Can Oil “Cure” a Cavity?
Posted on Wednesday, April 11th, 2012
That appears to be the claim of a post we recently saw over at The Healthy Home Economist, which describes healing a child’s “cavity” with butter oil capsules and a switch from tahini to raw butter at breakfast. While it’s true that decay can be arrested with good diet and hygiene, this isn’t the same thing as “healed.”
Unfortunately, we don’t have a dentist’s observation of what was going on with the child’s tooth before the butter oil regimen. We have the mother’s description:
My oldest child recently developed a cavity in his top right lateral incisor. It was behind the tooth right on the gumline. My husband noticed it one night as he was checking his teeth to see if he was doing a good job brushing and flossing (he’s way too old for nightly brushing by Mom or Dad).
There was a definite hole in the tooth and not a small one either. My husband called me over to take a look and I was alarmed to see the hole and I used a rubber tipped tooth probe that we have on hand to check how deep it was. The tip of the probe went way into the hole. There was no doubt that this was a cavity, and we both agreed that we needed to get it filled pronto.
But “pronto” turned out to be a “few weeks” away – hence, the decision to use oil supplements in hope of helping the cavity “heal.” When she checked again, “NO CAVITY!”
From a dental standpoint, we question this interpretation.
To begin with, behind the upper right lateral incisor is a very unusual place for a cavity to develop. “I could examine 100 to 200 children,” says Dr. Verigin, “and never see a cavity where she described it.” It’s also a very difficult area to accurately observe without bright, focused light. How much harder by the beam of a flashlight!
More, there is simply no known mechanism by which selected fats would heal a tooth with a cavity as big and deep as described. After all, a cavity isn’t just an empty hole. It’s a site of mushy, spongy, leathery decay – what a dentist cleans out before filling the tooth. Nor can a tooth remineralize so extensively, let alone so quickly.
These facts make the story seem highly unlikely – more the tale of an honest mistake and wishful thinking. Perhaps a misaligned probe “confirmed” a shadow or stain or natural dark spot as a “cavity.” After all, the tooth went without further observation for a few weeks and then appeared “healed” to the mother. When a dentist finally looked at the area, the only thing he could confirm was that there was “no cavity to be found anywhere.”
What’s unfortunate is that many people accept such accounts uncritically out of an understandable desire not to buy into toxic dentistry or the “sick care” industry. And who can blame anyone for wanting to take a more natural path to healing? All the more reason to be sure correct information gets out there.
Image by Jennuine Captures, via Flickr