumps hygiene when it comes to the formation of a cavity.

Why Your Diet Is More Important than a Toothbrush and Floss

Take cheese, for example. Cheese is rich in vitamins and minerals which nourish a tooth both from inside and outside of the tooth. When you chew on a piece of cheese, minerals are made available to teeth so they can remineralize themselves. The vitamins in cheese nourish teeth from the inside, making them better at remineralization.

Our modern diet of processed and high glycemic index foods provide a double whammy to teeth—increasing demineralization while also hurting a tooth’s ability to remineralize.

Foods That Promote Demineralization:

  • Saltine and Ritz crackers
  • Oatmeal and cereals (high in phytic acid)
  • Processed foods
  • Sugary yogurt
  • Sugary drinks
  • Bread
  • All high glycemic index foods

Foods That Promote Remineralization:

  • Raw and grass-fed cheese and butter
  • Eggs
  • Natto (fermented soybeans)
  • Grass-fed meats and poultry
  • Dark, leafy greens like swiss chard and spinach
  • Wild-caught fish
  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Avocado
  • Green and white tea

As a dentist, I scrape away plaque and tartar only for it to come right back. But if I educate my patients about what foods to eat, we help attack the root cause of the issue by preventing the buildup of that plaque in the first place. The right foods nourish a tooth so that they are better at remineralization and also provide teeth with the minerals that they’ve lost and must regain through remineralization.

Certain diets promote more plaque on teeth than others—and it’s much more complex than just sugary foods. Certain foods promote the wrong bacteria in the mouth. This is when the remineralization process is overwhelmed.

Why Kids Get Cavities More Than Adults

Have you ever wondered why kids get more cavities than adults? When you’re an adult, your body isn’t growing and laying down bone for growth, like it is in children. The resources for remineralization in a child are just not as available because their bodies are busy growing.

What’s Missing from Our Modern Diet

Vitamin K2, which 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. Also, now that we eat factory-farmed meat, animals are eating corn instead of grass—and this has drastically reduced the amount of Vitamin K2 in our food.

Vitamin D, which 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, which is why I recommend a daily Vitamin D supplement. Here’s the key thing to know—Vitamin D will make your teeth better at remineralization, but only in the presence of Vitamins K2 and A. Foods rich in Vitamin D include fatty fish like tuna, mackerel, and salmon as well as beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks.

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

Frequency vs. Quantity

What’s worse for your teeth—sipping a coke all day long or gulping it down at lunchtime? Sipping a Coke throughout the day upsets the balance between remineralization and demineralization all day long. But if you drink your Coke all at once, the balance is disrupted only for a short time, which teeth can recover from. When you bolster the tooth from the inside with the right nutrition, it’s better able to withstand the occasional acid attack from the outside.

Cavities Affect the Health of the Whole Body

Gum disease and tooth decay are the most prevalent diseases in the world—60% of us have gum disease and over 90% of us have cavities. When did we become okay with this? It’s not normal for a population to be this sick! If we were talking about heart disease or diabetes being this prevalent, we’d call those rates unacceptable. Many of us, including dentists, think of a cavity as a hole in the tooth—the way I see a cavity is that it is the beginning of a systemic infection of the body.

You can read more about this in my post about the mouth-body connection.

Dr. Mark Burhenne

read next: What Exactly Is the Mouth-Body Connection?

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

10 Comments

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  1. Hi Dr.Burhenne,Wow,what an informative and highly educational website!! I just wish I lived right down the block so I could take advantage of having you and your crew as my dental care team. I’ll keep
    on reading your website,so I can educate myself further on maintaining the one set of irreplaceable
    pearly whites bestowed upon me by The Creator!! I do have some questions regarding root canals,of which I was told I needed one. I would do anything to avoid this,and perhaps you may be able to shed
    some light on my state of confusion. I will try to contact you about this. All the best,and God Bless!!!

  2. I am so grateful to find your website and be privlaged to the information your teaching us. I will be sharing your site with others as this is good stuff! Thanks again!
    I am also interested in learning what you have to share about Root Canals~blocking chackras and such.

  3. When dentists stop charging nearly $300 to fill a cavity, and make dentistry affordable for everyone, then you’ll see tooth decay rates fall. Most people can’t afford to see a dentist and put it off till it’s past the point of prevention.

  4. This is a very interesting subject indeed. I started doing intermittent fasting about two years ago, which made my teeth feel a lot cleaner all day, plus mu gums stopped bleeding when I brushed. This year I changed my diet even more, to eating pretty much what you recommend. I took some D3 and K2 supplements as well. After a surprisingly short time I noticed my teeth getting whiter and smoother, the enamel was healing.

    Next I noticed that two old cavities were getting smaller. But this is the shocker: I had bitten off two teeth last year, and now they are slowly growing back. Can this really be happening?

    A lot more research needs to be done on this subject. I will continue my experiment of one.

    Thank you for you good work!

    • Do fill us in, how it is going – I also broke off a back wisdom teeth – I am eating about 125/250g raw tahini daily (am a raw vegan) and also organic/biodynamic (latter probably better) parsely as well – tooth starting to grow back a bit.

      In addition, I dry fast 24 hours a week + water fast 12 hours more, directly after + do not eat/drink after 4pm each day normally.

    • Yes, teeth can regrow. Most dentists will deny this is even possible, yet the old style real holistic dentists would use a comfrey poultice to help regrow a cavity. I had a back tooth filed right down to a spike and gold crown put on. The crown fell off 2 weeks later and because I was in a foreign country I didn’t bother to get it fixed and thought I’d see what happened. The tooth was very sensitive for the first couple weeks but I could feel it getting stronger. It took just over a year to fully regrow. My diet was terrible that year. I was getting tons of sunshine in Sydney Australia and walking around the city all day, but eating Macdonalds fishburgers, fries and coffee with sugar. I lost two stone from all the walking and got many hours of sunshine so I’m assuming it was the sunshine that did it, by stimulating the vitamin D production. Dentists need to stop focusing on surgery as their first option and teach people about nutritional and whole body health teeth self maintenance. The other thing I would add is face and neck exercises that strengthen, stretch and balance all the facial structures and increase blood flow and therefore nutrients to the gums and the teeth. Assymetrical facial structures can impede blood flow which can lead to DIS-EASE. So keep your spine and face balanced for optimum health. I have also had huge benefits from taking powdered horsetail with honey for 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off, perhaps its the silica in the horsetail. Bamboo is supposed to be very good too, grind it up into a powder…

  5. What if….. there isnt a cavity yet, but there is sensitivity and a “roughness” to a tooth? (Ive had this happen before, where the surface of 2 teeth felt different, so i called a dentist, they exammed my mouth, ignored the teeth i had called about, and they both turned into full blown cavities. Bad ones at that). Is there something i can do quickly to offset the demineralization process? Should i just add a bunch of veggies to my diet? Cut out coffee? Rinse often through the day? Or would i have to flip my entire diet on its head, and eat only highly mineralizing foods for a good while? I’m sick and tired of teeth problems and dentist visits… currently trying to find a doable natural approach.

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