Is Sugar Really the Cause of Tooth Decay? With Dr. Steven Lin

Is Sugar Really the Cause of Tooth Decay? With Dr. Steven Lin


Welcome to this comprehensive blog series where we explore the intricate relationship between diet and dental health. Today, we learn from Dr. Steven Lin, an expert in dental health. He will help us understand whether sugar is really the villain when it comes to tooth decay. The common belief is that sugar is the primary cause of dental issues, but is that the whole story? This nine part series aims to dive deep into the science and myths surrounding tooth decay, providing you with actionable insights for better dental health.

In this blog we briefly introduce each of the nine parts in the series. You can dive into each blog using the links at the bottom of this blog.

Part 1: The Role of Sugar in Tooth Decay


The Traditional View

The traditional view has always been that sugar leads to tooth decay. The idea is simple: you eat sugar, it feeds the bacteria in your mouth, and this leads to acid production which erodes your teeth. But is it that straightforward?

A New Perspective

Dr. Lin introduces a more nuanced perspective. According to him, it's not just sugar but also nutrient deficiencies that play a significant role in dental health. The bacteria in your mouth are part of a complex ecosystem, and their behavior is influenced by more than just sugar.

Table: Traditional View vs. New Perspective

Traditional View New Perspective
Sugar feeds bacteria Sugar is one factor among many
Acid erodes teeth Nutrient deficiencies also play a role
Solution is to reduce sugar Solution involves a nutrient rich diet

Part 2: The Oral Microbiome

What is the Oral Microbiome?

The oral microbiome is the community of microorganisms living in your mouth (oral cavity). This includes bacteria, fungi, and even viruses. These microorganisms play a crucial role in maintaining oral health.

Importance in Dental Health

Dr. Lin emphasizes the importance of the oral microbiome in dental health. A balanced oral microbiome helps in preventing tooth decay and other dental issues. An imbalance due to deficiencies, often the result of dietary choices, can lead to problems.

Diet and the Oral Microbiome

Your diet plays a significant role in maintaining the balance and health of the oral microbiome. Consuming a diet rich in essential nutrients can help in keeping your oral microbiome healthy.

List of Foods Beneficial for Oral Microbiome:

  • Raw dairy e.g. yogurt, milk, cheese, kefir, butter
  • Fermented foods
  • Animal-based proteins e.g. steak, ground beef, lamb, bison
  • Healthy fats e.g. tallow, butter, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil

Animal based foods

Part 3: Nutrients and Dental Health

Key Nutrients

According to Dr. Lin, the key nutrients essential for dental health are fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, and K2. These vitamins play a crucial role in maintaining not just your teeth but also your overall oral health.

Animal-Based Foods

Dr. Lin strongly recommends animal-based foods as they are rich in essential nutrients. These foods provide the necessary vitamins and minerals that are crucial for dental health.

Table: A few examples of Animal-Based Foods and Their Nutrients

Food Item Nutrients Provided
Fish (with bones) Omega-3, Vitamin D, Protein
Liver Vitamin A, B2, B12, Iron, Copper, Protein
Eggs Vitamin D, Protein, Choline

Part 4: The Connection Between Diet and Systemic Health

Dental Health as a Sign

Poor dental health can often be a sign of poor systemic health. Nutrient deficiencies not only affect your teeth but can also lead to other health issues like weakened immunity and chronic diseases.

A Nutrient Rich Diet for Overall Health

A nutrient rich and balanced diet is essential for overall health. Dr. Lin emphasizes that a diet rich in essential nutrients can prevent not just dental issues but also other health problems.

Part 5: Bad Breath - What's Really Causing It?

Common Misconceptions

One of the common misconceptions about bad breath is that it's solely an oral issue. However, Dr. Lin explains that bad breath can also be a sign of systemic issues like digestive problems.

The Real Causes

The real causes of bad breath can vary from oral issues like an imbalance in the oral microbiome to systemic issues like gastrointestinal problems.

List of Common Causes of Bad Breath:

  • Oral microbiome imbalance
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Poor oral hygiene

Mouthwash is Not the Solution

Dr. Lin warns against the overuse of mouthwash. While it may provide temporary relief from bad breath, it can also disrupt the oral microbiome, leading to more problems in the long run.

Part 6: Bruxism - The Teeth Grinding Issue

What is Bruxism?

Bruxism is the medical term for teeth grinding. It's a common issue that many people face, often without realizing it.

Causes of Bruxism

According to Dr. Lin, the most common cause of bruxism is airway issues. When your airway is obstructed during sleep, your brain triggers a response to grind your teeth to open up the airway.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Nutrient deficiencies can also play a role in bruxism. Lack of essential nutrients can lead to muscle tension and other issues that contribute to teeth grinding.

Part 7: The Importance of Vitamin D

Role in Dental Health

Vitamin D plays a critical role in dental health. It's essential for the absorption of calcium and phosphate, which are crucial for maintaining healthy teeth and bones.

Connection with Sleep Issues


Dr. Lin discusses the connection between Vitamin D and sleep issues. People with sleep apnea often have Vitamin D deficiencies, which can further exacerbate dental issues.

Natural Sources

The best way to get Vitamin D is through natural sources like sunlight and animal-based foods. Supplements can help, but natural sources are preferred if possible.

Part 8: Debunking Myths

Myth: Our Ancestors Had Poor Dental Health

One common myth is that our ancestors had poor dental health. However, Dr. Lin points out that traditional diets were actually beneficial for dental health.

Addressing Criticisms

Some people criticize the concept of ancestral diets, claiming they are outdated. However, Dr. Lin argues that these diets are based on foods rich in essential nutrients, making them beneficial for modern-day dental health.

Part 9: The Future of Dental Health

Current Problems

Dr. Lin discusses the current problems in dental health, emphasizing that there's a lot that needs to be done. Education and awareness are key to solving these issues.

The Role of Diet

Diet plays a significant role in preventing dental issues for future generations. Dr. Lin stresses the importance of a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients for maintaining good dental health.


Understanding the relationship between diet and dental health is crucial for maintaining not just your teeth but your overall well-being. We hope this comprehensive series has provided you with valuable insights and actionable steps for better dental health.

Additional Resources

Feel free to explore each part for a deep dive into these fascinating topics. Thank you for reading!

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