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How I Almost Lost My Teeth on Raw Foods

I’m about to tell you the incredible story of how I almost lost my teeth on the raw food diet, and what I did to completely reverse the situation and never get another cavity again.

I’ve told parts of the story before, but never did I tell it all in one place.

The most important part of the story is where I will tell you what I did to solve my issues, and the unfortunate fact that many raw foodists and health enthusiasts still refuse to believe that their diet is not more likely to cause dental problems than other diets.

In the summer of 1996, I discovered the raw food diet and started a lifelong passion for natural health. I was 20 years old, and I had just discovered Natural Hygiene through the writings of a relatively unknown author, Albert Mosséri.

This led me to passionately pursue this path and study everything I could on the topic. By the summer of 1997, I had decided to go 100% raw.

And I stayed 100% — without any cheating — for over 3 and 1/2 years.

I was a committed raw foodist. I wanted to make it work. And I even travelled all the way from Montreal, Canada, to San Diego, California, to live this lifestyle and learn everything I could learn about it.

When I first studied Natural Hygiene, I read many books by Dr. Herbert Shelton, one of the most influential writers in this movements. In one of his classic books, he claimed that tooth brushes were doing more harm than good.

After all, aggressive brushing can damage the enamel, and animals in nature have great teeth without using toothbrushes.

Shelton believed that as long as one ate natural foods — like apples and lettuce, teeth would naturally get cleaned and it was not necessary to use a toothbrush.

I thought his reasoning made sense and went along with his philosophy.

But I did not completely stop brushing my teeth. What I did is simply very often neglect to brush my teeth, thinking that chewing an apple was enough to “naturally clean the teeth.”

During my first few years raw, I also ate a lot of food. Initially, I was a simple raw foodist, eating an 80-10-10 diet (without knowing it) of just fruits and vegetables and limited fat.Then in California, I discovered raw cuisine and started eating delicious raw cakes, dips and other recipes. I also ate plenty of dates and amazing tropical fruits, like cherimoyas and durian.

After about two years on the diet, I started experiencing pain in my teeth. But I procrastinated and neglected going to the dentist.

Then another year passed and I finally did.

That’s when I got some shocking news.

I had 19 cavities!

It cost me a lot of pain and money to fix all of these cavities, and at that point I of course realized that Shelton’s advice was horribly wrong, so I started to brush my teeth religiously.

Initially, all of these dental problems made me go off the diet, and I started eating cooked food again.

But it didn’t take too long before I felt inspired to go back on the 100% raw food diet.

Two years then past, and one of my fillings broke. I was eating a grape, and the seed in the grape broke a filling in my mouth. So I reluctantly went back to the dentist, hoping that I wouldn’t have more cavities.

In the past two years, I had been very careful.

After each meal, I would brush my teeth or at the very least swirl water in my mouth to neutralize the acids in fruits.

I thought I was doing pretty good.

But then my dentist had pretty bad news for me again.

I had over 20 NEW cavities!

I was floored.

I almost couldn’t breathe.

I couldn’t believe this was happening to me again.

The cavities were not as deep as the first time, and fortunately nothing required major intervention like root canals. But it was so disheartening to see that all of my efforts over the last few years had been in vain.

Something was terribly wrong!

I had to go back to the dentist four times to get all of my teeth fixed. It was a lot of pain, a huge expense, and just very traumatizing.

At that point, I realized that this was somehow linked to my diet.

So I decided I could not be a raw foodist anymore. I changed my diet completely.

I stopped eating fruit meals twice a day, and instead ate some fruit along with yogurt in the morning.

I had vegetable stir fries and rice for launch.

For dinner, I started to eat animal protein along with vegetables and maybe potatoes. I initially started with eggs, and then ate fish, chicken and red meat.

I did not like this new diet as much as the fruit-based one I was following before. I had less energy, and I felt huge guilt about eating animal products and foods I had initially thought were really bad for health. But I felt I had no choice. If I stayed on the raw food diet, I would probably lose my teeth.

At the time, I started using Toothsoap instead of regular toothpaste, but I did also use a fluoride toothpaste several times a week.

And of course, the main change in my diet was that I stopped being a raw foodist and stopped eating a lot of fruit.

About nine months later, I noticed some brown spots on the base of some of my teeth. They looked like cavities.

I was flabbergasted! Not again!

So I went back to my dentist to get this checked immediately.

Then he told me that I had absolutely no cavities and that in fact, everything was looking great.

“What about the brown spots I asked.”

He said “Those look like what happens what a tooth re-enamelize. It looks like a cavity started to form, but then you did something to stop it so the tooth had a chance to heal. That can only happen when the cavity is very young.”

At that point I had the proof I needed.


I had indeed solved my dental decay in its tracks.

However, was it the toothsoap? Was it my use of the fluoride toothpaste? Was it my change of diet?

I felt it was a combination of all these things.

I was happy to have solved my dental problems, but I did not solve my diet problems.

I just wasn’t thriving eating all of this fat and animal products.

But at the same time, I did not want to go back on the raw food diet and risk losing my teeth.

That take us to around 2005, when I met Dr. Doug Graham and went fasting in Costa Rica. When I came back, I decided to eat an 80-10-10 diet and avoid most sources of fat, focusing my diet on fruit and greens.

I was looking forward to see what would happen to my teeth on that diet.

I kept the rest of my dental hygiene routine the same.

After about a year, I went to the dentist, and I had two cavities.

So I had done a lot better, but I had not solved my issues entirely. And I also had the proof that as far as I was concerned, eating a fruit-based diet was causing more decay.

That’s about when I discovered an incredible book called Money By The Mouthful, by Dr. Nara. I eventually acquired the rights to publish this book directly from the publisher, and this book is included in the package “How to Heal and Prevent Dental Disasters,” which is on sale right now for a limited time at:

The book was a revelation.

It made me understand exactly what had gone wrong and why I was having these problems.

After I followed the advice in the book, I never had another cavity EVER again. And yet, I kept eating a lot of fruit.

You’ll get a much better idea once you read the book, but here’s the basic concepts that I discovered:

1) Dental decay is a disease. It has to do essentially with an “infestation” of a certain type of bacteria in the mouth. When these bacteria are allowed to proliferate, the organize into “colonies” and it becomes extremely difficult to eradicate them if you follow standard dental hygiene protocols.

2) The terrain is everything. The reason I had another 20 cavities just two years after I got 19 cavities, even though I brushed my teeth and was careful, was because I had created such a bad “environment” in my mouth were bacteria were having a party. My little brushing was not enough to eradicate them.

3) Bacteria feed on sugar, which is why the raw food diet is more cariogenic. “Cariogenic” is term used by dentists to describe a diet or condition that causes more dental decay. It’s a simple equation: more sugar = more chance for the bacteria to feed and cause cavities. The type of sugar (white of fruit) doesn’t matter. They will feed on anything.

4) The raw food diet is also more cariogenic because people tend to eat more often. More sugar exposure = more cavities.

5) You have to eradicate the bacteria. The only way to reverse the situation is to create an oral environment where bacteria are in a sort of free-flowing state, not able to accumulate and form plaque. Traditional hygiene routines like brushing your teeth twice a day is not enough to reverse the situation.

It would actually take a while to describe the process.

That’s why I recommend to everyone concerned about their dental health to apply the information in the book “Money by the Mouthful” available at:

The sale is on for a few more days. After that, the price will be raised.

Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets.