The Real Cause OF Tooth Decay Part 2
In part one I covered the work of Weston A. Price who found groups of people from various geographic areas and climates eating varied diets who were “immune to tooth decay”. It was amazing to him and as a concerned dentist he needed to understand why. So what did all these different people have in common? Well, they all ate ancestral diets. Meaning they ate foods based on the wisdom of their ancestors who learned over time what made them healthy and strong.
He found that even though every group ate very different diets, there were four commonalities in the ancestral diets.
First, he found that they were consuming around four times the amount of vitamin C and other “water soluble” vitamins.
Second, he found they were consuming up to ten times the amount of “fat soluble” vitamins. They are a group of vitamins composed of vitamins A, D, E, and K2.
Third, he found that the diets provided four times the minerals than their modern counterparts.
Lastly, Dr. Price found that the traditional diets did not contain refined sugar; white flour; skim or lowfat milk; hydrogenated vegetable oils; or any other processed additives.
Let’s go through the four items one by one in further detail:
Vitamin C has been studied extensively since it was discovered. For instance, the connective tissue in gums called collagen is turned over daily by about 20%. The cells that do this require vitamin C. Also, the white blood cells of the mouth require vitamin C concentration within them in order to defend against bacteria. There have been several studies that show that individuals with higher vitamin C blood concentrations have lower plaque levels. Indeed Dr. Price called vitamin C “the invisible toothbrush”. So there is clearly a relationship between adequate vitamin C levels and the lack of tooth decay and gum disease.
The Fat soluble vitamins are very much involved in calcium metabolism. Vitamin A and vitamin D both are required by the body to make two different proteins involved in calcium transport and deposition. One protein called osteocalcin is found in teeth and bones. It actually attracts the calcium to itself. The other protein is matrix GLA protein which is found in the soft tissues. It has the opposite effect of osteocalcin, namely, it makes sure calcium stays away. Afterall, the soft tissue can only remain soft if it does not mineralize. The magic only happens with these two proteins when they are “activated” by vitamin K2. It acts as an “on” switch by donating a carboxyl group to the proteins. Then, and only then will the proteins function. So, we can clearly see that we will only be able to maintain healthy teeth and the bone that supports them in the presence of adequate fat soluble vitamin levels.
Minerals are necessary to form teeth and bones. Therefore, a diet deficient in them would clearly not have the proper building blocks for the growth and maintenance of any hard structures like teeth and the bones that support them.
The last big component of healthy traditional diets was the lack of processed food. Let’s go through the list to find out what the dangers are:
Sugar is a well known cariogenic agent. In other words, it causes cavities. A quick primer is that the germs in our mouth eat the sugar and secrete acids as a waste product. The minerals in teeth will literally dissolve in an acidic environment. When enough of a tooth has dissolved, a hole, or cavity is the result.
White flour is just as bad as sugar for our teeth because humans posses salivary amylase, which breaks down carbohydrates into simple sugars. The result is the same as eating sugar. We end up with overfed bacteria and the acid they produce, leading to decay. The next time you eat a few pretzels, notice how they stick to the biting surfaces of your back teeth. So much so, that it is hard to close your teeth together. Minutes later, that doughy substance will be converted to sugar. Sad but true.
Skim milk has had the fat removed, and therefore the fat soluble vitamins A, D and K2. They generally add vitamin D back, but very little. Even if they added enough, it will not help unless vitamin K2 is present, which sadly, no manufacturers add back, so no benefits to our teeth will be realized.
Vegetable oils like corn, soy, cotton and canola are composed chiefly of Omega 6 oils. These essential oils are needed in small amounts for humans, and in equal proportions to Omega 3 oils. When they are abundant in the diet, they cause inflammation. The average American has ten times the necessary amount. Indeed, it is one of the nutrients found in overabundance in our diets. Many inflammatory diseases stem from this imbalance, gum disease being one of them.
Hydrogenated oils are trans fats. Enough said there.
I hope all of this science was not too overwhelming. I felt it necessary to give some of the background so that in part three, where I will give specific recommendations of what foods to eat and what foods to avoid, that it will make a bit more sense.