The connection of the teeth to general health and efficacy was appreciated in a general way long before vitamins or focal infections were heard of. Toothaches used to be as inevitable as colds, and slave buyers and horse traders scrutinized the teeth of their potential purchases before purchasing. However, just in recent times has attention been given to the care and preservation of their teeth.
Early studies of this cause and prevention of dental caries indicated there might be one causative factor but further results reveal that the challenge is a complicated one, with diet, heredity, internal secretions, mechanical factors, and oral hygiene of greatest importance.
Diet and Dental Caries
There’s now general agreement that diet probably is the most significant single factor in the maintenance of sound, healthy teeth, and that an adequate diet is most essential through the period of most rapid growth. McCullum and Simmonds conclude from an experimental study that rats that are stored to a deficient diet in a part of their developing period have poor teeth and early decay, although an adequate diet is supplied later. In the days before viosterol had been developed and earlier cod-liver oil was widely used, McCullum reported that in the time of entering faculty 9 percent of children who had been breastfed for at least 6 weeks had dental caries, 22 percent of children who were fed on cow’s milk or on milk mixtures, and 27 percent who were fed oatmeal water and other prepared foods. This would indicate that the base of dental health is put quite early in life, but it now appears that the prenatal period can also be of great importance in this aspect. As a result, the emphasis is now being put upon the right diet during pregnancy.
Significant though diet admittedly is, that doesn’t seem to be some single dietary factor which is responsible for dental caries. Magnesium and phosphorus, the two minerals found in teeth and bones, and vitamin D, which regulates the utilization of these minerals by the body, are clearly crucial. Of these, calcium and vitamin D were thought to be of greatest significance: but the recent work seems to indicate that phosphorus is of as great if not greater importance than calcium. Milk, certain vegetables, and fish foods are rich sources of both calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D is quite likely to be deficient in organic foods throughout the winter months but is readily administered in the kind of cod-liver oil, vitamin D milk, or viosterol. Set an appointment at Port Hawksbury Dental.
Children have been denied candy because of the belief that glucose is related to dental decay, and certain studies completed in institutions for orphans in which the diet is strictly controlled suggest the incidence of dental caries is directly associated with the total amount of carbohydrate from the diet. Cereals where the hull of this grain has been removed seem to have an unfavorable influence upon the evolution of the teeth, and many researchers believe that oatmeal contributes directly to the creation of caries.
Divergent opinions concerning the relation of diet to dental health leave one quite perplexed. Apparently, no one dietary element is responsible for resistance to caries, but different elements are essential for the proper growth and continuing soundness of tooth. For practical purposes, a well-rounded diet, comprising liberal amounts of milk, orange juice, fresh fruits, vegetables, and for kids cod-liver oil another kind of vitamin D, may be depended on to supply the nutritional requirements of the teeth.
It’s often said that”a clean tooth never decays.” Whether or not this is accurate depends upon the definition of cleanliness. If cleanliness implies freedom from germs, the statement probably is correct. But with bacteria constantly present in the mouth and in the food we eat, it is impossible to get the teeth bacteriologically clean.
The mechanism of corrosion is through the activity of acids produced by bacterial decomposition of meals, first on the enamel and then upon the softer dentine of the tooth. The action of this acid on the tooth structure may begin in any crevice, irregularity, or fracture in the enamel. The quantity of decomposition and acid formation is greatest if there are gross accumulations of food substances. In fact, it’s between the teeth, in which it is difficult to prevent accumulations of meals that rust most often begins. Hence, although cleanliness of their teeth is hot the sole element in the prevention of dental decay, or even the most important one it is not without importance.
Some clarification of this aspect of the issue was given by recent studies of the bacteria within the mouth. If a specific germ called Lactobacillus acidophilus occurs in quantity caries grow with fantastic rapidity. This is only because those bacteria act upon carbohydrates, especially sugars, on and about the teeth to form acids that dissolve the enamel and the dentine. These studies also have proven that when persons have too much of lactobacilli in their mouths, the amount of caries can be reduced from the elimination of sugars and other readily fermentable carbohydrates in the diet.
It currently seems that certain compounds applied to the teeth may neutralize the acids formed by the activity of bacteria upon carbs and therefore reduce caries. A number of the chemicals are currently being included in so”ammoniated” toothpaste.
Fluorine and Dental Caries
During the past several years investigations have taken another turn. It had been ascertained that the only chemical difference between carious and non-carious teeth is that carious teeth contain less fluorine, a chemical component that’s present in minute quantities in the bones and teeth. This was accompanied by an evaluation, of their fluorine content of the drinking water in areas in which dental caries are infrequent and areas in which they are prevalent. Here again, a gap in fluorine content has been discovered. From such studies, it has been reasoned that the existence of roughly 1 part of fluorine per 1,000,000 parts of drinking water results in a decreased prevalence of caries. Incidentally, fluorine in this amount causes some mottling of the teeth.
Proceeding on the basis of the information, several investigators have experimented with the use of fluorine into the face of the teeth of the children. In this study, Knutson and Armstrong reported the application of 2 per cent sodium fluoride solution to the teeth led to 40 percent fewer caries over a span of a year in 289 children than developed in 326 untreated controls. No therapeutic effect was mentioned on teeth where caries existed. This use of fluorine for the prevention of dental caries is a promising line of investigation but it’s still at the experimental stage.
Other exceedingly important studies are those in which sodium fluoride in minute amounts is being added to the water supplies of several cities that have low fluoride content. If this should prove successful in preventing caries, it will be a great forward step in the hands of this most prevalent of human ailments.