Can Eating Like a Caveman Cure Tooth Decay? The Paleo Diet vs Oral Health
By now you've probably heard at least a little bit about the Paleo Diet. It's a diet plan that began, as many of these things do, over in The States, 'pioneered' by Dr. Loren Cordain, a historian by original trade. The idea is that you alter your diet to make it more like one that Stone Age people may have eaten and this, the theory goes, is a far healthier way to eat than 'modern people' are generally used to doing.
Whether or not the Paleo Diet is a good thing or another crazy fad is not something we are really going to get into too far. The 'movement' has its fans and its critics and even noted medical professionals can't quite agree whether eating like a caveman (cave person) is really that good for you. What we do want to get into however, is the question of does following a Paleo diet lead to tooth decay or other oral health problems or does it prevent these things?
Paleo Diet Basics
OK, so the Paleo Diet says you'll be eating like your distant, distant, distant ancestors. But what does that actually mean? In general, apparently that means a diet that's high in fat, moderate in animal protein and low to moderate in carbohydrates. And as few 'over-processed' food items as possible. Calorie counting is not encouraged, neither is strict portion control. Oh and there is no dairy allowed and bread of any kind (actually all grains in general, as caveman supposedly did not have them) is right out too.
Paleo and Your Teeth
So you think you're ready to ditch sandwiches, soda and dairy and give this Paleo stuff a try. But what is the change going to do to your teeth? Well, in some ways chances are that it can only be a good thing. As the diet emphasizes eating far less sugar, then in terms of basic dental health and cavity prevention it has to be a plus.
One potential downside of the Paleo diet as far as your teeth are concerned however is the lack of dairy. You've probably been told since you were a little kid that milk builds strong bones and teeth and research has proved again and again that yes, calcium does build stronger teeth and they are teeth that you are likely to hold onto longer as well. This does not necessarily rule out the Paleo diet though, you'll just need to make sure you eat plenty of nondairy, 'Paleo- Friendly' sources of calcium like broccoli, edamame, salmon (even the canned stuff is OK) and tofu if you still want the stronger teeth (and bones) boost that calcium offers.
The Tooth Decay Cure Claim
lAs is the case for almost every trendy diet plan, there are a lot of wild claims made about the benefits of the Paleo Diet and one is that it can 'cure' tooth decay. The simple answer to this is no, it can't. The diet may cut out some of the things that can cause tooth decay - like all of those added sugars - but only proper oral hygiene and getting regular dental checkups will do that. So go ahead and eat like a caveman if you like, but understand that proper dental care is a must for everyone, even those eating the VERY old-fashioned d way.
The #EmergencyDentist Says:
Whether you prefer a cheese sandwich and a big glass of milk or grass fed beef and broccoli rabe for lunch, everyone needs proper dental care and they need it for life, whether their current diet is based in the 21st century or it's from 10,000 years ago.