Update: This post was originally published in 2016. Now it’s 2021, and in the interest of providing helpful information, I want to share what I’m doing now to reduce sensitivity.
I brush with a toothpaste from the company Boka that contains nano-hydroxyapatite, “a fortifying, 100% non-toxic version of hydroxyapatite, a mineral that makes up the primary foundation of teeth and bones.” It remineralizes teeth, reduces plaque, and reduces sensitivity.
I got a two-pack, a mint-cardamom-green tea flavor as well as their coconut-ginger flavor with chamomile, so I could try each flavor. So far, the coconut-ginger is the more refreshing flavor. If you want to try it, here’s my affiliate link.
My tooth sensitivity has diminished quite a bit, and cold water no longer makes me cringe!
Read on to learn about my path to get here.
I wanted to remineralize my tooth enamel after drinking water with lemon and noticing my teeth had become so sensitive it was scary. Drinking it first thing in the morning had softened my enamel, and by brushing my teeth right after drinking it, I was literally brushing my protective enamel away. Yikes.
My previous post from a couple of years ago contains many suggestions on how to drink water with lemon safely, preventing a loss of enamel.
After writing that post, I started researching how I could rebuild my tooth enamel. Now this is not something most dentists will tell you is even possible.
There is no hard scientific evidence about how to do this (so far, except for some data on fasting, which spurs the body to generate stem cells that repair tissues). Fortunately, one dentist did extensive research. More on him below.
Rebuilding tooth enamel is a process in which success is measured by having stronger, less sensitive, healthier teeth. It takes knowledge, time, and commitment. While I was working on this, I also wanted to improve my gum health.
To accomplish these goals, I took an approach that included changing my diet and supplements and refining my dental hygiene practices, including making a remineralizing toothpaste at home.
Diet and supplements make a difference
I adopted a Weston A. Price Foundation diet. Dr. Weston A. Price was the dentist who researched and wrote about the link between diet and dental health around the world. The WAPF diet is the basis for the Paleo diet (based on ancestral foodways):
- consume only full-fat raw dairy products from pastured animals, untreated with antibiotics and hormones
- avoid grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds or give them special preparation*
- eat lots of non-starchy vegetables
- consume fermented foods and drink daily
- drink bone broth or take gelatin or collagen daily
- consume very little sugar in any form
- eat healthy organic, pasture-raised meats
- consume only healthy, uncooked oils and fats (olive, coconut, avocado, and a few others)
- get plenty of Vitamin K2, essential for putting calcium in just the right places
*One little factoid of note here: Grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds are coated with phytic acid, which if not soaked away before eating, prevents the body from absorbing minerals. This means fewer minerals are available in your saliva to rebuild tooth enamel. This is one of the few things we do know about rebuilding tooth enamel, that minerals in your saliva make a difference. If you eat these foods while trying to rebuild tooth enamel, they should be soaked first to reduce phytic acid. You can then dehydrate or bake them on your lowest oven setting to restore the crunch.
The main cookbook I use for following this diet is Nourishing Traditions.
I believe that following this diet, over a couple of years, has healed my leaky gut and reduced inflammation in my body, as well as strengthened my tooth enamel.
I make sure I get Vitamin K2 in the form of gouda cheese, brie, egg yolks, ghee (and natto when I’m in a Japanese restaurant that serves it), and the paté I make from organic chicken livers. The information is evolving — read more here and here (the latter for sure if you take a statin).
My favorite supplement for bone and teeth health is New Chapter Bone Strength Take Care slim tabs (3 per day). They contain calcium, magnesium, Vitamin D3, Vitamins K1 and K2, and some trace minerals — what you need to build bone.
If you don’t produce enough stomach acid, you may not be breaking down nutrients in your food and supplements so they can be assimilated. Consider taking Betaine HCl to increase stomach acid — especially if you are past 40 years old, as stomach acid production declines with age — before consuming fats and proteins to improve your digestion and absorption. (If you’re on anti-inflammatory medications, talk to your doctor before taking it.) Here’s how to find the right dosage: Increase pills until you feel stomach burning (eat protein), then cut back by one any time you feel burning.
Note: Betaine is pronounced BEET-ah-een (surprising to me, too!).
Taking digestive enzymes before meals also helps your body assimilate the nutrients in your food. This formula from the NOW brand contains a small dose of Betaine Hcl as well as digestive enzymes, which aid in digesting proteins, fats, oils, carbohydrates, starches, and fiber, so you might want to try it by itself to see if it’s enough to help increase stomach acid.
There is considerable disagreement online about when to take Betaine HCl and digestive enzymes: before, during, or after a meal. I usually take them before, but if I forget, during or after seems better than never. If I forget to bring them, I take apple cider vinegar in water or squeeze lemon juice on my food.
Refining my dental hygiene practice
After brushing, I floss and use a Waterpik along my gum lines. Seeing tiny food particles going down the drain even after a thorough brushing and flossing convinced me that the Waterpik was a worthwhile investment. There are places a toothbrush or floss can’t reach, but water can.
Important: This is something I learned the hard way. Set your Waterpik on the lowest setting, 1 or 2. Using a high setting can weaken the tiny ligaments between your gums and teeth, deepening your periodontal pockets and making it easier for nasty gingivitis-causing bacteria to cause gum disease.
Also: aim it at right angles to the gum line. Don’t angle it to spray water under your gums, unless you are flushing a periodontal pocket with the tip designed to do that.
Tip: If your teeth are sensitive to cold water in the Waterpik, use warm water until your enamel has remineralized enough that your teeth are no longer sensitive to cold. Also, don’t add essential oils to the water reservoir as they can corrode the plastic. You can also add baking soda as long as you flush out the Waterpik with plain water afterward.
Some current attention is being given to the lack of research on the value of flossing, stating that we don’t really know if it helps, which seems like an odd oversight since all dentists recommend flossing daily but they don’t have data about its effectiveness. Personally, my mouth clearly tastes, feels, and smells cleaner when I floss than when I don’t. And…I’d like to see the data.
Sometimes when I’ve visited my dentist’s office for cleanings, I’ve asked the hygienist to print a copy for me of my Perio Comparison chart, which indicates gum pocket depth for each tooth. Pocket depths of 1-3 millimeters are considered healthy. Gum disease is considered to be present when pockets are 4 or more millimeters deep. I tape the Perio Comparison chart to my bathroom mirror and use a highlighter to mark the pockets with higher numbers, giving those pockets more attention.
I can see how each pocket has changed from visit to visit.
Warning: The chart is not intuitive for dental patients. B = cheek side, L = tongue side, starts on upper right back with tooth #1 (or #2 if wisdom tooth was removed), across to upper left back, then to lower left back and across to lower right back. If you need help interpreting it, ask your hygienist.
Easier way: When you floss, note areas of tenderness or bleeding, and pay extra attention there.
Making remineralizing toothpaste at home
For the past several years, I’ve used various “healthy” toothpastes including Tom’s of Maine, an Ayurvedic brand, and Earthpaste. They are expensive, and the color of the Earthpaste (greenish brown from clay) was hard to get used to.
I’ve experimented with making my own toothpaste, and this time when I ran out, I decided to make another batch at home, and I finally found a great formula. I’m really happy with it!
I measured these ingredients into a bowl:
I stirred and mushed it up to mix well.
To that I added:
- stevia to taste (get the purest, least processed brand you can find)
- 5-6 drops of high-quality essential oil (whatever flavor you prefer — mints taste good; oregano, myrrh, clove, neem, tea tree, Thieves, and On Guard oils are also good for dental health)
After mixing well and spooning it into a small jar, the final product is white, fluffy, a little gritty, a little effervescent at first, and tasty. After cleaning, my mouth feels super clean, and it has a very pleasant aftertaste.
Unlike mainstream commercial toothpastes, this recipe has no neurotoxins or carcinogenic or mutagenic ingredients. These are all food-grade ingredients that pose no risk of harm, even if you swallow a little when brushing.
The only downside I’ve encountered is that coconut oil congeals when cold and can clog your drain, so flush your drain with hot water to keep it draining well in cold weather or spit into a trash can.
If you find something else that works for remineralizing your tooth enamel and improving your gum health, please share!
h/t to Wellness Mama for getting me started on this toothpaste-making journey!
- Read my previous post about how drinking water with lemon softened my tooth enamel, and what I did to prevent it.
- Read a newer post, Healing a Deep Dental Pocket.
- Check out my Products I Recommend page.
Thanks for stopping by my blog!
Note: In one of the comments below, I recommended MI paste, and a reader posted that it contains fluoride, which is considered a neurotoxin. Please avoid fluoride if you can!