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Dean George is the Marketing Specialist and Content Creator for Dental Insurance
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So Easy, Even Cavemen Did It

May 08, 2013

Today’s post is by Felicia Papier.  

Welcome to the second installment of our May series on healthy foods that keep your teeth happy.  Today we’ll talk about how the Paleo diet can keep your teeth shining bright.  Now, I am not trying to sell you car insurance as the title of this post implies.  (Dental insurance, yes, but I digress.)  I am going to sell you on the eating habits of Paleolithic humans and how they may hold the key to better overall health and a great smile.  Eating Paleo is pretty simple…I mean, cavemen obviously did it!

So Easy, Even Cavemen Did It

Photo source: 123rf.com

I won't be able to convince many of you to give up all the foods that you give up when you  go Paleo – even if it has been documented to help cure diabetes and other modern day diseases.  I will tell you from experience it’s hard to give up that delicious goat cheese and caramelized onion pasta, the French toast and bagels with cream cheese.  But here’s the catch.  Those foods were ruining the inside of my body, so I decided to repair it.  Since going Paleo in January of this year, I have dropped unwanted weight, toned my body, I have glowing skin, my hereditary migraines are gone, I have more energy, I sleep better and I smile more.  My dentist told me my oral health has never been better! 

Have I convinced you?  Nope, I can see you are still stuck on the bagels… Ok, enough about me.  Let’s talk the good, the bad and the ugly about teeth and Paleo. 

The Bad: The Modern Diet Does Affect Your Teeth.

We have all learned the basics of the food pyramid and that whole grains, starches, dairy and meat play a significant part.  Cake, ice cream, candy and soda have also become a part of the pyramid.  When you eat grains, starches and sweet treats, plaque, which contains bacteria, builds up on your teeth and causes tooth decay.  The first layer to go is your enamel.  It’s eaten away by the sugary acid the food and bacteria have created. 

The dentin in your teeth actually has the ability to regenerate, but it needs minerals like calcium, magnesium and phosphorous to do so.  However, it’s not really the amount that you consume; it’s how much is actually absorbed by the body.  So it’s useless to chug a gallon of milk, especially when you also eat a lot of grains.  Why?  Because grains contain phytates which bind up all of the good minerals and make them impossible for the body to digest and use.  Yup, you just got a milk mustache for nothing.  Once bacterium gets into your pulp and hits the nerves, you are guaranteed a place in the dental hot seat.

The Good:  The T-Rex Had Great Teeth.

Ever noticed that the animal kingdom doesn’t have widespread dental problems?  Yeah, ok, they don’t go to the dentist, but that’s the kicker… they wouldn't ever NEED to.  The core of Paleo deletes grains, sugars, and modern vegetable oils in favor of high-quality meat, fish, eggs and vegetables, all of which are available for animals and humans to eat.  Without sugars forming bacteria in your mouth, there is nothing to attack your tooth enamel causing decay, cavities and other oral diseases. 

One major dental concern is periodontitis.  Periodontitis is widely regarded as the second most common disease worldwide (after dental decay) and 30% to 50% of the United States population suffers from it.   This disease affects tissue around the teeth, causing inflammation and can also lead to bone loss.  Studies have shown that adopting the Paleo diet can help relieve the uncomfortable and unsightly effects of periodontitis. 

Even celebrities have gotten on the bandwagonCan you really argue with Jessica Biel, Megan Fox and Matthew McConaughey?  They all changed their diets to Paleo and just look at them…  Crossfit gyms around the country integrate Paleo into their mantras to improve your overall health.  Jenna Tieman, co-owner and certified level 1 trainer at Hoosier Crossfit in Bloomington, IN, changed to the Paleo diet several years ago when she realized her poor health was getting in the way of how she wanted to live her life.  Jenna suffered from digestion issues, fatigue, LOTS of cavities and dental problems.  “Since taking on Paleo, I am in the best shape of my life.  I have a mouth full of fillings but Paleo has kept the cavities away and I haven’t been back in the dentist’s chair!  It’s pretty strange to think that a grain can turn into straight sugar right in your mouth and affect your teeth like that,” Jenna says.  And since Jenna is my Crossfit coach and my personal Paleo Guru, I can attest that she is a little T-Rex herself! 

The Ugly: A Pulp (Paleo) Fiction.

Teeth are made up of enamel, dentin, pulp, nerves and blood vessels.  Damage to any of these parts can make for a miserable existence.  For those who are still holding onto those bagels tight, it’s ok for now.  Just remember that you can help reverse your poor oral health by changing your diet.  Some Paleo nay-sayers think you are missing essential vitamins and minerals by eating this way, but in fact, just like any other dietary change, you find different ways to supplement those items in your diet.  

Pulp (Paleo) Fiction

Photo source: dearpaleo.com

Don’t get me wrong, changing to Paleo doesn’t mean you get to skip the dentist every six months.  And, not having dental insurance is not an excuse either, especially since you can find great plans here

My mother-in-law told me that cavemen didn’t live very long lives, so how could their diet be good for us?  If you look back, there were no diseases in the Paleolithic era, just saber-tooth tigers…I think that was what may have done them in. 

Be sure to stay tuned next week when Dean will be giving you more delicious foods to make your mouth water and your teeth healthy!  Thanks for reading, and remember, “A man begins cutting his wisdom teeth the first time he bites off more than he can chew.” – Herb Caen.  Why not start those chompers on some good Paleo eatin’?

Sources: NaturallyEngineered.com, Paleodietlifestyle.com, Jenna Tieman – Hoosier Crossfit, EverydayPaleo.com


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