This article accompanies the video of the same name (below) which explains the findings of several researchers working in the 1950s whose work largely agreed and who uncovered a deeper story to the causes of dental disease than that currently believed.
Many people who have been following their dentist’s advice to avoid sugar and ate a supposedly healthy diet, and to floss and brush their teeth with fluoridated toothpaste, are distressed to find that they, or their children STILL get tooth decay.
In fact, tooth decay is the most common disease in the world and practically no one goes unaffected. Nearly half of all children in the developed world will get decay in their baby teeth. And this is not a trivial issue because decay in childhood sets up a lifelong cycle of treatment that ultimately results in the need for root canal fillings or extractions.
And all of the treatments done – from placing mercury-containing amalgam fillings (which are toxic and split teeth), through root canal fillings (which are dead teeth that act as a breeding ground for bacteria and their toxins), and extractions (which frequently heal incompletely forming an osteonecrotic bone lesion known as a cavitation), have serious and largely unrecognised health consequences.
In addition, efforts to reduce decay have proved, at best, only partially effective and least effective for those that need it most.
Could this be because the currently accepted theory of decay causation is wrong?
To understand more we need to go back to the 1950s. What was believed then and what is still believed and taught now is the Bacterial Fermentation Theory of decay. This theory has the advantage of being so simple even a small child can understand it.
The Bacterial Fermentation Theory of Decay
The two most common diseases in the world – gum disease and tooth decay – are biofilm diseases. That is, they are caused by bacterial films adhering to the tooth surface.
What this theory says is that decay is caused by oral bacteria which adhere to the tooth surface and produce acids from dietary carbohydrates and sugars. These acids dissolve the minerals from the tooth surface and invade the tooth once the enamel surface is breached. This theory regards tooth decay as being topical in nature.
This theory is derived from Louis Pasteur’s Germ Theory which maintains that we are under assault from without. It is also symptomatic of thinking of the body in mechanistic terms as a collection of parts, and of the way dentistry has evolved as a speciality which concerns itself with tooth mechanics rather than dealing with the health of the individual as a complete biological system.
In the 1950s, the dentist researcher Dr Ralph Steinman and the endocrinologist, Professor John Leonora, did a lot of animal experiments into tooth decay at Loma Linda University and between them developed an understanding of decay causation which has since been overlooked.
However, this theory is a good deal more complicated and in order to understand it you need to understand a little about the way teeth develop and function.
Tooth development and function
Just a few weeks after conception the lining – the epithelium – of the mouth starts to thicken. It forms first a bud, then a cap and then a bell shape. The inner lining of the bell is composed of cells known as odontoblasts and the outer aspect of cells known as ameloblasts.
The ameloblasts migrate outward to from the crystalline enamel of the tooth and the odontoblasts migrate inward to form the tubular dentine. The remainder of the tooth forms as it erupts into the mouth, and the ameloblasts are shed, but the odontoblasts remain lining the pulp chamber of the tooth and acting as the circulation for the dentine.
So, to the more complex understanding of the causes of tooth decay developed by Drs Ralph Steinman and John Leonora known as Proteolysis-Chelation Theory.
The Proteolysis-Chelation Theory of Decay
The odontoblasts which maintain the dentine of the tooth are the most metabolically active cells in the body and also work at very high osmotic pressures.
Like osteoblasts in bone, they transport nutrients to the dentine, remove toxic wastes, repair microcracks within the tooth and also have a series of metabolic shields which prevent the tooth from decaying.
In health, fluids flow from within the tooth, out through the dentinal tubules, helping to prevent the adhesion of bacteria and foods. After all, for most of man’s history, he didn’t brush or floss his teeth!
What the researcher, Dr Ralph Steinman found, was that the metabolism of the odontoblasts was governed by the endocrine system which was controlled by the diet. So that the foods consumed, cause changes in a hormone produced by the pituitary gland in the base of the brain. This hormone stimulates production of a hormone Steinman called parotin which is produced by the parotid salivary glands in the cheek, and it is parotin that controls the activity of the odontoblasts.
When a diet high in carbohydrates is consumed the metabolism of the odontoblasts breaks down, toxins accumulate, the odontoblast cells die and the fluid flows reverse. This means that the defences of the tooth break down first and then bacteria are able to invade the body.
This theory regards tooth decay as being systemic in nature and an early warning sign of the degenerative diseases which occur approximately 10 years later.
This is important because our whole approach to decay prevention is currently ignoring the true cause – that is that decay is an endocrine disorder caused by consuming nutritionally deficient dietary carbohydrates – and is focused upon topical measures such as improving oral hygiene, the use of fissure sealants, and the application of fluoride.
So that we are constantly dealing with the symptoms of disease rather than the cause. And it is for this reason that the first rule of natural medicine is Tolle Causam – identify and remove the cause.
Continued in The real causes of tooth decay 2