Here's the story: 5-6 years ago was my last dentist visit (lack of insurance and lack of liking the denist mostly). They always griped about flossing, but ok otherwise. So I finally get some insurance and when a strange tooth pain set it, I went in for a check-up and cleaning. A good amount of plaque, but the dentist (an older detist) did not mention any decay. At this point, I went on a sensitivity toothpaste (KNO3) with fluoride. Tooth pain went away in about a week's time. Shortly after, I've implemented paleo eating. About 3 months ago, I stopped with fluid milk (formerly consumed 2 gallons per week), the only dairy I now eat is cream, butter or the occasional parm or blue cheese. Fast-forward to today, and my 6 month visit. Gums are healthy, minimal plaque, no admonition for not flossing constantly. However, he (different dentist) claims to find 7 cavities. I'm a little shocked to say the least.
Question is: what change did I make that led to this situation?
I'd be really surprised if simply going paleo did this. Everything I've seen points to paleo being quite good for dental health.
Going dairy-free seems like I might have knocked out a huge amount of calcium from my diet. Of course, I also knocked out a ton of lactose as well. I don't have any dairy intolerance, and it definitely helped with leaning out a bit this last summer. I strongly suspect this might be the issue.
There's also the different opinions of two dentists. I tend to prefer older doctors, dentists, veterinarians, etc because they tend to be a little more laissez-faire in their treatment. I can't help but think the new dentist takes a more aggressive approach to treatment, treating anything that he possibly can treat as opposed to treating actual problems. I asked him which cavities had priority and he simply replied "all of them". Red flags in my mind for that statement. Or maybe the first dentist was just being lazy the first day and failed to mention anything. I certainly trust the first dentist more than today's dentist.
My plan of attack is to give myself 2-3 months on a different course to see what changes I can make. I'm thinking of reintroducing dairy since I'm 100% ok with it. Also going to try to increase my vitamin D3 supplementation (I started this when I started with paleo ~6 months ago) from ~15000 IU/week to 30000-35000 IU/week. Also going to make an appointment with the other dentist for a second opinion.
Hack my teeth? Opinions, recommendations, stories; all welcome.
Yes, I've searched and read previous questions on the topic. Am interested to hear if any others specifically went dairy-free and ended up with a less than stellar dental checkup...
Edit: Diet: Pretty standard paleo stuff. Have my own "Robb Wolf" meal matrix: meat, veggie, fat. Meats are beef (I knew the cow, it's good.), venison (wild), pork (I knew the pig, it's good), or seafood (wild-caught only). Veggies are varied; lots of spinach, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, etc... Fats are olive or coconut oils, some butter at times. Dairy is limited to what I mention above. Daily coffee for breakfast.
Supplements: 1-5 1000 IU Vitamin D3, when I remember to take them. 1.5 g EPA, 1 g DHA daily. B-complex with C & Zinc occasionally, used to be more regular with it though.
asked byMatt_11 (41747)
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on October 11, 2011
at 10:00 PM
K2 is waaaay more important than D3 here. It mineralizes calcium onto teeth and bone. Consider zinc as well if you might be deficient.
Your implication seems to be that dairy is required for healthy teeth. I disagree, as does the fossil/ethnographic record.
on October 12, 2011
at 12:12 AM
Get a second opinion. I would go back to the older dentist and not tell him what the recent dentist said about your purported cavities. There exists a not uncommon practice amongst some dentists to fill things that are not actually cavities and do not need any treatment. My story: I have zero cavities and have always had zero cavities. I've always seen a dentist once a year. I do floss twice daily and brush but believe the tendency to decay is multifactoral has to do with the ph in one's saliva and genetic tendency etc.
20 years ago, I was struggling to complete grad school and pay rent in this expensive big city while dealing with the emotional horror of dealing with the suffering of a parent who had fallen gravely ill. I went to a new dentist who seemed legit and had gone to a top rated dental school. He examined me and declared I had a whopping 13 cavities. I totally freaked out -- just lost it. He said it would cost several thousand dollars -- but I could pay in installments. He left the room for me to think about it and a younger collegue came into the room. He told me he could get fired for telling me this but he didn't care anymore. He said had seen this kind of thing in this office before and was leaving the practice. He said that this dentist in his view fills things that are not cavities -- tells people they have cavities when they do not -- to generate more money. He urged me to please get a second opinion -- when I said I had money problems etc he said a second opinion would be far cheaper than several thousand dollars. I followed his advice and went to a practice run by a husband and wife team dentists -- both went to top dental schools and the wife is rather famous. Happy ending -- I had zero cavities. Zero. I've gone to the new dentist ever since.
A friend of mine said it also happened to him here. He is originally from out of state and goes to his family dentist when visiting his family -- but went to one in the city who claimed he had many cavities. He had them filled and the same thing at the next visit. It was before the holidays so he decided to wait to have them filled by his home town dentist. The result? His family dentist said there were zero cavities and that "lots of dentists are filling nothing these days."
I don't know if you do or don't have cavities -- but to suddenly have 7 cavities after 6 months seems bizarre. Try to get a second opinion. I don't believe paleo or dairy-free has anything to do with decay. Maybe a severe mineral deficiency in childhood when teeth are forming but most adults eat/drink dairy and have plenty of tooth decay. I hope you get it all sorted out. Good luck!
on October 12, 2011
at 01:54 PM
I think there is a misconception that Paleolithic and foraging people did not have cavities. Some skulls I've seen have dental infections so bad that it's probably what killed them. Rates of cavities in populations generally seem to track with increased crowding, sedentism, and reliance on carbohydrates( but there are a few intriguing exceptions, particularly in some Asian populations where the relationship is reversed, IE more rice = less cavities, but that sheds light on the complexities here).
Then you have the issue here that we have no idea how much calcium is in bone broths. Foraging peoples eat some pretty horrible things, perhaps because they have calcium. Some of these horrid-sounding things including mashed-up whole small animals, with lots of really little bones. They also consumed mineral-rich clays.
At some point I had to say, well...I'm not sure enough about bone broth to rely on it for calcium and my stomach can't tolerate piles of leafy greens, so I added dairy back into my diet.
on October 12, 2011
at 02:11 PM
A lot of dentists are scam artists IMO.
I have had a 'cavity' for 10 years. You can see that the tooth looks a bit funny but there is no pitting, it hasn't gotten worse since I was 16, and I don't have any tooth pain ever. I hardly ever go to the dentist and I just nod and smile when they tell me I need a filling and extractions (I have three wisdom teeth - apparently it's standard practice to yank them on the off chance they get infected due to crowding. Thanks, I will keep the healthy new teeth and wait until a tooth actually goes bad before pulling it).
I eat dairy products FWIW.
on October 12, 2011
at 02:06 AM
I eat bone broths, home-made lactose-free probiotic goat yogurt (fermented for 24 hours), and hard goat cheese (lactose-free for the most part as well). I do that in the last 5 weeks, since I started Paleo. Within these 5 weeks, some of my tooth plaque is gone all by itself, and the painful sensitivity of my front teeth has gone down to half.
I take 2000iu of D3 & recommended 100% dose of K2 daily, 2-3 pills of calcium a week, and here and there, some magnesium. All that helps me actually absorb the calcium from the bones I eat, dairy, and the calcium vitamins.
on October 12, 2011
at 01:40 PM
Hey Matt. I've had a very similar experience. Sorry if the following gets long and sounds like me rambling but I also tie in muscle cramps and what I believe boils down to calcium deficiency.
I went "paleo" from SAD probably sometime in the spring from high CHO/low fat diet. I'm young and healthy and therefore didn't make the change to lose weight or correct any health problem; this way of eating just seems more appropriate in terms of evolution.
Initially I lost weight even though I was 160 pounds and 6 foot 1. I had a hard time giving up chronic cardio. I was eating all grass fed meat, vegetables and fruit and of course fats. Then as time passed, I lightened up on fruit due to seasonal evolutionary considerations and thousands of years of selective breeding. Then more time passed and lightened up on vegetables because they aren't filling, they have questionable absorption of minerals/nutrients/anti-oxidants and I'd rather spend my money on animals.
I slowly tapered off my anaerobic exercise because frankly my muscles felt like crap. I had no muscular strength what so ever and then the muscle cramps in the calves started in the middle of the night. Coming from 15 miles a week on the SAD diet I started questioning this lifestyle a lot and the low CHO diet. Read up on Travis's comments on glycogen stores and decided to add safe starches like potatoes. Then switched to sweet potatoes as I have suspected night shade issues in myself for a while (but thats a different story).
Potatoes/Sweet potatoes did absolutely nothing for my muscle cramps. I was hoping the potassium would help, as so many people had claimed it would...no. By this time I was taking daily magnesium due to reading the Jaminet's PHD. Even on days of doubling up on magnesium I had no relief of muscle cramps and the extra glucose (5-10 potatoes a day) wasn't helping either.
I was racing for an answer as my cramps had me scrambling out of bed in the middle of the night to walk it out. Then I added bone broth. Immediate relief was achieved the next night and I could actually do a morning yawn-strech without going into leg cramps.
Problem solved right? While my night time cramps stopped, my muscles still weren't feeling that great, certainly not enough to strength train like some people here. I tried upping fat and upping protein and that didn't help (2 pounds of meat, handfuls of chopped suet, jars of coconut oil, its all lethal (and by lethal I mean my foods of choice)). Combined with constipation and comments from the PHD, I started to think my thyroid was low or I had some iron/copper toxicity from too much raw beef liver. I decided to add oysters and muscles to the protein resume.
Then I started getting tooth pains. And they were rare, not even on a weekly basis. They happened to occur after a heavy CHO day which was always an attempt to improve physical performance. Unfortunately, my muscles never felt like they would recover after these days, no matter how much CHO was ingested. I just regained some water weight. Then within the last few weeks, I noticed my teeth have all these brown flecks speckled across them. My teeth have never been pearly white like the magazines and have always been translucent around the edges but my yearly appointments (on SAD) were always stellar in terms of plaque, zero cavities, and gum health. So what the hell was going on?
A calcium deficiency is something I have always been thinking about. My daily MVI has around 22%, as time has gone by my calcium intake from plants has dropped as I have stopped eating them in such great quantities (although one could question how much is truly absorbed), at least two tins of sardines daily have been a staple in my diet from around the beginning of me going "paleo" (one reason being its 45% RDA of calcium), and then the addition of daily jars of bone broth (I cook the bones so long they start to cut like butter). So surely I was getting enough calcium right? Especially because calcium supplementation is not needed according to everyone, as it increases prostate risks and increases soft tissue deposits. And yes I was taking Life Extension's Vit K2 daily around the same time I was increasing CHO from safe starches.
After reading your post I finally said F*ck it and went out and bought some calcium citrate and popped 4 which is like 263% daily RDA. Around 15 minutes later, I have a full out marijuana-like high and the room is rocking back and forth. Maybe I was in need of some calcium or maybe CareOne is now lacing their supplements.
So that was lat night and I worked all night so I will see how the muscles feel after some sleep. My thoughts are that calcium in bone broth helped my extreme night time muscle cramps and my teeth are showing signs of deterioration. Its likely I could be calcium deficient. If in the next few days my muscles start feeling rejuvenated, I will be supplementing with calcium from now on. Hopefully my teeth will go back to normal because honestly I'm a little worried.
Some extra thoughts from wikipedia/online sources regarding hypocalcemia -can be caused by excessive magnesium supplementation (the more magnesium the less calcium) -can be caused by lack of vit D (I've been supplementing 1000-5000 units vit D from the get-go so I wouldn't blame that) -low calcium levels are associated with certain muscle cramps/spasms/tetany (all of which I have had) -Caffeine, oxalic acid, cortisol, protein, phytic acid all have "Potential negative interactions" with calcium metabolism (I dont do coffee but eat chocolate, get oxalic acid from plants, certainly get protein, no phytic acid for me though)
Extra Questions to Anyone -Why does high CHO loads seem to hurt my teeth? Is there a connection with insulin? -How would Grok have gotten enough calcium? I would have thought I was getting enough but my teeth would beg to differ. -Did you actually read this whole thing?
on October 12, 2011
at 05:31 AM
You should get a second opinion at a different clinic just to be certain that the dentist isn't cooroborating what his partner diagnosed. And if you have no cavities, you should report that guy. Seven cavities - if not really there - is ridiculous. It's criminal. It's ruining your mouth for nothing.
I had the same experience, BTW. Back when I had no cavities, a dentist said I had two. When I went to another dentist, he didn't find anything.
If the cavities are real, I'd advise you not to get amalgam (mercury) fillings.
on January 09, 2012
at 03:00 AM
it may be the case where your present cavities were hidden under the tartar and plaque that were scraped away during the recent cleaning.