This article is the follow up on what causes receding gums and how to stop it. In the last article, we explored how gum recession can only happen when the underlying bone tissue of the upper and lower jaw has diminished through the process of demineralization.
In this article, we will explore together various methods and strategies to support and optimize maintaining bone density in the jaws as well as how we can actually rebuild bone tissue that has been demineralized.
To get started, however, we feel the need to restate our stance on a common myth circulating the internet about receding gums…
To our knowledge, once the gum tissue has receded, it will not ‘regrow’ back up to the ‘height on the tooth’ that it was originally. Now, that doesn’t suggest that we can’t strengthen our jaw bones to stop any further recession or that our teeth will become loose(r) which results in the #1 reason adults lose teeth.
Gum tissue can only recede once the underlying bone has pulled back. And we can remineralize this bone tissue, but only within the current structure of jaw bone still intact.
With that stated, let’s move to some solutions for how we can support optimal bone density and remineralization.
Questions at the edge of ‘knowing’…
You know that you’re really diving into the research when you find yourself reading research papers that start with “Gingival inflammation, bacterial infection, alveolar bone destruction, and subsequent tooth loss are characteristic features of periodontal disease, but the precise mechanisms of bone loss are poorly understood.”(1)
It seems that when we reach the limits of our current understanding, that’s where the solutions can really present themselves if we resist the temptation to think we know the answers.
So, let’s explore what dental science knows and see if any solutions present themselves…
1. Stop gum disease
This is kind of self-evident, but it’s worth stating here. In order to have any hope of rebuilding bone tissue in the jaws, we have to make sure that the #1 cause of bone loss in adults (advanced gum disease) isn’t continuing to undermine our oral health.
While we aren’t after the ‘scorched earth’ approach to ‘eradicating bad bugs’, we think it wise to grasp under what circumstances these disease-causing bacteria live and thrive so we can ideally disrupt and disorganize their efforts to destroy our bodies.
A great place to start is oral hygiene. Knowing how to brush your teeth to reduce gum disease, why brushing is so important, how to floss consciously and what order is best for our oral hygiene habits are all excellent steps toward increasing our knowledge of how to disrupt and disorganize the ‘bad bugs’.
2. Can jaw exercise help prevent receding gums?
We think there is substantial merit to an argument that’s been recently explored in real food and paleo discussions. Does eating a processed food diet lacking fiber to chew functionally cause us to lose our oral health?
We’re all clear that eating a diet that lacks the nutrition necessary to create and maintain optimal health definitely contributes to a decline in our oral health. That’s been proven over and over again by all the giants we quote like Weston Price, Melvin Page, Ralph Steinman, and Edward and May Mellanby, to name a few of our favorite heroes on this subject.
But does the actual fact that processed foods are soft contribute to a weakening of the jaw bones?
We’re talking about the physical action of chewing on foods that require that we chew them to break them down. This action of chewing activates one of the ‘universal laws’, we call it ‘Use it or Lose it’.
Bottom line, the bone density in our jaws, or anywhere else in the body for that matter, will diminish if we don’t put stress/demand on them saying, “Hey, we want this bone tissue to stay strong and healthy”. The body has an innate intelligence of conservation and thriftiness about it. If the body senses that the bones in the jaw aren’t being stressed/challenged, the body will shunt the minerals from that area to another area that has a greater need for bone building minerals.
We want to be sure to gently yet persistently challenge our bodies. Whether it’s working out to stress the bones to avoid osteoporosis and maintain muscle mass or challenging our mental faculties with memory games or crossword puzzles to challenge our cognitive function, the body grows stronger when it’s (gently) challenged.
Our favorite ‘use it or lose it’ solutions for strong teeth and jaws.
Any food that you really have to dig in and chew is a great workout for our jaw bone density. A quality organic jerky is a great ‘to go’ workout that also provides a source of quality nutrition. Also, we have found a good sized snip of raw parsley, enough to make a mouthful, has loads of nutrition and fiber to chew and get a jaw workout.
While some may point to raw carrots, we find it more important to have a mouthful of some nutritious food that requires that we chew strongly on it for several chews to soften it a superior jaw workout than the ‘crack’ of chomping a raw carrot.
3. Stopping gum recession with nutrition
We all know that nutrition is a major (perhaps most important) component of navigating the path to optimal oral health.
And, we are sure we’re all clear that it’s ideally better for us to get our nutrition from real foods than from supplements. Bottom line, we can’t make it any better than God. To presume that we can take a real food and break it down into what we humans see are the parts and take those for optimal health is folly.
That said, there is merit in knowing the actions and functions that many nutrients play in this process.
Here are a few pieces to the puzzle along the path to maintaining healthy, strong bones (and teeth).
It goes without saying that calcium and phosphorus are important macronutrients for maintaining healthy jaw bones. However, research clearly shows that there are many other factors involved, including:
Vitamin D‚ which is responsible for absorbing calcium from the digestive tract. Without vitamin D‚ the calcium that you get from foods or supplements can’t be used by your body.
Vitamin K2 transports the calcium in your body to the bones that need it. Some studies have suggested that large amounts of vitamin K2 may increase bone density in people with osteoporosis.
Vitamin C promotes the production of the collagen and osteoblasts responsible for forming new bone material.
Magnesium helps transport calcium to the bones in addition to assisting in the absorption process.
Zinc manages the secretion of a hormone called calcitonin‚ which regulates calcium levels in cells and is also important for bone development.
Boron works like vitamin D‚ because it improves your body’s absorption of calcium and magnesium.
Strontium is used to improve your bone density‚ which is critical to overall bone health.
An important baseline to grasp is that in general, we all are nutrient deficient.
Yes, even if you are eating what you consider a really, really good diet. The fact remains that the earth’s soils have been so damaged over the past 75 years from treating a biological medium (soil) like it’s only a chemical medium and the resulting use of petroleum-based fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and the most recent insult, GMOs.
Unless you raise a very large percentage of your foods on something as idyllic as a farm that’s been biodynamic for 50 years, you’re probably dealing with some level of deficiency.
Of particular concern to us is the loss of trace minerals from the soil modern commercial farming practices have created. If you take another look at the above short list of necessary nutrients, you won’t hear about many farmers feeding their soils with boron for example (although some farmers are extremely aware of this and doing great work to restore lost micro minerals from the soils).
So, we’re all deficient to one extent or another. If you’d like to take a deeper dive into specific examples of what foods to eat to increase your intake of these supportive nutrients, here’s a link to a previous article, “What TO Eat to Support Greater Oral Health” or check out our free video tutorial series, the 5 Steps to a Healthy Mouth.
However, knowing what foods to eat is only half the battle. We also must understand what foods undermine our oral health.
4. Foods to Avoid to Optimize Bone Health
At least equally important as getting as much nutrition into our diets as possible is knowing what foods disrupt or diminish our uptake of the nutrition necessary to optimize our bone health. Now, this subject is big enough to be a book by itself, so we really can’t do this important subject justice in this article. However, let’s touch on some good starting points. Also, here’s another article if you’d like to take a closer look at what foods to avoid to navigate to optimal oral health.
A commonly demonized ‘anti-nutrient’ is phytic acid, found in high concentrations in grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. Phytic acid (also called phytate) inhibits the absorption of several minerals including iron and zinc.
That means, even if you are eating enough specific minerals, your body may not be getting used of all the nutrition. The old saying ‘You are what you eat’ isn’t quite accurate. We find ‘You are what you assimilate from what you eat’ a more physiologically accurate statement.
There’s plenty of resources on the net that will detail how to lower the phytic acid in these above foods. Most of the strategies are to 1. either avoid eating them or 2. special preparation techniques like soaking and sprouting which deactivate the phytic acids present in these foods.
Honorable mention must go to sugar (in all forms).
Not only does sugar disrupt the balance of our blood chemistry which directly undermines our body’s ability to optimally express our genetic ability, sugar also suppresses our hunger for real food and so can cause us to miss the opportunity to nourish our health with foods that actually give us the nutrition necessary to thrive.
I can hear your sugar bugs screaming at this point… “But our brains run on glucose. Don’t we need to eat at least some sugar?”
No. In fact, experts argue that the body functions metabolically much ‘cleaner’ and more efficiently using fats for energy rather than sugar. Sorry sugar bugs, we don’t need to eat any sugar.
We hope that this information on how to stop receding gums and remineralize your jaw bones helps you along your path to optimal oral health.
Would you like us to dive more deeply into any of these subjects here on our blog? Please let us know in the comments below what points you’d like us to go into more detail in future articles.
Helpful, Related Resources:
What Causes Receding Gums and How to Stop it [article]
How to Brush Your Teeth to Reduce Gum Disease [article]
4 Reasons Why Brushing Is So Important [article]
What is Conscious Flossing? [article]
What’s the Best Order to Brush, Floss and Swish? [article]
What Causes Tooth Decay (and how to stop it)? [article]
What TO Eat to Support Greater Oral Health [article]
What Foods Undermine Our Oral Health and Why? [article]
How to Stop and Reverse Gum Disease with Diet and Nutrition [expert interview]
5 Steps to a Healthy Mouth [free video tutorial series
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Mitch WE. Metabolic and clinical consequences of metabolic acidosis. J Nephrol 2006 Mar-Apr; 19 Suppl9:S70-5.
Lips P. Calcium and vitamin D in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis – a clinical update. J Intern Med 2006 Jun;259(6):539-52.
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