Toothache, dental cavities, and sensitive teeth after cleaning are ubiquitous oral problems in westernised civilisations. And you can also suffer from tooth sensitivity to pain in response to cold, heat and acid.
I’m sure you’ve heard that fluoride, cutting down on your sugar intake, flossing, and brushing your teeth offer solutions to common dental problems. But is there anything else you can do to ease the discomfort of dental sensitivity after brushing your teeth?
What are some risk factors for tooth decay and sensitivity?
Shortly after my gadolinium contrast injection during an MRI scan back in 2016, I started to get sensitive teeth after cleaning and flossing. When I searched the gadolinium toxicity forums, I realised that I wasn’t alone. Many others also complained that they were experiencing heightened tooth sensitivity, new cavities, and worsening dental health.
I’m sure a prime reason for this is that gadolinium replaces calcium in our bodies and blocks calcium channels.
Developing holes in your teeth and tooth sensitivity are also familiar problems people adopting a vegan diet often face. This is because your teeth can quickly disintegrate on a plant-based diet.
If you’ve ever been a member of any chronic illness groups or forums, you’ll soon realise that poor dental health is a common topic for discussion. Especially how to heal cavities naturally.
So if you’re searching for sensitive teeth pain relief, you’re not alone. In 2020, an article on tooth sensitivity in France reported that over 2 in 5 people surveyed (42.2% to be precise) admitted suffering from sensitive teeth.
What are some of the most vital nutrients for strong teeth?
I’d had a bit of seasonal tooth sensitivity before. In my teens and twenties, I could happily chew on ice cubes in the summer, but during winter and spring, I found cold water from the tap caused sensitivity, even while brushing my pearly whites. Of course, I was vitamin D deficient. So the sensitivity disappeared when I started supplementing with decent amounts of vitamin D3 over the winter.
But the vitamin D3 hack stopped working once I had the gadolinium contrast, even though I didn’t consume sugar or sweets.
Can you get relief from sensitive teeth after cleaning?
Despite not using fluoride toothpaste, my tooth sensitivity now only pops up when I’m in the middle of a particularly unpleasant oxalate dump. And then it settles back down again within a few days. So how did I manage this? Read on. Because I’m going to let you into a secret you’ve never heard before.
Perhaps you’ve already come across ancestral health approaches to dental care. These promote fewer cavities and, if started before pregnancy and continued throughout childhood, naturally straighter gnashers and broader, more attractive faces.
The role of traditional diets in promoting healthier mouths
The ancestral health approach focuses on diet and lifestyle. But the dietary practices don’t end with reducing your intake of sugary foods and sugar-sweetened beverages. All antediluvian inspired diets recommend cutting out industrially processed foods and ingredients. Instead, they suggest that you base your diet on nose-to-tail animal-sourced foods and traditionally-prepared plants.
Ancestral-based diets include the following:
- paleo diet,
- primal diet,
- Whole 30,
- Weston A Price Foundation (WAPF) recommendations,
- Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD),
- GAPS diet,
- the autoimmune protocol (AIP),
- Wahls Protocol Plus,
Most people following the carnivore (zero carb) diet usually adhere to traditional principles when preparing their food. And although traditional dietary patterns aren’t part of the description, many ketogenic and low carb diets are also often practised in an ancestral way.
How removing common inflammatory foods can improve dental health and the pain from sensitive teeth
Certain foods are often cut out since many of these diets are elimination diets. Often the eliminated foods include:
- gluten and other grains,
- soy and other pulses, and
But they may also suggest eliminating nuts, seeds, nightshades, and eggs. This list of foods contains some of the most prevalent causes of food intolerances. In susceptible people, they can cause inflammation of the gut wall that interferes with digestion and absorption. In this way, they can contribute to malnutrition and systemic inflammation.
On the other hand, some ancestral diets, like the WAPF diet, focus on raw and/or fermented dairy from pastured animals, particularly when reducing your risk of cavities or even if you’re trying to heal small tooth cavities.
Most people by now are aware that teeth contain a lot of calcium, so they often believe that foods that are a good source of calcium will be good for their teeth. And that usually means dairy products like cheese, milk and yoghurt.
Using an elimination and reintroduction diet, I find that many of my clients have an undiagnosed dairy intolerance before they start working with me. But the good news is that many people can successfully reintroduce dairy products again after their guts have had a chance to heal a bit. I also removed dairy from my diet for three years when I discovered it was causing my acne. I’ve written about what I learned from that experience here. And when I reintroduced raw milk, colostrum, and butter, I tolerated dairy beautifully.
Key takeaways about elimination diets
An ancestral-type of elimination diet can help improve tooth sensitivity by improving digestive health so that you can absorb and use nutrients more effectively. At the same time, focusing on nutrient-dense, real food optimises nutrient intake. Nutrient density is pivotal because teeth need more than simply calcium to grow strong and healthy. More on that later.
Predominant trigger foods include:
- the seeds of plants (seeds, nuts, cereal grains, pseudocereals, and legumes/pulses),
- eggs and
- nightshade vegetables/fruit.
You may be able to successfully reintroduce some of these trigger foods after your gut has had some time to heal. However, be careful you don’t overconsume plant foods high in oxalates, such as spinach, Swiss chard, sweet potatoes, and figs.
Nutrients your teeth need to remain cavity and sensitivity-free and where to find them
If you’re part of the ancestral health community, you’ll also know that the fat-soluble vitamins A, D3 and K2, are essential for healthy bones and teeth. In addition, they work together to maintain calcium homeostasis.
And you’ll be aware that grass-fed dairy from cattle that have been grazing outside is a source of all three of these vitamins. So that looks like an automatic win for pastured dairy.
But do you know what the top source of active vitamin A is? It’s not carrots or sweet potatoes, which both contain inactive carotenes. Instead, the principal source of vitamin A is liver. And it’s the winner by a country mile.
Some other nutrients you may be familiar with are essential for dental health, like magnesium, protein, and vitamin C.
So far, so good. But none of this is revelatory if you’re a frequent follower of any ancestral health blogs.
Key takeaways about fat-soluble vitamins
We need the fat-soluble vitamins A, D3 and K2 to form and maintain healthy teeth. Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed with the help of bile salts. And bile salts are released when you eat a fatty meal.
It’s hard to get enough vitamin D from natural food sources alone. In the summer, you can make vitamin D when your bare skin (without sunscreen) is exposed to the sun in the middle of the day. But in winter, many people will need to take a vitamin D3 and K2 supplement.
It’s easy to get sufficient vitamin A from your diet if you eat liver a couple of times a week.
Introducing molybdenum: an underappreciated mineral
Have you heard about the research linking molybdenum deficiency with tooth cavities? Don’t feel bad if you haven’t. Unfortunately, I doubt many dentists are aware of it either.
What does molybdenum do?
Molybdenum is an essential mineral. It’s critical for a handful of enzymes to function. And it’s also a structural component of healthy teeth along with other trace minerals like manganese.
Several molybdenum-dependent enzymes are involved in elimination or detoxification pathways.
In particular, molybdenum is critical for pathways that use sulphates by acting as a cofactor for a mitochondrial enzyme called sulfite oxidase (SUOX).
Molybdenum is also an essential avenue for eliminating highly toxic compounds called aldehydes from your body by acting as the cofactor for the enzyme aldehyde oxidase.
And molybdenum helps to catalyse the production of uric acid (an excessive buildup of which causes painful gout). We make uric acid during the breakdown of a group of chemicals called purines. Purines are the building blocks for DNA and RNA and our universal energy currency; ATP. When purines are damaged and can no longer be recycled, we need to dispose of them. So we convert them into uric acid to pass in our urine.
How molybdenum is involved in nitrogen balance and metabolism
Lastly, another mitochondrial enzyme that is most likely also involved in cellular detoxification needs molybdenum to function. This enzyme is called the mitochondrial amidoxime reducing component, or mARC for short. mARC enzymes are implicated in detoxifying some compounds containing nitrogen, such as trimethylamine oxide (or TMAO) and nitrites.
Also, mARC helps convert the amino acid arginine into nitric oxide. We need nitric oxide to help us maintain normal blood pressure. In addition, neonatologists use inhaled nitric oxide to save the lives of critically ill babies with pulmonary hypertension (a severe form of lung disease sometimes occurring at birth).
And there’s also some tantalising evidence suggesting that the activity of mARC may be necessary for maintaining normal blood glucose levels and fat storage. So there’s a good chance that molybdenum plays a crucial role in your metabolism.
Nitric oxide is also a gaseous neurotransmitter that regulates:
- gut motility,
- our pain responses,
- memory formation and sleep,
- skeletal muscle metabolism and contractions, and
- our immune defences against infections and cancer.
What a remarkable little molecule nitric oxide is! But making nitric oxide uses up a lot of nutrients. As well as molybdenum, nitric oxide synthesis needs:
- the amino acid arginine (which we can make from other amino acids like citrulline, ornithine, or glutamate),
- riboflavin (vitamin B2),
- haem (iron),
- tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4),
- calcium, and
- niacin (vitamin B3).
The other molybdenum-dependent metabolic pathways I mentioned above frequently rely on other vitamins and minerals as well. In particular, the B vitamins riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxal-5-phosphate (B6), and the mineral iron work alongside molybdenum. Meanwhile, molybdenum helps regulate the amount of copper in your body.
What’s that got to do with teeth?
Teeth and bones are mineralised connective tissues. A typical tooth has a durable, protective layer over the part exposed to your saliva called enamel. Enamel is the hardest tissue in the body but can be eroded by acids and demineralised by malnutrition and certain toxins.
Beneath the enamel, there is another hard substance called dentin. Dentin makes up most of the tooth above and below the gum line. It’s more flexible and compressible than enamel because it has a structure and composition that’s similar to bone. Dentin is also a tender, living tissue. It can get damaged and repair itself (to an extent) with the aid of specialised cells.
Damage to exposed dentin occurs after the enamel has worn away or the gums have receded to reveal the tooth’s root, resulting in sensitive teeth after cleaning. Dentin hypersensitivity is what dentists call tooth sensitivity. Triggers for dentin hypersensitivity are often heat, cold, acid, touch, or even dry air (e.g. from an air jet).
Even though the sudden twinge you experience from dentin hypersensitivity is brief, it can appear abruptly and cause you distress. And sensitive teeth pain relief can be challenging to achieve. But remineralising your teeth using diet and supplements can help you attain some sensitive teeth pain relief.
Looking for sensitive teeth pain relief? With the right diet and supplements, you can remineralise your teeth and reduce dental pain
What is dentin composed of?
By weight, dentin is slightly more than two-thirds made of inorganic minerals. The minerals are primarily calcium and phosphate in the form of hydroxyapatite. Water constitutes up to 10% of dentin. The water runs through minuscule tubules throughout the dentine and transports substances through it.
Organic materials form the remaining 20% of dentin. Most of these are collagen proteins. The other main non-collagenous proteins found in dentin include dentin sialoprotein and an acidic protein called phosphophoryn.
Dentin (and bone) also contain a small but clinically significant amount of carbohydrates.
Glycosaminoglycans are animal carbohydrates
The carbohydrates found in mineralised connective tissues (bone and dentin) are called glycosaminoglycans (GAGS). Glycosaminoglycans are anchored to proteins called proteoglycans. Dentin sialoprotein is an example of a proteoglycan. The glycosaminoglycans are also sulfated (bound to sulfate).
Just because glycosaminoglycans contribute very little of the weight of connective tissues, including dentin and bone, doesn’t mean that they’re unimportant. Research shows that glycosaminoglycans are even more important than protein for teeth to mineralise adequately. Chondroitin sulfate appears to be the chief glycosaminoglycan involved in mineralising dentin.
You might recognise chondroitin sulphate because it’s a popular supplement used by people with osteoarthritis alongside glucosamine. So well done if you’ve guessed that chondroitin sulfate plays an essential role in joint health as well as tooth and bone health. Chondroitin sulfate and other glycosaminoglycans can be found throughout your body wherever there are connective tissues.
Sulfated glycosaminoglycans and tooth sensitivity
Let’s recap. The hard, mineralised parts of teeth are rich in minerals and trace elements, especially calcium, phosphate and magnesium. The carbohydrate parts of proteoglycans, called glycosaminoglycans (GAGS), facilitate tooth mineralisation with hydroxyapatite (calcium and phosphate). In addition, glycosaminoglycans are bound to sulphate.
Molybdenum, protein, vitamin B6, riboflavin, magnesium, and energy are needed to form sulfates.
We can’t use any old protein to make sulphates either. Instead, we need proteins rich in the amino acids cysteine or methionine because we use cysteine to make almost all our sulphate. Top dietary sources of cysteine and methionine are from animals, so you should follow a minimally processed diet rich in animal proteins.
So without adequate molybdenum, you will struggle to keep up with the demand for sulphate in your body. But sulphate has its fingers in many pies. For example, sulphate is an essential molecule in several detoxification and bioactivation pathways for:
And we also need sulphate to synthesise:
- specific proteins (protein tyrosine sulfation),
- intestinal mucins, and of course,
How much molybdenum do you need?
We have no idea how much molybdenum the average person is ingesting. The molybdenum in your diet depends on your geographic location almost as much as your food. Differences in soil molybdenum content result in a wide range of dietary intakes of molybdenum. When soil molybdenum becomes depleted, as happens in many areas, foods will contain far less molybdenum.
Nor do we know the optimal intake of molybdenum. The recommended dietary allowance is based on two studies with four healthy young men in each study. The studies looked at molybdenum absorption from the gut and elimination in the urine to determine molybdenum balance. They assumed that these youths had an adequate molybdenum balance if they could measure an increase in the amount of molybdenum passed in the urine when dietary intake increased. Then extrapolated those results to people of all ages and health statuses.
If you think about it, you’d never use those criteria to determine how much water, calcium, sugar, or sodium a healthy young man needed. Nobody absorbs all the water, salt or calcium from their gut. And you don’t determine the adequate intake of water for a person based on the point that their kidneys completely stop functioning due to dehydration. Just saying.
I also find it frustrating that “the experts” developed recommendations for an adequate molybdenum intake for every human on the planet after studying eight young, healthy adult males. Does that strike you as sufficient experimentation? I’d be much happier if “the powers that be” admitted there is insufficient evidence to draw conclusions on adequacy. And called for more research.
What might increase your molybdenum requirements?
Sulfur-containing supplements, preservatives, and drugs may also increase your molybdenum requirements. For example, if you have a sulphite intolerance and find that wine or dried fruits like apricots cause an allergic reaction, make you sick and give you headaches, it might be the sulphite preservatives. Is this a sign that you have higher molybdenum requirements than average? It could be. It’s a shame I couldn’t find a single study testing this hypothesis.
And what about people with oxalate toxicity? Do some of us need more molybdenum to drive sulphate production and transport oxalate out of our cells and tissues?
Which foods are the top sources of molybdenum?
The top dietary sources of molybdenum are liver and legumes. So if you are consuming a low carbohydrate diet, especially if you don’t eat liver regularly, your molybdenum intake may be lacking. But even if you eat pulses regularly, you may have increased requirements for molybdenum because of toxicity and inflammation.
So it may make sense for you to supplement with molybdenum.
Are there any drawbacks to supplementing with molybdenum to help reduce tooth sensitivity?
If you suffer from gout, you might find that supplementing with higher doses of molybdenum increases blood uric acid levels. High uric acid can cause painful gout flareups.
Although it’s also possible that supplementing with molybdenum increases sulphate production. Then the sulphates are exchanged for oxalates causing oxalate dumping. The symptoms of oxalate dumping and gout can be difficult to distinguish, and some people can experience both simultaneously.
Molybdenum can also lower your copper levels. In some situations, this can be a good thing. In fact, if you suffer from a rare disorder of copper toxicity called Wilson’s disease, your doctor will prescribe a type of molybdenum supplement to bring your liver copper levels back down towards a healthier level.
But if your copper status is borderline, high doses of molybdenum can even cause a copper deficiency. The best dietary source of copper is liver (also a top molybdenum source). So please remember to eat some organic liver at least a couple of times a week.
The importance of nutrient balance when dealing with sensitive teeth
I hope it’s clear now why you must have adequate intakes of many nutrients if you’re considering supplementing with molybdenum. You don’t want to upset the balance of other essential nutrients. Fortunately, liver is an excellent source of all of these nutrients, which makes including liver in your diet at least every week a no-brainer.
If you’re wondering whether these supplements and dietary suggestions might also improve other aspects of your health like your energy levels, clearer skin and reduced digestive upset, the answer is yes.
Dental health is linked to your physical and even mental health. This makes more sense if you think about your health holistically. Many vital nutrients play related roles in multiple cell and tissue types while the impacts of toxicity and stress will play out in every part of your body.
So if you’re not sure how to introduce dietary changes to help your dental health and your physical and mental health, why not schedule a free clarity call coaching consultation with me to chat about it? Click the link here to book.