Natural Hygiene is a term which designates a rather radical healing and health maintenance system (popularized through the bestselling "Fit for Life" books penned by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond).

Its proponents, similar to naturopathic schools of thought, maintain that the body is inherently healthy and self-healing and always strives to maintain or re-establish optimal healthful conditions if properly supported in doing so. For more details, see my introduction to Natural Hygiene.

As can be seen from the following quotes, both famous proponents of the Natural Hygiene movement (such as Dr. Herbert Shelton and Dr. Virginia Vetrano) and others such as dentistry "mavericks" and "renegades" Dr. Robert O. Nara and Dr. George W. Heard believe in and have witnessed the capacity of teeth and gums to heal themselves in certain cases and/or under certain conditions (and more recently, mainstream researchers have begun various projects aiming at helping cavities to refill naturally, teeth to remineralize, and even regrow from scratch).

Clearly, dental decay is frequently a reversible process, similar to the daily "building up" and "tearing down" of parts of the tooth enamel (see Demineralisation-Remineralisation).

Personally I believe — and my experience has shown me — that even seriously damaged teeth can respond to good "treatment" (food, cleaning etc. — NOT dental treatment) and may be regenerated to various degrees — at least to the point where they can be near-normally used for a number of years[1] (although teeth the root of which has been damaged particularly by dental toxins and treatments[2] seem likely to crumble eventually — after all, a dead root without a functioning blood and lymph supply is unable to nourish the tooth so the eroding action of daily chewing alone will eventually grind the tooth or what remains of it down).

For some dramatic first-person accounts and real-life stories regarding tooth and gum self-healing incl. tooth regrowth in adults, see Personal Experiences & Testimonials and Spirituality.

Tooth rejuvenation/remineralization

Today, reversal of caries and repair of tooth structure is possible. Remineralization of enamel, the outer portion of the tooth, is an accepted phenomenon.
Prof. Sally Marshall, researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, Department of Preventive and Restorative Dental Sciences

Necessity of full mineral and trace element spectrum

It takes all the elements to build sound bodies. A lot of minerals besides phosphorus, calcium and magnesium go into the making of sound teeth. Only a dash of iodine, boron, fluorine or copper may be required, but unless that dash is supplied, the building process is impaired and the foundation laid for tooth decay.
Dr. George W. Heard in his book Man versus Toothache

Nutrition, immune system, oral pathogens, tooth decay and gum problems

The autoimmune system is the body's first and best defense against the big bad world out there. That includes chemical toxins, cancers, oral pathogens, etc. This is why someone with a good immune system may have a better set of teeth and gums while maintaing a poorer hygiene regimen than someone who goes through all the hygiene motions dilligently day after day and still has problems due to dental caries or periodontal disease. Am I saying that nutrition is all we need to be concerned about? No. It is an important 'factor'.
Dr. Robert O. Nara, D.D.S.

Food rests, oral pathogens (bacteria) and acid waste products and their consequences average person has around 500 species of bugs in the mouth and 50-75 of them aren't the kind you want in there. You understand that they exist on a 'biofilm' in different areas of the mouth — normally the areas that are conducive to their survival, the dark anaerobic areas you keep missing with your brush, areas you can't reach, areas you don't floss...

Well, somehow all that food and sugar drink gets to them just fine and they thrive, they produce acid waste as a by-product, rot the area and get on with life. That's their job to survive!

It's your job to counter their survival or suffer the consequences; bad teeth, loose teeth, a mouth full of amalgam or other composites, sore, bleeding gums, foul breath, unbearable pain, lousy fitting caps, bridges, sore, sutured gums, yanked teeth and no teeth. Sorry, it wasn't hereditary, but it IS easy to blame something else for our ignorance.
Dr. Robert O. Nara, D.D.S.

Bacteria and tooth decay

Those bugs, the Lactobacillus acidophilus, that the dental scientists charge with causing a tooth to decay, are found in everybody's mouths; but, when food is correct the tissues are immuned. ... Why is it, then, that the rate of tooth decay varies from zero (as in certain Deaf Smith County families) to above 95 per cent?

Not the bacteria count in the patient's mouth, but the food he has lived upon makes the difference. The mouth must be correct when the food is correct. When the mouth is correct, the bacteria do no damage.
Dr. George W. Heard in his book Man versus Toothache

Warning by Healing Teeth Naturally: If your teeth are seriously damaged, don't take this to mean that all you have to do is increase the mineral content of your diet and avoid damaging foods while you can blithely neglect cleansing your teeth and mouth. In seriously damaged teeth, my experience has shown that the bacterial invasion has to be dealt with forcefully to help save teeth.

Fasting and dental/gum improvements, healing cavities and toothache

...repeated tests and experiments in the laboratory have shown that the bones and teeth are uninjured by prolonged fasting.

I have conducted thousands of fasts and I have never seen any injury accrue to the teeth therefrom. No one makes a trip to the dentist after a fast who would not have gone there had the fast not been taken. Mr. Pearson records that at the end of his fast, 'teeth with black cavities became white and clear, all decay seemed to be arrested by the fast, and there was no more tooth-ache.'

The only effects upon the teeth which I have observed to occur during a fast are improvements. I have seen teeth that were loose in their sockets become firmly fixed while fasting. I have seen diseased gums heal up while fasting.

But I have never, at any time, observed any injurious effects upon the teeth during or after a fast, regardless of the age of the faster and the duration of the fast. This applies only to good teeth. Fasting does sometimes cause fillings to become loose.

Although I have always regarded the loosening of fillings in teeth as due to the extraction of the salts of the bad teeth, some of my students have brought up the question: Is the loss of the filling due to an effort of Nature to dislodge a foreign body preparatory to healing the tooth? This question is worthy of study.[4]
Dr. Herbert Shelton in The Hygienic System, Fasting and Sunbathing

Cavities glazing over thanks to mineral-rich diet

Food therapy is still an infant branch of the healing art. I say that it deserves more attention from both the medical profession and the public than it has received up to now. Food therapy, indeed, promises a new era for healing and when that comes, great credit will be due pioneers in the field, like Dr. Price.

That practitioner demonstrated how dentistry could use food therapy to prevent, and also to help repair, tooth decay. During my 30 year study of dental conditions in Deaf Smith County, I found evidence a plenty to that effect. Note what Dr. Edward Taylor says in his report:

'People moving here (into Deaf Smith County with the usual number of cavities . . . ceased to develop further cavities . . . and in teeth brought there five years previously . . . the cavities had acquired hard-glazed surfaces." All decay did not glaze over because the foods grown here were not consistently used. What forces had stopped those teeth from decaying further and started to repair the damage already done?

... Both decayed teeth and ailing tissue will heal when the cause of the trouble is removed. That cause is malnutrition . . . the lack of properly balanced diet.
Dr. George W. Heard in Man versus Toothache

Fasting and dental healing

Disease of the gums and periodontal tissues heal, while fasting, and teeth become firmer in their sockets...Abscesses will often absorb while fasting, but it will usually take a lengthy fast.[4]
Dr. Virginia V. Vetrano

Teeth regrowing & raw food

In my practice, I have noted some splendid instances of broken teeth growing back to their full length without other aid than natural food. However, I find that this is not generally believed. It may be necessary for grownups to live for many years in Nature's way, before they will be able to accomplish this feat. Their bloodstream must be made vital.

On the other hand, I know of men as old as seventy-five years who have grown another set of teeth.
John H. Richter, raw foodist, early 20th century, in "Nature the Healer", p. 385

Tooth enamel and cavity healing

The teeth are bones. Bones do heal and regenerate under favorable conditions. Even the enamel of the teeth, it seems is able to repair itself, as I have been able to demonstrate on a broken tooth of my own. Self-restoration of teeth with cavities in them have been reported by dentists within the last few years.
Rene Beresford

Fasting and enamel restoration

Under ideal conditions...(teeth) can be healed. Caries (cavities) can probably be filled physiologically; we just never give them a chance. As soon as a [carious lesion] is discovered, it is filled with gold, silver or porcelain.

Nature certainly can't fight against that, although she tries to at times and casts our fillings. I have seen one case where the enamel was badly eroded off all the front teeth. that was apparently replaced while fasting.
Dr. Virginia V. Vetrano

Pyorrhea [severe periodontitis] healed by fasting

In pyorrhea we see inflammation and ulceration of the gums, pus formation, loosening of the teeth, necrosis of the jaw, and even falling out of the teeth. In numerous cases of pyorrhea that we have cared for, the gum inflammation has subsided, the ulcers have healed, pus formation has ceased and the loosened teeth have become firmly fixed in their sockets, and all of this has occurred while the patient was fasting.
Dr. Herbert Shelton in The Hygienic System, Fasting and Sunbathing

Early caries reversible

Teeth can heal themselves...Early caries (cavities) can be medically reversed; the body's natural self-regenerating ability can restore degraded enamel to perfect health!
Dr. Robert O. Nara, D.D.S.

Enamel recoating and remineralization

There is nothing sacred about the original enamel surface...within certain limits, the enamel is capable of fairly rapid organic recoating and remineralization, when favorably exposed to salivary contacts.
Dr. Sogannes, D.D.S.

The extent of remineralization depends on the location of the cavity. If the cavity is in an area where the saliva has access to it — and if you have sufficient saliva — that cavity can be hardened. The cavity won't progress any further.

If the person decides he or she wants it filled for aesthetic reasons, you can just touch it up a bit. The drilling is much simpler, then.
Erling Johansen, D.M.D., Ph.D., dental researcher (University of Rochester)

On a tooth's healing capacity

It ranges from some little pinpoint cavities here and there all the way to a tooth that's rotted right off at the gumline, you're not going to grow a whole new crown on it. The little ones will heal, remineralize up to about two millimeters deep.

What will happen in a tooth that is severely decayed is that the stump will firm up. Instead of being soft and mushy, it develops a leathery consistency. A healed tooth will remain resistant to decay as long as the oral conditions are beneficial.
Dr. Robert O. Nara, D.D.S.

Brushing teeth with salt and/or baking soda prevents periodontal disease

Over the years when I was lecturing, I asked thousands of dentists and hygienists to raise their hands if they had ever seen destructive periodontal disease in person[s] who had regularly brushed with salt and/or [baking] soda. I have never seen a hand! And although I have not seen many such cases, the periodontal health in these patients has always been excellent.
Dr. Paul H. Keyes D.D.S., B.A., M.S., founder of the International Dental Health Foundation, on the benefits of salt and baking soda

On toothbrushing and cleaning

You have to keep after your teeth. ... You have to keep at it every day. The main thing is to keep the bacteria from growing on the teeth. And that's done by brushing. You should brush your teeth at least after breakfast and after supper. You should brush right after you eat, too, and you should floss your teeth once a day.
Dr. Johansen

You can't allow the bacteria to become attached to the teeth. You have to keep them what we call 'free floating.' That's done by using a brush to clean your teeth. It's a matter of oral cleanliness. You're not going to find healing in a mouth that's laden with plaque. Plaque is a combination of food particles and bacteria.

If it's on the teeth too long, calcium precipitates out of the saliva and it gets hard. You can remove plaque from your teeth before it calcifies by simply brushing.
Dr. Robert O. Nara, D.D.S.

You have to use the right kind of brush. A lot of people are brushing with a cheap brush. You can go to the drugstore and pick up a brush for 25 cents. A cheapie. A good brush these days is going to cost you at least a dollar. The reason a lot of people are not cleaning their teeth better is that they're using an inferior instrument. We start off by giving them a fairly soft brush, with rounded tips.

If you brush your teeth and you feel a tingling afterwards on the gums, that doesn't mean that you've gotten them extra clean. It means you may have damaged some cells. When you wash your arm, it doesn't tingle afterwards, does it? This is the sort of common sense thing that people don't think about.

If you start to floss, you should do it correctly. Use unwaxed floss so the floss will spread out. Use the floss like a shoeshine rag across the teeth. Flossing and brushing should control plaque.
Dr. Joel Knapp D.D.S.

On calcium requirements

A person has to have sufficient calcium in his system so that the saliva contains a fair amount of calcium. A person who is on an extremely low-calcium diet would not get any remineralization, and the saliva would not be such as to prevent decay.
Dr. Robert O. Nara, D.D.S.

On sugarless gum not being devoid of tooth-decaying sugar

Sugarless gum isn't sugarless. It' is sucroseless. If you look at the label, you will see that it says, on most of them, 60 percent carbohydrates. That can be just as bad as sugar. The bacteria that cause decay can survive and multiply on those carbohydrates.
Dr. Johansen

On the importance of living teeth

... a living tooth can preserve the health of the surrounding tissues much better than artificial prosthesis. Teeth are living, and they are able to respond to a person's bite. They move and in doing so they maintain the health of the surrounding gums and teeth."
Prof. Paul Sharpe, genetic research scientist and head of division of Craniofacial Biology and Biomaterials at the Dental Institute at King's College, London (UK)

Dentists don't cure anything

Dentists train to treat symptoms. Some specialize and treat periodontal or endodontic problems — but nobody cures your bad teeth. All of the measures taken by dentists simply REPAIR damage done by decay.

There are not many, if you can find them, who will sit down with you after an exam and tell you how to go home, change your diet, spend more time on your teeth, gums, irrigate to help shrink a periodontal pocket and so on. The hygienist is more prone to give you that talk, but they are so busy cramming patients in that they hardly have time.

The bottom line is that you have to take a good look at the profession and their motives — and you have to take a serious look at your own hygiene practices and decide that you will have to take responsibility for your OWN oral health (which ultimately affects your overall health), and stop putting it on the profession or your dental insurance plan to do it for you — because they won't.
Dr. Robert O. Nara, D.D.S.

On dental cavitation infections

This type of infection has been frequently reported in the literature since 1915 by respected authors such as GV Black and later by Weston Price, but has yet to gain acceptance in the wider dental community.

If it was accepted it would lead to major changes to the usual practice of dentistry, so even though it is 100% proven to be true, the existence of cavitation infections is ignored by the mainstream profession.
Dentist Dr. Graeme Munro-Hall in "Toxic Dentistry Exposed"

On tooth extractions

It is an unfortunate fact that most adult extractions end up as cavitation infections to some degree. Some sources estimate as much as 90% of adult extractions end up in this way."
Dentist Dr. Graeme Munro-Hall in "Toxic Dentistry Exposed"

On water fluoridation

Fluoride has become religious dogma to the dental profession. Water fluoridation has become accepted in large parts of the English-speaking world and it is acknowledged dental policy all over the world that water fluoridation is a good thing despite the evidence against it.

Well, it is good for dentists, as dentists who work in fluoridated areas earn more than dentists who work in non-fluoridated areas. Work that one out!

In Europe, a more pragmatic approach to water fluoridation has been taken. In areas where it has been tried, it was found to be ineffective and withdrawn, for example Basel in Switzerland.

The politicians of the European mainland are also mindful of being accused of forcing mass medication on the populace, the atrocities of the Second World War being still fresh in their memory; for mass medication is what adding fluoride to water is."
Dentist Dr. Graeme Munro-Hall in "Toxic Dentistry Exposed"

On successful dental detoxification treatment (Drs. Munro-Hall's V-Tox treatment)

The variety of symptoms displayed, the age and sex of the patients is vast but the common thread that connects them all is that the V-Tox treatment worked for them. Nutritionally prepare the patients, remove metals from their teeth and jaws, remove root-filled and infected teeth and clean out infections in the bone, get the bite right, and use high-dose intravenous infusions of vitamin C with glutathione etc.

Do these things in the correct order and in a thorough and correct manner, and the results can be amazing. ... this approach does not always work, but it works in so many cases where all else has failed, that it deserves to be tried.

No placebo effect
Patients come with a multitude of symptoms and diagnoses. They are varied in age, gender, temperament, nutritional status and belief systems. The one thing that links them all is their toxic load and the fortunate fact that removing the toxic load correctly restored their health. The results cannot be placebo because their symptoms are permanently reduced or vanished. With placebo treatment the symptoms would return in time."
Dentist Dr. Graeme Munro-Hall in "Toxic Dentistry Exposed"


One would be more justified in stating that the principal cause of dental decay are the dentists, and even prove it — because wherever there are many dentists, the dental health status of the population is significantly worse than where there are few dentists or none at all."
Dentist Dr. Johann Georg Schnitzer speaking on a dentists' congress in Berlin, Germany

The dental establishment is scared to death that the public is going to realize that the entire profession has been making a living by repairing the results of a disease they could have been curing all along!"
Dr. Robert O. Nara, D.D.S.

Someday, hopefully soon, the dental profession will become extinct... it will happen as soon as the public learns about the cause and cure of cavities and gum problems. No one I've ever known in over 30 years has not wanted to solve their own problems... once they know how."
Dr. Robert O. Nara, D.D.S.

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1 More at Suggestions what to do when you can't or don't want to see a dentist.

2 See Drilling & filling teeth: an unwise choice? and the entire Conventional section.

3 More info on the teeth's self-regenerating ability at Tooth remineralisation and pH.

4 More at On the effects of fasting on teeth and gums (Dr. Herbert Shelton book extract).

Dental self-healing