Can you heal toddler tooth decay naturally? Yes!

Yes. We did it in eight months. Here’s how!

Update 4/2014: My 22 month old daughter had significant tooth decay on her upper front teeth, likely caused by food and milk being trapped by the undiagnosed lip tie she had.

The top four teeth lost the enamel and much of the dentin on the back surface. The front surface was rough and stained. The dentist said if we had waited much longer, the nerve likely would have been affected. They are now fine, and she is almost 3.5 years old.

What we did:

  • We had her lip and tongue ties fixed with a laser eight months ago and I still night nursed up until recently.
  • We did three treatments with ozone. (The teeth started hardening by the second treatment.)
  • I did my best to keep her on a diet where she ate only whole foods. We tried a paleo / primal diet but it never stuck. (I do not recommend a paleo diet. ) She ate more meat and cheese these past few months, but she also ate whole grains and bread (more on that below). Our diet was by no means perfect. We certainly had a few days where I’d be embarrassed to admit what she ate. (As in processed food, cookies, juice, etc.)
  • Every night we brushed her teeth with either a little flouride toothpaste or just some xylitol on a brush, then coated the affected teeth with MI Paste we bought from the dentist.
  • We gave her granulated xylitol often after meals.
  • I got her to take some cod liver oil about 6 times in the past two weeks, so I’m not sure if that contributed.

Eight months later, I got the news back that all four teeth had hardened – the cavities are gone. Her teeth are thin now, so they may chip a bit more in the front. They also have staining in the front, but the decay isn’t progressing any longer. I’m elated! It’s very possible if we had gone to a less progressive dentist, my daughter would have ended up with a lot of unneeded dental work. As it stands, I’m going to continue doing what we’re doing to try to keep her teeth healthy and prevent the decay from returning.

I believe the key factors in healing her teeth were: Ozone treatments, frequent brushing, xylitol, and a fairly clean diet low in processed foods. Those things and nightly MI paste were the only things we consistently did.



Here is the original post:

My 22 month old daughter has eaten a pretty healthy diet for the past year. She eats a lot of organic fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds, salmon and eggs. She never gets any juice or dried fruit, and the “worst” food she eats occasionally is pizza, bread, or organic cheddar crackers. She’s also still breastfed.

But even though I tried to do everything “right”, my daughter’s top four teeth are decaying. The back sides that I couldn’t see have become particularly bad. Based on all the research I’ve done so far, I’ve developed a method to try to heal or halt the tooth decay.

Key Components of Healing Toddler Tooth Decay

  • Primal / Paleo Diet – Organic fresh vegetables, some organic fruit, pastured meat, safe fish, pastured chicken eggs, raw organic cheese, pasture butter. No or few grains, nuts, seeds, and beans. Obviously no juice, sugar or any processed foods. 
  • I originally recommended a paleo diet, but I simply can’t anymore. I think our daughter’s tooth decay was largely caused by her lip tie and food / milk getting trapped. She honestly had plenty of grains and bread WHILE her teeth were healing, so my experience doesn’t back up going paleo.
  • Brushing daily with the smallest amount of Crest original toothpaste.
  • Night weaning – No more nursing at night. We were working on night weaning before this, anyway.
  • Cod Liver Oil by Green Pasture  (We barely used this, because it made my daughter throw up.)
  • Probiotics for all of us
  • MI Paste (recommended by the dentist)
  • Xylitol (caution- xylitol is very toxic to dogs!)

Normally, toddler tooth decay is blamed on the child falling asleep with a bottle or drinking far too much juice from a sippy cup. Those two didn’t apply to us.

She had an undiagnosed lip tie and possible tongue tie, a very painful (for me) and poor breastfeeding latch and it is possible that milk during night nursing and solid foods during the day just sat on her teeth. There is plenty of evidence that breast milk does not cause tooth decay (pdf), but perhaps under certain circumstances, like with the lip tie or enamel hypoplasia, it can. We’re ready to night wean, but not wean completely.

If you had any trouble breastfeeding or have a child with decaying upper teeth, I suggest checking out Dr. Kotlow’s website and all of his articles. Here is a one with great pictures of ties about why breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt (pdf).

lip ties, toddler tooth decay

Lip ties can cause a poor latch in breastfeeding and cause food and milk to stay near the teeth, promoting decay.

Toddler Tooth Decay – Lip Tie, Tongue Tie and Dental Work Options

We’re having the lip tie and possibly the tongue tie revised with a laser, and the dentist wants to use a glass ionomer sealant over the backs of her teeth. We are using MI Paste on her teeth to try to help build the enamel back up on the front of them, but I’m not convinced this paste will really do anything and it has a pretty bad ingredient list.

If we choose to do the dental work, it will come with a price. The old amalgam fillings contained mercury and emitted it. The newer composite fillings leach endocrine-disrupting BPA (I have a few of these.)

The glass ionomer cement emits flouride and by looking at different studies, like this one, I found that it might emit arsenic, lead, formaldehyde or aluminum! It’s very possible that the small amount she’d have on her teeth and the rate at which chemicals and heavy metals might leach out might make the sealant safe enough to use, but I need to do more research before I’ll feel comfortable. My child doesn’t even own a “rubber” duck because they can leach lead. How can I knowingly have something like this put on her teeth?

So I’ve developed a method to try before we go the sealant route. If I don’t see any improvement in the next month or so, we will get the sealants put in, because I won’t let her teeth just rot in her mouth or have her lose them long before her adult teeth come in.

Healing Toddler Tooth Decay Naturally – Dr. Ellie’s Regimen

healing tooth decay

Learn how to heal tooth decay with Dr. Ellie’s book.

My husband and I are currently following Dr. Ellie’s regimen for healing teeth. The ingredients used in her recommended products would normally never make it into our house, but we like how our teeth are feeling so far.

One key component of her regimen is xylitol. Xylitol is a sugar derived from trees and other plants, like corn, and it helps to eliminate the main bacteria type thought to promote tooth decay, Streptococcus mutans.

A lot of the Xylitol being sold is sourced from Chinese corn. We only buy her Zellies brand, which is sourced and made in Europe, or Xylitol products by Emerald Forest / Xylitol USA, which are sourced from and made in the US.  There is a bit of controversy surrounding the safety of xylitol, but xylitol candies have been given to children in Europe for years as a known way to help prevent cavities.

Flouride is also extremely controversial, but I’ve done my research and I feel comfortable with using it topically. I don’t believe it belongs in our water, though.

Healing Toddler Tooth Decay Naturally – Cure Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nagel

I’m currently finishing up Cure Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nagel. He seems to quote the Weston Price people a lot, and I’m a skeptic when it comes to much of what they have to say. His research is not solid, but some of what he says and some of the research he uses is. I can not recommend this book. 

He believes teeth can be healed with the right diet. Cod Liver Oil is one of his recommendations. (Can we get the benefits from taking Vitamin D supplements–or getting more sun– and getting more Omega-3s elsewhere? I think so.)

Archaeologists see dental caries in humans that grew grain and lived on it.  It’s one of the ways they know they’ve found an agricultural society. The rates of cavities are much lower in hunter-gatherer societies.

I’ve done a lot of research on nutrition in the past few years, and I’m a big fan of the Nutritarian diet promoted by Dr. Fuhrman. I’m going to try limiting grains and see how it goes.


Update on diet: We didn’t stay on a low grain diet for very long. Some families are able to do it, but we weren’t. My daughter pretty much inhaled rice the first time I gave it to her again. We still try to eat whole foods as much as we can, though, and her teeth still healed!



  1. Erin says

    What you wrote gives me so much hope!! My baby is 22 months old with the same exact problem as your little one. We went to the dentist as soon as I saw a bit of a brown spot on her tooth. The dentist who was too busy to talk to us sent us home with a paper that said my baby had 7 cavities and will need a lot if work done……I wasn’t so sure about everything that was on that paper but I did see some decay and I was in shock to find out thats what it was. My heart was broken (and still is) as soon as I got home I started to look for any way I can help my baby and I read Cure Tooth Decay, Its been a week we cut out all sugars and grains and taking reg/not fermented cod liver oil she is also taking a multivitamin. She has had problems with constipation so I was giving her a lot of juice…No more, just water now. Dr. Price’s theory really make sense. I stil breastfeed but I really think if I didn’t give my baby so much juice and maybe had her on vitamins earlier this would have never happened. Thanks for the hope!!!

    • says

      That’s great! Let me know how it goes.
      I think lots of vegetables are key, too. My daughter eats fresh fruit, frozen fruit, and vegetables at every meal and for snacks and doesn’t get constipated ever. We don’t do juice or dried fruit. And I don’t wholly support the diet he recommends in Cure Tooth Decay. I think some grains are fine- especially whole grains. I mean, her teeth hardened even though she ate oatmeal with blueberries a lot for breakfast and still had bread a few times a week. She also ate rice and whole wheat pasta.

  2. Erin says

    I did have a question that I forgot to ask: When you cut out sugars and grains did your baby want to nurse more? My little one only nursed night and naps and after this past week she would nurse all day if I let her. I don’t know if she is just so upset with the change or maybe looking for that something sweet.

  3. carolyn says

    We have a very similar problem with our almost two year old son. Thanks to your post, I checked his mouth and sure enough: really clear lip tie. My questions are: how did you get that corrected– doctor? dentist? specialist? Also, in reading about ozone treatment, I got worried that that also has some harmful side effects– did you learn otherwise? or decide it was better than the alternatives?

    • says

      I would look around in your area for a holistic dentist. Our pediatric dentist used a laser and the healing went really well.
      I decided I’d rather try the ozone- it was a better option for me than having to give her drugs and do fillings. The fillings can leach chemicals.

      I recommend this group on facebook:
      The mamas were super helpful and they have a working list (international) of which dentists and doctors they’ve used to fix lip and tongue ties.

      • carolyn says


        Wanted to update you on our situation as well, in case it is helpful for readers. We also did the xylitol/frequent brushing/ flouride toothpaste once a day, and regular ozone treatments. We used a kind of Tom’s of Maine toothpaste for the flouride b/c it seemed to have less chemicals. We also tried to cut out grains but it was pretty hard, and i felt uncomfortable relying so much on tons of meat, knowing how intense meat production, even organic, is on resources and global warming. he doesn’t eat white flour, and we do less carbs than we used to, no raisens or sticky sweets..we also night weaned back when he first got the cavities.
        Our sons cavities have only gotten slightly worse in the year since i noticed them, and he has no new ones. i think we will eventually have to fill the two on his molars, but won’t need to on the 4 front teeth. and now that he is almost 3 and loves our holistic dentist, i think we can avoid general anesthesia. i wish we didnt need fillings a all, but im glad for what we have accomplished. it was interesting to see that when i had some complications at the end of my second pregnancy this summer, and our routine of tooth care got disrupted, thats when the slight worsening occured. so that seemed like a good affirmation that was working.

  4. surabhi says

    Hi Bethany,

    My son was diagnosed with ECC last week and the dentist is quite adamant on puuling his front 4 teeth. I am not really comfortable with it. I am trying ti follow Weston Price diet but we are vegetarians so I am trying my best to get his enought fat soluble vitamins. I am also using xylitol but I couldn’t find any pediatric dentist who uses ozne therapy. Did you go to a genral dentist? Also no grain diet is not an option for me as its hard to follow. Which MI paste do you use? Do you let it sit on the teeth overnight or rinse it? My son same exact issues that your baby had. A very worried first time mom. Any advise is highly appreciated.
    Thank you,

    • says

      I wouldn’t let them pull all those teeth unless the decay is very, very bad. I’m not sure where you live– maybe you can broaden your search for a holistic dentist?

      Every night I brush her teeth, then give her a little xylitol, then rub a tiny bit of mi paste on the fronts and backs of the teeth. It stays on overnight. I went to a pediatric dentist who practices somewhat holistic dentistry.

  5. brittbarney says

    Hi! Thank you so much for posting this, our situation is almost identical! I had a question about ozone treatments though. The holistic dentist we went to said she doesn’t use ozone on patients younger than 5 usually because they have a hard time sitting still and end up inhaling, and coughing. How were you able to get your daughter to sit for the treatments?

    • says

      They just had my child sit still… she wasn’t happy about it, but she did stay still. She did cry the first two times and I held her hand. He had a vaccuum tube that sucked any excess ozone back out of her mouth. Not sure if that’s how everyone does it.

  6. stacey says

    Did you also brush teeth after every meal or just give a bit of the xylitol? We have some on the way (along with the clo and bo) and hoping that (along with dietary changes) we can help my dd’s teeth.

  7. catherine says

    thanks for the sharing, I am currently facing a similar situation and I’d been worrying and struggling about should I take my toddler to do all the dental works the dentist recommended in order to keep her tooth, not only is it pricey ($3900) but she needs to put my child in general anesthesia…… I am so glad to know there is an alternative out there that was proven to be worked. Btw, I don’t really know what is ozone treatments, are these necessary? I actually don’t know where to get this done too. And usually how much it cost? Was your dentist suggested you to do so on your child?

    • says

      Yes, my dentist uses ozone treatment. We didn’t have dental insurance and the treatments were a cheaper alternative to the dental work… plus our doctor agreed to put part of the cost toward the dental work if we didn’t see improvement. But we did.

      I definitely think they help. We saw the drastic improvement after those.

      • Catherine says

        Just want to know you think your daughter felt pain when the tooth looked so broke, my daughter still waking up few times a night, sometimes, I would worry that it was because of toothache, then I would struggle if I should take the fast track to get her the dental procedures….

        Also, I am living in Los Angeles, you know how can i find a holistic dentist in my area that do ozone treatment? thanks a lot!!

        • says

          You’ll have to call around or ask friends. There are two groups on fb- a cure tooth decay naturally group and a tongue tie support group. You may be able to ask moms on there if they have recommendations for your area. My friends told me about our local dentist. He doesn’t advertise himself as “holistic”, but everyone knows through word of mouth how open-minded he is.

  8. Sara says

    Ahhhhhhh!!! I’m soo glad to read this, but terrified too:(.
    My 2.75 year old son has a lip tie that I’ve just now become aware of. No doctor ever caught it. Breast feeding still, it was a shallow latch but I thought it was supposed to hurt and so I just got over it! Lol. It doesn’t hurt anymore:). Well, he was getting decay on his front two teeth so we took him to see a ped dentist, and she recommended the glass ionomer caps. I decided to go for it because my son was cooperating with her and she explained it was not toxic. (Now I’m REALLY PISSED to hear about the lead/arsenic thing:(((. We are super careful about plastics, fluoride, etc. My son drinks no juice, had dried cranberries in oatmeal but nothing else, eats pretty well. We do give him organic sprouted grain bread, sometimes a cookie here and there, but mostly are TRYING to stay away from sugar.
    The glass caps were ok but they have both chipped terribly, (and glass caps chipping means Ouch for breast feeding!!), and the dentist claims she told me they were a temporary fix, (do not remember that at all. I thought they’d be on there protecting his teeth until they fell out.). Now he’s got exposed decaying teeth with partial caps on them, and has a terrible fear of the dentist. And fluoride and lead and arsenic leaching into his mouth!

    I just discovered the lip tie in researching tooth decay. He speaks beautifully, but is a restless sleeper.

    Where should we begin with this process of trying to heal his teeth?
    How did the tie revision go in an older child? Did you decide to use GA or just local? We are close to Portland OR and know of a specialist there who lasers ties daily.
    Ive heard xylitol can heal teeth.. What have you heard about toxicity?

    I feel overwhelmed by the idea of revamping his diet completely, but I will tackle it if it worked for you!
    Any thoughts you have about our situation please please share them. I’m lost in a sleep deprived stupor of worry :)

    • says

      Relax. It’ll be alright. 😉 And these teeth do eventually fall out, so we get a second chance (which is what I tell myself when I see my daughter’s stained teeth.)

      My daughter has an underbite that I think was caused by her tongue tie, so we have more dental work ahead of us. I will have to allow them to use bpa-containing composite to fix the underbite, because the alternatives are pretty bad– palate expansion (painful) or breaking the jaw in adulthood (can cause nerve damage, etc.) I’ll take the bpa exposure over the alternatives and nip this problem now. There are always trade-offs and no perfect answers. We do the best we can with the knowledge we have. That’s what you did and that’s all you can do. 😉

      It’s possible the glass ionomer that was used did *not* have the other contaminants… though the flouride is pretty standard. You can try xylitol.. We used very small amounts of it and all was well. It may have helped curb the decay. I’m not sure how it works when you’ve covered up part of the tooth with a sealant… I don’t know if the tooth can heal as easily when it’s like that. Also, having pieces of it breaking off might create pockets that are harder to brush.

      Definitely see if any holistic dentists use ozone. I know some must, where you live. I used to live there. It’s such a progressive area and I loved it.
      My daughter was a restless sleeper and still is. Lasering her ties didn’t change it. It got better once we fully weaned. Her latch also didn’t improve. Next baby- I’m going to find out right away if ties are to blame for a poor latch.

      GA is not necessary if you get the ties lasered. I’d go to that specialist and see what he / she says. Lasering daily is a good sign. Did I link to that facebook group for lip ties? I think I did, in the post or comments…If not:

      You can also contact me again, if you’d like, from my contact page:

      Don’t be worried over the teeth. I know it sucks- I hate it, too- but it sounds like your son is happy and healthy and like you are doing a great job. You can take care of the tie(s) and go from there. On the scale of things, this is small. You are doing so much right. 😉

  9. Yvette says

    Hi Bethany,

    I love your article and found it very helpful about fighting tooth decay naturally. I often wondered about the Cure Tooth Decay book and think I’ll hold off from buying it. Don’t need anything with “questionable” research!

    Do you mix the MI Paste with the Xylitol? What is the ratio of Xylitol to MI Paste? Do you brush first with fluoride tooth paste before applying the Xylitol/MI Paste? Or do you use both on different days? What is your daily regimen and how do you apply it?

    I have some areas of decalcification that I’d like to reverse and heard Xylitol works wonders! And for now, I’ll just stick to a diet of organic vegetables, fruits, poultry/meats, cod liver oil, and probiotics (no bread, nuts, seeds, or beans!).

    I’ll definitely keep you posted on my results to add to your growing testimonials!

    • says

      I brushed her teeth first with either toothpaste or xylitol, then I put the MI Paste on at the end. There’s not really a ratio, just a very small amount of each. I use so little toothpaste, you can barely see it on the bristles. There’s no real regimen, I just try to remember to give her a little xylitol here and there and remember to apply the paste after brushing her teeth.

      Sometimes I also give her xylitol after meals. I have these 4g packets of xylitol (like sugar packets) and I’ll use maybe half of one or less in a whole day…that’s how little I use. I want to be conservative about it.

      Do let me know how it goes! After I was told her teeth were better, I largely stopped doing the regimen. Now I only do it once in awhile, when I happen to remember. We’ll go for a check-up soon, and if any decay is back, I’ll get back on it. I expect my daughter’s baby teeth will always be vulnerable and weak now that they’ve been damaged. I’m okay with that. I just don’t want it progressing.

  10. Yvette says

    Hi Bethany,

    Thanks for you reply! Your answers were very helpful and it gives me a better idea of how to use it.

    Does she consume the 4 g packets of Xylitol or does she use it topically through out the day?

    Thanks again for blogging on this topic! It’s people like you who keep us all informed!

  11. Koyama says

    My son is 4 now and when he was 2 years old he began vomiting every night for months (we were in and out of the hospital and had tests but no diagnosis was ever reached). This caused acid erosion on 2 of his teeth. Our dentist faught me and faught me to put him under general anesthesia in a surgical setting in a hospital to cap the teeth. Finally I gave in when he refused over and over to repair the teeth in his dental office versus the hospital and my son’s teeth were horribly decayed. When he came out of surgery he had his top incisors completely extracted and he had ALL of his molars capped! This was not in the treatment plan.
    I noticed last month that his canines seemed to be showing erosion and I took him to the dentist hoping to have fillings placed. The dentist (a different one from before, mind you) refused to do the work in his office and refered us to oral sugery and general anesthesia and claimed that my son needed 4 bottom front teeth capped due to “cavities”. I was ready to refuse treatment all together because my son’s mouth was already thrashed from the first surgery.
    I was shocked! The newest dentist told me that he could tell that the canines had both been drilled (“preped”) for fillings and that the fillings had simply fallen out. (The “work” on the canines could have only been done during the surgery that he had and without my knowledge, and there were NO reported issues with the canines at the time and none that I had noticed myself FRAUDULANT dental work on a baby!.) … The new dentist also told me that the bottom front teeth did not need dental work, that they needed MI paste to strengthen them to prevent possible future carries.
    Sorry for the bad grammar, I’m pretty upset, as this just happened today… I cried when we left the dentist because I was so relieved that he didn’t try to put him under general anesthesia an I’m so angry at the other crooks of dentists…
    I’m applying the first treatment of MI paste now…

  12. MamatoM says

    Thank you so much for your post. I’ve been following a mainly nutritarian diet for my 19 month old, in addition to very frequent 24/7 nursing. I noticed her front teeth looked stained after eating a few weeks ago, and yesterday saw that one of them actually looked like it was crumbling :( I immediately scheduled a dentist appointment, but am searching for explanations. Dr. Furhman’s research makes so much sense, but so does some of the WAPF stuff. Now, I think she does have a lip tie, which explains the plugged ducts and tooth decay. Any advice for night weaning? She still nurses 3x’s a night. As of today, I’m going to wipe her teeth after each nursing session, and I’ve ordered xylitol. Is Dr. Ellie’s plan still working for you and your husband? I’d like to start that for myself. Thanks again!

    • MamatoM says

      Update 8 months later: just posting on here to hopefully help others in the same situation. I used Dr. Ellie’s regimen of a drop of Act and a rice grain amount of crest to brush her teeth twice daily (some days just once), gave Zellies bears after meals or xylitol granules on tooth brush, in water or straight, and tried unsuccessfully to night wean (until last week). I incorporated more animal products in her diet and supplemented with vitamin d. (Apprehensive about using CLO.) She still needs caps on all 4 front teeth and pulpotomies on two. We are scheduled for that next month under GA. After reading about risks of in office dental sedation, I decided GA in the hospital is safer at her age. The good news is that the rest of her teeth look great and the decay did not worsen significantly. Thanks for your info Bethany. I’m glad I tried to do what I could first.

  13. Lola says

    My son is 16 mo and has four decaying teeth. Our holistic dentist said there’s nothing to do now but wait…so I’m taking it upon myself to remove grains and add calcium, cod fish liver oil and vit d. Do you think the teeth have to be capped or removed?

    • says

      Can your dentist do the ozone treatment? I really think the ozone and small amount of xylitol we used helped halt my daughter’s decay. If my daughter’s decay got to the point where she was in pain or at risk of infected gums or something, I’d certainly have her affected baby teeth capped or removed. But she never got to that point.

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