The Ontario government has recently announced that more children from low-income families will be receiving free dental care.
Ontario’s health minister was quoted as saying that “Good oral health is an important component of good overall health.”
Although I agree with the Ontario government’s support for low-income families, it seems to me that it’s missing an important point.
Good health, including good oral and dental health, depends most on a healthy diet. The healthier the food you eat, the healthier you will be and the healthier your teeth will be.
I think that giving low-income families a subsidy to buy healthy food would contribute a lot more to their children’s oral health than giving them free dental treatments.
The tragedy for low-income families is that often they are not able to afford healthy food. The cheapest food available to them is usually not the healthiest food. The cheapest food is usually sugar laden and not very nutritious.
Dental cavities are caused by inadequate nutrition that weakens teeth and gums and makes them more prone to infections. Typically, we then go to the dentist to have our teeth fixed. Dentists oblige us, often without taking the time to explain that it is possible for teeth to repair themselves, especially in the early stages of decay, if we start eating healthier food.
If a healthy diet is introduced, teeth can heal themselves. Yes, it is possible to reverse cavities and remineralize your teeth, provided the decay isn’t too advanced, by starting to eat healthier food.
To prevent and even heal cavities in teeth,
- stop eating all sugar-containing foods, including soft drinks
- avoid using sweeteners, especially artificial sweeteners
- start eating foods that have lots of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and protein
The fat-soluble vitamins A and D are especially important for remineralizing teeth, along with the minerals calcium and phosphorus. Getting enough protein in the diet is also important for healthy teeth. Foods that contain these nutrients are cod liver oil, seafood, meat, organ meats, eggs, and dairy products. Vegetables contain minerals that are good for teeth, so even vegetarians can repair their teeth.
If you have a lot of cavities, it would be best to avoid eating grains and grain products such as bread for a few weeks. Unfermented grains contain phytic acid, which can damage teeth by drawing minerals from them, leading to tooth decay.
If you maintain a healthy diet in addition to avoiding all sugar and reducing grain consumption, you should see results in about six weeks.
Eating healthier will do a lot more for your overall health, including your oral health, than free dental treatments.