Faulty food weakens the nerves as well as the teeth and lowers resistance to pain and shock. I am sure that if people would have their teeth pulled without the use of anaesthetics, there would be far less after-suffering and no deaths from anaesthesia.
Dr. Howe was able to produce bone destruction in various parts of the body by faulty diet. He was also able to demonstrate bone regeneration following an improvement in diet. Some of the destructive changes were so like osteomalacia that they could not differentiate between the "two" conditions. The conditions are probably identical. By the same faulty diet he was able to produce dental caries; and by a change of diet he produced a degree of dental regeneration.
Each tooth is a highly specialized piece, of bone, a part of the bony system of the body, and receives its nourishment from the blood, just as do the other bones of the body. The teeth are subject to the same laws and nutritional requirements as the rest of man's bones and are affected for good or ill by whatever affects the nutrition of the body as a whole.
The teeth are leached of their salts from the inside until there is only a shell left. The decay begins on the inside. The teeth may be practically destroyed from within. Cavities form inside, then the enamel breaks through. Scrubbing the surface of the teeth cannot build sound teeth. The healthy human mouth is self-cleansing and bacteria cannot thrive therein.
Howe fed growing animals on deficient and adequate diets alternately and produced stripes of hard structure and soft structure in the teeth representing the periods of feeding. He placed guinea-pigs on a deficient diet and says: "We found that soon the teeth became decalcified, lost their hardness, could be easily penetrated by a sharp instrument, or a pin and that they were so soft they easily bend. Distinct cavities formed in some and the dentin was badly disintegrated.
"We found the alveolar process, or semi-bony structure that holds the teeth firmly in place had been gradually absorbed, so the teeth became loose and could be easily pulled out with thumb and finger whereas ordinarily they are set in very tightly, as are healthy human teeth.
"Inflammatory and degenerative changes occurred resembling pyorrhoea. In the experiments where we injected micro-organisms, into the gums of guinea pigs, no such results occurred, showing that pyorrhoea is a result rather than a cause.
"Irregularities of the teeth occurred, in one case the teeth crossed each other, making a letter X. Putting this animal back on a normal diet recalcified these teeth, set them hard in their sockets and so fixed them permanently in this abnormal position.
"We examined the jaws of some of these animals after they had died. The jaws showed that while the guinea pigs had been on a vitamin deficient diet, the bony structure of the jaw had been mined of its calcium and when the normal diet was restored, areas of calcium had been replaced, showing very definitely that the body calls on the bones for calcium when it is needed in the blood, and that the blood gives calcium back when there is an abundance of this element."
Zilva and Wells fed guinea pigs on a scorbutic diet and noted the following changes in their teeth--pronounced cellular disorganization, with disappearance of nuclei and of interstitial cement substances. The disintegrating process involved the nerves, cells, bloodvessels and odontoblasts, their places being taken by a new firm, fibrous structure devoid of cells, nuclei, or regular arrangement of constructed parts. Similar pathological changes have been observed to occur in the various organs of the body.
Let us understand, once and for all, that decay of teeth is a result of a disturbance of calcium metabolism, from whatever cause. It may be and often is due to a faulty diet; and may be and often is due to many other factors and influences that pervert metabolism. I have seen the rapid breaking down of the teeth in cases of marked chronic digestive troubles. Hyperacidity of the stomach is a frequent cause of crumbling of the teeth. Animal experimenters point out that those animals that develop caries, also develop acute gastrointestinal disturbances, diarrhea with mucus and blood in their stools. The best diet that can be fed will fail to nourish the body if it is not digested. It follows, logically, that whatever deranges digestion and perverts metabolism may be responsible for tooth decay.
Dr. C. R. Kelley, New York City, observes, "Periods of disease in children marked for general nutritional disturbances in which tooth nourishment is for a time completely shut off, leave their traces like sign-posts on developing teeth."
Defective teeth are always present in rickets. This is true in children, in dogs, in pigs and in other animals. The pig is most susceptible to rickets of all domesticated animals. At the Rowett Institute, in England, it was not found possible to produce any symptoms of rickets in any animal, under any environment, favorable or unfavorable, on a diet which contains a sufficient amount of alkaline salts. Mineral deficiency brings about rickets, and injures the teeth.
Artificial infant feeding tends to produce decay of the teeth. Children in England and Scotland show about 85% decayed teeth. American children who are breast-fed to six months or more show 42.6%, decayed teeth; if they are nursed under six months they show 42.9% decayed teeth. Children fed on sweetened condensed milk show nearly 73%, decayed teeth. The vital necessity of nursing your child is thus made manifest. But, it is also necessary that you feed yourself properly.
In certain tribes who chip their teeth off and point them in their effort to add to their beauty, so long as their broken teeth are well-nourished, they do not decay. An animal may break a tooth in a fight or otherwise, but it does not decay.
There is only one reason why civilized children cannot have as good teeth as savage children--the refusal of pregnant and nursing mothers to eat proper foods and take adequate care of themselves and their failure to properly feed their children up to the sixth year of their lives.
Fluorine starvation may often be responsible for a thinning of the enamel of the teeth. But there is no excuse for fluorine starvation. Nature certainly supplies us with abundance of this in natural foods.
Mrs. Mellanby (of England) declares, "the more cereals that are eaten, other things being equal, the worse formed are the teeth." I think this applies to all cereals and to all cereal foods, but it particularly applies to all denatured cereals. The present diet of civilized peoples is largely acid-forming, and the excess of the acid radicals in our diet makes a great demand on the alkaline bases of our bodies. White flour has been robbed of most of its alkaline salts and is much more acid-forming than whole-wheat flour. But even whole-wheat is an acid-ash food.
The mineral salts of white bread have a higher acidity than that of other cereals. It is, no doubt, for this reason that in countries that subsist largely on white flour, tooth decay is more prevalent than where other cereals (also denatured) are used.
Investigations have revealed that those races whose diets include no cereals have teeth and mouths practically free of any kind of disease, while those races whose staple diets are cereals and meat with relatively small amounts of fruits and vegetables have jaws and teeth like those so common in America. Wheat is the most damaging of all the cereals, regarded from the point of view of its acidity. Little meat and cereals and an abundance of fruits and vegetables produce teeth like those found in Polish and Irish peasantry and those of the vegetarian races of the Orient.
Chalky decomposition of the enamel of the teeth is the result of calcium and phosphorus deficiency over a period of years. It is not always possible to arrest the decomposition or to improve the teeth. Indeed I recall having seen but one case where marked improvement followed a revolution of the diet. If this condition is to be prevented in children the mother must have ample mineral-bearing food during pregnancy and lactation.
If, in the quotations from Dr. Howe, we substitute the words fresh fruits and green raw vegetables, for the term vitamin C, we have a practical working basis upon which the mother may feed herself and her child. All denatured foods rob the body of minerals. All excess of acid foods rob the body of calcium and other bases. Fruits, green vegetables and nuts are best for the teeth.
Soft diets, which require no work of the teeth and jaws in chewing, aid in producing dental decay. No tooth can have adequate nutrition unless it is used. Mush-eating does not give the teeth proper exercise. Raw foods are best. A tough, fibrous diet not only gives the teeth and jaws needed exercise, but also cleans the teeth. The conventional, unnatural and highly refined, cooked diet leaves the mouth and teeth dirty.