Modernity vs. your mouth

our ancestors had better teeth and we should pay attention to that

Before “organic” was a thing, at a time when doctors prescribed cigarettes for a host of ills, there was a free thinker named Weston A. Price.

A Canadian dentist working in Cleveland, Dr. Price (1870-1948) must have pulled one rotten tooth too many.

He closed his office and embarked on a round-the-world mission to determine the cause of the cavities, tooth crowding, gum disease and other oral health breakdowns so common in his practice and all of North America.

cavities aren’t normal, they’re cultural

Ultimately, Dr. Price would travel the world, studying “primitive” and modern societies.

He discovered that traditional cultures didn’t experience our dental woes. In fact, not even close. There were almost no cavities, orthodontic issues—or many other Western diseases in general.

These older cultural groups had straight, even, white teeth and, shocker, they were able to keep their teeth over the long haul. Their dental palates were wider, bones throughout their bodies were stronger and they had more muscle mass.

When traditional populations adopted modern, industrial diets and lifestyles, they swiftly became like us, with smaller dental palates that couldn’t hold all their teeth (within just one generation). They had cavities and weaker bodies prone to more disease.

drop the can opener and back away?

Dr. Price became convinced that commercially prepared and stored foods had been stripped of vitamins and minerals that prevent a range of diseases, in the mouth and beyond.

Some called his work “a masterpiece of research” while others scoffed, calling him anti-modern and a romantic.

You’re welcome to wade into that debate online but in the meantime, we pulled together some advice from his still thriving foundation.

Here are tips, inspired by their work, that resonate with our own observations as health professionals.

Traditional wisdom for your kitchen, your teeth and your family’s health

1.     Eat whole, unprocessed foods.

2.     Go for organic as much as you can.

3.     When consuming meat, choose pasture-fed animals only.

4.     Eat wild fish (not farm-raised), fish eggs and shellfish from unpolluted waters.

5.     If you eat dairy, choose full-fat milk products from pasture-fed animals, preferably raw and/or fermented.

6.     Use only traditional vegetable oils—extra virgin olive oil, expeller-expressed sesame oil, small amounts of expeller-expressed flax oil, and the tropical oils—coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil.

7.     Avoid commercially produced oils like shortening or “vegetable oil” which are highly refined, rancid and contain chemical byproducts.

8.     Use organic whole grains, legumes and nuts that have been prepared by soaking, sprouting or sour leavening to neutralize phytic acid, enzyme inhibitors and other anti-nutrients.

9.     Include enzyme-rich lacto-fermented vegetables, fruits, beverages and condiments in your diet on a regular basis. Kimchi and sauerkraut are great starting points.

10.  Prepare homemade stocks from pastured animals raised on non-GMO feed.

11.  Use filtered water for cooking and drinking.

12.  Use unrefined salt and natural herbs and spices instead of processed table salt which is stripped of minerals and contains artificial iodine (= terrible for your endocrine system and metabolism) or seasoning pouches which often contain MSG.

13.  Make your own salad dressing using raw vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and a small amount of expeller-expressed flax oil.

14.  Use traditional sweeteners in moderation, such as raw honey, maple syrup, maple sugar, date sugar, dehydrated cane sugar juice and green stevia powder.

15.  Use only unpasteurized, organic wine or beer in moderation with food.

16.  Cook in stainless steel, cast iron, glass or good quality enamel pans.

17.  Use only natural, food-based supplements.

18.  Get plenty of sleep, exercise and natural light.

19.  Think positive thoughts and practice forgiveness.

So there’s some food for thought. We’re raising a glass of organic wine to Dr. Price.

Cheers to your health.




Weston A. Price Foundation:




Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, Ph. D., “Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats,” NewTrends Publishing, Copyright 1999, 2001

Client: Green Smoothie Girl

Project: Weston Price blog post