About 2.5 weeks ago, I started to experience some sensitivity to temperature in my teeth on the left side, both top and bottom. As time progressed, it got pretty bad to the point where I couldn’t even take a drink of cold water or hot coffee or else it would fire up uncomfortably. Having experienced this before (although not as bad), I was beginning to resign myself to call my dentist, which would likely lead to lots of drilling and root canals.
But then I thought further. What had changed in the last few weeks or months that might lead to such a condition? My teeth had been pretty quiet for years. With my current eating patterns, my health has been very good.
Then I thought to something I had been doing, which was something I had picked up in a Bulletproof podcast with Dr. Mercola on the dangers of EMF. In this podcast, Dr. Mercola had talked about supplementing with magnesium and at quantities up to 2000mg per day, to protect against the effects of EMF. Having done some research into the dangers of EMF, I was interested in ways to mitigate EMF exposure so decided I would give it a try. I started ramping my magnesium intake from 400mg to 800mg and then to 1000mg per day.
I thought – could it be the magnesium intake that caused my teeth problems? Googling “magnesium tooth ache” I found this post, If You Are Aching And Teeth Hurting, May Be Too Much Magnesium, on Ray Peat’s forums. This gave me some more information about balance between calcium and magnesium, and the fact that too much magnesium may actually cause calcium to leach out of bones!
This then led me to query my functional medicine doctor about this issue (coincidentally I had an appointment on the day after I found this post) who then pointed me to an interesting book by Ramiel Nagel called Cure Tooth Decay: Heal And Prevent Cavities With Nutrition.
This book gave me some really interesting information on using nutritional modifications to combat teeth problems, and potentially even gain immunity to decay and cavities. I also realized that while I have a pretty negative opinion on how the current medical system works, I had not lumped dentistry into that group. But now, I looked back at my dental history, which was filled with instances of basically dentists drilling and removing problematic parts of my teeth, putting crowns in, and root canals to deaden pain sensation. How much more of my original teeth would they remove if more problems ensued? Is that the only way to solve dental problems? I was very interested in the protocols from Nagel’s book and really they weren’t all that complex.
After talking to my functional medicine doctor, I immediately dropped my magnesium back to 400 mg/day. I read the book in a day, and then started taking 2 tsp of cod liver oil the next day which would raise my vitamin D and A intake. I was already taking vitamin K2 (as MK-7).
After two days, I got some minor improvement, barely perceptible in my teeth’s sensitivity. I then thought about calcium. I looked up some calcium sources in Chris Kresser’s post, How To Keep Your Bones Healthy On A Paleo Diet. I then was concerned that while I was eating many foods on the list, the bioavailability of calcium in those sources could be limited. So then I went back to some kind of dairy which is super high in calcium. Instead of cow’s milk, I bought some Redwood Hill Farms plain goat milk kefir and yogurt as my primary calcium sources.
Within a day of chugging down a large glass of kefir, plus one small container of yogurt, my teeth’s sensitivity was down a large amount! This was very encouraging. However, it seemed to slow down its progress in improvement, so about 3 days later I added one more tsp of cod liver oil to see if I could accelerate healing.
Now about 1 week after I started these protocols, my teeth are nearly back to normal. I can drink hot or cold drinks no problem, and gargling with cold water doesn’t bother me at all except for a slight tingle which I’m hoping will disappear completely in a few days.
What have I learned from this experience?
1. Be very careful of advice you get from the internet even from someone you respect. Ramping magnesium on the advice of Dr. Mercola was a dangerous thing in its negative effects on calcium in my body.
2. The dental community is unfortunately just like the medical community. It is all about symptom management and solutions after the fact. There is no talk about prevention.
3. The body seeks balance. There is an optimal mix of nutrients in the body and its smart enough to know that balance must be maintained. This is why supplementing can be dangerous. Most supplements that are manufactured are usually of one compound in isolation. When we find these compounds in nature, they are in the presence of other complementary compounds which nature on Earth has determined to be good and in balance for proper functioning. Taking supplements without respecting this balance will upset it, sometimes with bad consequences like the de-mineralization of my teeth!
The unfortunate aspect of all this is that due to over farming of our lands, and other industrial farming techniques (like feeding our livestock manufactured feed versus eating plants and bugs and other normal things they would eat) has affected the nutrient balance of typical plants and animals we eat.
Supplementing artificially to get balance with missing nutrients is great, but overdoing it is still possible. We also don’t have really good protocols or tests for knowing exactly how much somebody needs and at what time.
4. The body is still the most amazing machine ever built. Modern medical theory suggests that deterioration is inevitable, but this little experience continually reinforces to me that deterioration need not happen, and that you can actually reverse the deterioration if you do the right thing.