Seriously, who wants cavities? They come with a host of other problems (like pain!) and cost money when we turn to the dentist to fix them. In fact, tooth problems have been an ancient concern.
I recently visited a museum that houses 2 mummies. One of the two individuals passed away due to a tooth infection. Her story reminded me of a documentary I saw when I was 7.
This documentary was also about ancient Egypt; it featured a mummy who also passed away from a tooth infection which spread to her brain. Since then I knew brushing teeth was honestly serious business…. but what other steps can we take to protect our teeth?
The Business of Cavities
how to make sure you never get a cavity again pic
In my mother-tongue, a cavity translates to “a bug in the tooth”. That doesn’t sound so appealing but it isn’t far-fetched either! A cavity is a hole in the tooth caused by tooth decay. We may not have literal bugs in our teeth, imagining of which would make my 5-year-old self-quiver, but we do have plenty (and I mean PLENTY) of bacteria in our mouth. The good news is that not all of them are bad, but the bad news is some of them are, and they contribute to tooth-decay and the formation of cavities!
How Cavities Can Form
Sugar -> Cavities
One way we can get cavities is if the bad bacteria in the mouth feast on the sugars that land in our mouth. While doing so, they produce acid which then produces holes in the teeth. Knowing this, it makes sense why limiting or eliminating sugar is bound to help prevent cavities. Another tip my dentist gave me is to make sure I rinse my mouth well after eating anything, especially sugary foods.
Minerals in our saliva, such as calcium and phosphates, help protect the enamel (the layer that surrounds our teeth and protects it) by supporting its repair. Knowing this sheds light on why nutritional deficiencies can lead to cavities. We want to make sure we are getting enough minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus in our diets.
Phytic Acid and Nutritional Deficiencies
We also want to be mindful when consuming foods high in phytic acid. This category can also include nuts. This may come as a surprise, as nuts are so essential to a healthy diet, especially for those who are vegetarian or raw food eaters. Yet there are ways we can enjoy these foods while keeping away the negative effects of phytic acid.
Phytic acid stores phosphorus in plants. It is present in “all edible seeds, grains, legumes, and nuts.” Phytic acid has a bad reputation as an anti-nutrient as it blocks minerals. According to Authority Nutrition, “phytic acid impairs the absorption of iron, zinc, and calcium, and may promote mineral deficiencies.” It can also draw out the ones already in our bodies.
As we discussed earlier, nutrient and mineral deficiencies can cause and worsen cavities. It’s no wonder why this effect of phytic acid is troublesome for avoiding and healing cavities. But wait a second, is it a complete villain?
Phytic acid only has the antinutrient effect on the body as its being consumed and processed, not long after. Therefore, it should be okay as long as we aren’t having it at every meal. In fact, some argue that phytic acid has positive effects as well, such as it being an antioxidant, having anti-cancerous abilities, and helping with cholesterol and blood sugar. We can lessen or completely get rid of phytic acid by preparing foods in specific ways.
According to Dr. Axe, “if you soak grains or nuts and then sprout them or do sourdough fermentation, you can reduce phytic acid by around 50 to 100 percent”.
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