The Dental Diet: The Surprising Link between Your Teeth, Real Food, and Life-Changing Natural Health
By Dr. Steven Lin
Hay House, Inc.
Teeth are a strange thing in the modern world. We drill them, fill them and sometimes remove them. Dr. Steven Lin has a great deal to say about what amounts to a form of standardized, culturally accepted insanity when it comes to our teeth.
Lin outlines his general views by putting wisdom teeth extraction in a different perspective (on page 32): “Imagine that 10 million Americans really did have to have their defective pinkie toes—or earlobes—amputated every year. At some point, we’d start asking ourselves if there was anything we could do to prevent our toes and ears from needing amputation in the first place. But when it comes to our wisdom teeth, we’ve simply never even had this conversation…and while it’s true that we can live basically healthy lives without our wisdom teeth themselves, these molars in the back of our mouth are a warning sign that something is going very wrong with our faces and bodies.”
Lin is a dentist who understands that the teeth tell a story, a story that includes all the organs of the body. He points out that we need to pay attention not just to our wisdom teeth but also to how our teeth relate to and reflect our health overall. In other words, our mouths are a window and mirror into our general health. Moreover, one of the main culprits in dental problems—a deficiency of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K—is also a leading culprit in other health issues. Noting that “bacterial imbalances that begin in our mouth during tooth decay echo throughout our entire digestive system and body,” Lin hopes to convince readers that real food is the only and right solution.
I loved many parts of this book, and particularly Lin’s mixing of historical observations (from the likes of Dr. Weston A. Price and others) with his own personal experience as a practicing dentist, supplemented by wide swaths of research. Like Dr. Price before him, Lin knows that these three elements—dietary wisdom and history, dental practice and modern research—point to one unavoidable truth: “The health of our jaw, facial structure and airways starts with what we eat.” Lin quotes Weston Price a number of times, which serves as a reminder that all dentists who are good and real walk in Dr. Price’s footsteps, whether they realize it or not, and benefit from Price’s work.
In Chapter Five, where Lin discusses vitamins, he gives both Sally Fallon Morell and Chris Masterjohn the credit they deserve for keeping Weston Price’s work alive and continuing the hunt for the elusive “Activator X” (vitamin K) that is so crucial not just to dental health but all health. In Chapter Six, titled “It’s not Genetic,” our dear friend Francis Pottenger and his cats even show up. It is here that Lin also goes to some length to discuss how malocclusions (teeth not fitting) are not some random lottery for which some of us get good tickets and others get bad ones. Rather, these problems are the result of our diet.
Lin says quite a lot about diet, all of it good. For example, he points out the superiority of grass-fed animals and the importance of fermented foods (multiple times), provides basics on how to properly prepare grains and emphasizes the need to build a diet around nutrient-dense, vitamin-rich foods. Lin also notes the superior benefits of traditional stocks and broths when compared to their modern mass-produced counterparts. Likewise, he includes ample warnings against refined foods of all sorts: white flours and sugars, processed vegetable oils, processed dairy foods and industrially farmed and raised foods.
In Chapter Eight, as Lin continues to discuss food, he deals with fat and cholesterol phobia (a phenomenon that Dr. Price never encountered in traditional societies) and explains how this phobia is helping to create rather than prevent disease. Full-fat cheeses, eggs, organ meats and fatty cuts of meat are crucial to dental health and proper dental development, whereas a lowfat, high-sugar diet will lead not just to dental problems, but also to degenerative diseases like diabetes.
In Chapter Nine, Lin tells readers what he wants them to do to improve their health. He includes exercises for healthy chewing, healthy breathing and healthy eating. The numerous suggested exercises to improve breathing and thus benefit overall health and body structure are a nice addition and something that authors of other similar works rarely mention.
Lin again directly touches on the need for vitamins A, D and K. In addition, he provides lots of solid dietary advice and practical tips that stem from his basic underlying premise of jettisoning refined foods and learning to properly source and prepare traditional foods. Lin also offers an alternative food pyramid that puts the USDA version to shame, while giving people a visual depiction of what a healthful diet can look like in the modern world. The final section of the book includes solid instructions on how to prepare a host of traditional foods (including stocks, sauerkraut, kefir and kombucha), along with other recipes and practical information.
The Dental Diet is an easy, accessible read, one that we hope will make headway in continuing to attract new people to the work of Weston Price and raise awareness about the importance of properly grown and prepared real foods, not just for dental health, but for all health. Two thumbs UP.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Spring 2018.