How to cure tooth decay on a tight budget
Holistic strategies to cure tooth decay and prevent cavities will save you money, pain and unnecessary dental interventions. However, for those of us on a tight budget, the teeth healing diet in Ramiel Nagel's book Cure Tooth Decay * can seem out of reach at first glance.
Cure Tooth Decay is the book that enabled me to prevent what would have been my seventh root canal and any significant cavities for the past five years. It provides detailed instructions for an 'ideal' teeth healing diet which I have never followed strictly, due to the limitations of my own budget, local availability, preferences, intolerance or addictions.
What foods are the priority to cure your tooth decay?
Good quality food and supplements don't come cheap, but that doesn't have to mean holistic teeth healing is as expensive as good quality dental care. I'm often asked what I eat for my teeth and today's post was prompted by a reader emailing me to ask what strategies I would prioritise on a tight budget. Since I'm naturally frugal, and under the constraints of starting a business right now, this is a very timely question.
However, what works for my teeth, won't necessarily work for yours. Every body's body is different, and the causes of tooth decay are complex and personal. You will need to experiment and find the most effective strategies that work for you within your budget.
I recommend referring to my teeth healing food ladder my FREE ebook, Feed Your Teeth. I created this ladder both to summarize the main features of the teeth healing diet detailed in Cure Tooth Decay, and as a guide for interpreting it to suit your circumstances, whether you are vegan, broke, geographically unable to access fresh produce, or otherwise needing to compromise.
The trick is to eat as high on the ladder as you can afford and have access to and to avoid the teeth harming foods at the bottom of the ladder as much as possible.
Inexpensive teeth healing foods
- Liver and other organ meats
- Canned fish such as tuna, salmon and sardines- eat the skin and bones as this is where much of the teeth healing value can be found
- White rice instead of brown rice, quinoa or pasta etc
- Seasonal local vegetables. Grow your own or seek out bargains such as greens from Asian grocers which are often much cheaper than mainstream spinach or fashionable kale.
- Foraged, wild foods and 'weeds' such as nettle and dandelion which are mineral-rich, full of flavor and a regular part of my diet. To learn more about foraging for teeth healing herbs I recommend Alternatives to Dentists, a video course from Marjorie Wildcraft*.
Cook from scratch
Making food from scratch is always going to be healthier and can often be cheaper than buying pre-prepared ingredients or meals.
- Bone broth made into vegetable soup or risotto
- Fermenting a glut of vegetables when in season. Fermented foods help your digestion to assimilate teeth healing nutrients from the rest of your food.
- Stews. casseroles and soups made with cheap cuts of meat with the bone in eg goat shank or ox tail. The slow cooking helps to release teeth healing minerals from the bones and cartilage.
Investing a little extra to cure tooth decay
Where I do choose to invest more money for teeth healing nutrition is usually on a small selection of staple foods of very high, though not highest, quality and one supplement. As a household of two adults living in New Zealand, we spend about $75 per week on these foods (which is about $25 more than we could spend on less healing, or harmful, versions of these staples).
Cod Liver Oil
Nordic Naturals Arctic Cod Liver Oil *(without added vitamin D) is cold-pressed so not quite as teeth healing as the fermented brands of Green Pastures and Rosita. However, it is the brand I healed, and have maintained, my teeth with so it works well enough for me at about $50 per month. I order it online from I-Herb which is the most affordable source of high quality supplements and has unbelievably cheap postage- even to New Zealand. (This is a rewards link, so if you do choose to purchase from I-Herb you will receive 5% off of your order, and I may receive a small discount on my next order too. Win win!)
Non-organic, grass-fed Butter
I'm lucky to live in the heart of dairy country in New Zealand, where grass-fed butter is the norm. New Zealand's Anchor butter is exported to many countries and is one of the most affordable high-quality fast-grass-growth butters. I look out for it on special and freeze it (about $4 per week).
Slow-ferment sourdough is the least teeth-harming bread, so if you are able to access a good sourdough bakery, or have time to make your own slow fermented loaves, this is a worthwhile investment (about $6 per week).
When I can get it, I invest about $14 /week in raw milk. Raw milk is illegal to sell retail in most parts of the world, but in many places people get around the rules with creative solutions such as co-owning herds or purchasing directly from the farmer. Because raw milk is one of the best sources of Activator-X (the super teeth-healing nutrient found only in a very few foods) it is worth going to the trouble and expense of seeking it out. However, if raw milk is not an option, invest in the best possible pasteurized milk:
- full-fat, whole milk as the most teeth healing nutrients are in the creamy milk fats
- grass-fed milk, especially in spring and summer when the grass grows fastest producing Activator X
- non-homogenised (homogenised milk may be actively harmful for teeth)
- fresh (not UHT or powdered which are actively teeth harming)
Free range, pastured, eggs
Eggs are a great source of protein, especially when eaten raw (I blend them with raw milk for a breakfast smoothie every day). Eggs from chickens fed only grain will not be so teeth healing, so avoid 'cage-free' or battery eggs. Even if grain is the majority of a chicken's diet, eggs from pastured chickens that also eat grass and insects will be more nutritious for your teeth than cheaper eggs (about $16/week).
Organic pasteurized cheese
Mainland brand cheese in New Zealand sells a block of mild organic cheddar cheese. It's usually a few dollars more expensive than the equivalent non-organic cheese, but it does a better job of helping to cure tooth decay by being reliably grass-fed and free from GM feeds, pesticides and herbicides all of which inhibit the body's ability to create teeth healing hormones and proteins. I look out for it on special and buy in bulk when I can (about $6/week).
Other affordable holistic strategies to cure tooth decay
Avoiding teeth harming foods at the bottom of the ladder in the Feed Your Teeth e-book can do almost as much to heal your teeth as adding in actively teeth healing foods.
Cleaning your mouth with homemade toothpaste and mouthwash can be as effective as expensive alternatives.
Relax your jaw daily with my curated list of TMJ self-help exercises on You Tube. This will help your teeth from cracking and chipping, keep them straighter, and save you money on a nightguard and even more expensive adjustments.
All external links on this page are to my affiliate partners. I only recommend products and sellers I use and love myself. As a very frugal Fairy, affordability is as important to me as quality. If you choose to purchase through any of these links I may receive a small payment or discount. Win win!