Avoiding sugar is not the only way to modify your nutrition to protect your teeth. You can develop stronger teeth, in addition to preventing dental caries and decay, by making sure you include vitamins K1, K2, A, & D in your diet.
Since I like to nerd out on nutrition, I have read a bunch of research articles and books, so you don’t have to do the work on finding out why and where to get these important nutrients. As a heads up, my list is by no means a comprehensive one.
K2 helps convert bone protein osteocalcin to its active form; allowing calcium to stay in bones.
Current research is exploring the relationship between K2 and the hypothalamus. K2 works as an antioxidant in the brain; most likely protecting the hypothalamus from stress. The hypothalamus is part of the limbic and endocrine system. When under stress, the hypothalamus decreases salivary production. Decreased salivation is not good for your teeth, since it works to protect them from dental caries and decay. In case you wanted to know more interesting information about saliva, it contains water, mucus, enzymes (ex. amylase & lipase), electrolytes (ex. Na, CI, & K), & immune chemicals (ex. IgA).
You can find K2 in nattō, cod liver oil, hard cheese, egg yolk, grass-fed butter, liver (more so from poultry sources), salami, chicken breast, ground beef. There is no known toxicity level for K2.
K1, like K2, helps calcium stay in bones. Low levels of K1 in blood has been associated with osteoporosis.
You can find K1 in dark green leafy vegetables, green tea, spinach, broccoli, lettuce, cabbage, asparagus, oats, whole wheat, & fresh green peas.
Deficiency in vitamin A can negatively impact the formation of developing teeth. The intake of vitamin A is associated with decreased dental caries in children, particularly when mothers ate vegetables during the prenatal period and when children consumed vegetables at a young age.
For preformed vitamin A, sources include liver, whole milk, cod liver oil, & fortified skim milk. Toxicity levels have been reported in people who supplement over 10,000 RE for many months or eat 6 to 24 lb. of liver per a week.
For vitamin A, formed by carotenes, sources include dark green leafy vegetables and yellow-orange vegetables. There is no known toxicity level for beta-carotenes.
Regulates calcium and phosphate absorption and reabsorption. In a review of of 24 controlled clinical trials, the intake of vitamin D demonstrated to be a possible factor for preventing dental cavities. As research is always refining its conclusion, further investigations need to be done to understand the relationship between the specific relationship between vitamin D and dental caries.
The best source is natural light on the skin.
In animal products, sources include cod-liver oil, cold water fish (ex. mackerel, salmon, & herring), butter, & egg yolks.
In plants, sources include dark green leafy vegetables.
Boerum, A.V. (December 2012) Supplement Usage and Its Effect on Oral Health Retrieved from http:// pubs.royle.com/display_article.php?id=1247271
Sheiham, A. James, W. P. (2014, October) A new understanding of the relationship between sugars, dental caries and fluoride use: implications for limits on sugars consumption. Public Health Nutr. 7(10): 2176-84. doi: 10.1017/S136898001400113X.
Southward, K. (2015, March) A hypothetical role for vitamin K2 in the endocrine and exocrine aspects of dental caries. Med Hypotheses. 84(3):276-80. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2015.01.011.
Yen, C.E. Huang, Y.C. Hu, S.W. (2010, June). Relationship between dietary intake and dental caries in preschool children. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 80(3):205-15. doi: 10.1024/0300-9831/a000022.
Dudding, T. Thomas, S.J. Duncan, K. Lawlor, D.A. Timpson, N.J. (2015, December 21). Re-Examining the Association between Vitamin D and Childhood Caries. PLoS One. 10(12):e0143769. doi: 10.1371/ journal.pone.0143769. eCollection 2015.
Wang, L. Tran, A.B. Nociti, F.H. Thumbigere-Math, V. Foster, B.L. Krieger, C.C. Kantovitz, K.R. Novince, C.M. Koh, A.J. McCauley, L.K. Somerman, M.J. (2015, October). PTH and Vitamin D Repress DMP1 in Cementoblasts. J Dent Res.
94(10):1408-16. doi: 10.1177/0022034515599726.
Murray, M. Pizzorno, J. Pizzorno, Lara. (2005). The Encyclopedia Of Healing Foods. New York, New York: Atria Books. Murray, M. Pizzorno, J. Pizzorno, Lara. The Encyclopedia Of Healing Foods.
Kresser, C. (May 2008). Vitamin K2: The Missing Nutrient. Retrieved from http://chriskresser.com/vitamin-k2-the-missing-nutrient/
Barker, J. The Health Perils of Gum Disease. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/ health-perils-of-gum-disease
PP Hujoel. (2013) Vitamin D and dental caries in controlled clinical trials: systematic review and meta- analysis. Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE): Quality-assessed Reviews [Internet].
Bauman College (April, 2016) NC 102.1 Lecture -Introduction & Upper GI Tract Retrieved from http://dashboard.baumancollege.org/pluginfile.php/10040/mod_resource/content/8/FON_Materials/102/Lecture/pdf/102_1_Handout_IntroUprGI_093013_040114_LS.pdf