Dental Decay

Written by Hal A. Huggins, DDS, MS

My teeth decay although I brush
With a toothbrush hard or soft as mush
With fluoride paste or salt and soda
My progress is around iota
Those TV ads, my dentist's scolding
It's still his bill that I'm left holding
Some day I hope to find the truth
Without performing something uncouth.

Historically dental decay has confounded observers for centuries. At first it was thought that there were tooth worms. Next it was the hardness of the enamel theory. Later it was determined that the "acid attack" on the enamel brought about by decaying food was the culprit. Then bacteria took over the role. In a few years a different bacteria took over. It took the work of Dr. Ralph Steinman of Loma Linda University in California to finally determine the origin of dental decay. He published his findings from 1958 throughout the 60's, and into the 70's. It was scientific, but not parallel with the tooth worm or acid attack or bacterial theories, so, was accepted, but not widely publicized.

It is quite simple in concept though. Dental decay is a "systemic disease". In rats, a good laboratory example of the same mechanisms that humans use for decay production, Steinman found that he could alter the diet and alter the amount of decay in a perfect parallel. He could feed the diet as food they ate, or feed the rats through a stomach tube so that food never touched their teeth. Results were the same either way. What they ingested controlled the amount of decay they generated.

What happens is that a tooth is a living structure? It needs nutrient supplied on a daily basis just like any other tissue in the body in order to maintain good, decay-free health. Using radioactive acriflavine hydrochloride, Steinman made injections into the rats and was able to trace the radioactive substance from the injection site, into the blood stream, into the pulp canal of the tooth, through the dentinal tubules (little tiny garden hoses that are 3 1/2 microns in diameter that comprise the solid substance of the dentin), through the enamel rods (tiny tubes in the enamel), clear out into the mouth in a period of approximately one hour.

This trip took place in healthy rats that maintained relative freedom from decay. When fed a decay producing diet, the fluid flow reversed. Fluids flowed from the surface of the tooth, through the enamel (bringing bacteria and debris along with it), through the dentin, and into the pulp chamber. These rats experienced lots of decay. This flow could be turned one way or the other just by altering the diet. What was diet doing?

The foods were controlling the endocrine system. Steinman and endocrinologist Dr. Leonora were the first to isolate, purify and crystallize a hormone called "parotid hormone". Any guesses why they named it parotid hormone? Yes, it is manufactured in the parotid gland. When this hormone was produced in adequate amounts (influenced by a proper diet), the fluid flow ran from the pulp chamber, bringing nutrients into all parts of the tooth, ran through the dentin, the enamel and into the mouth. When foods inhibitory to the endocrine system (sugars and refined carbohydrates mainly), the fluid flow dragging sludge from the saliva into the tooth where a chemical breakdown took place. He also noted that decay always extended farther than X-rays might indicate.

There are ways of determining your "ancestral diet", or those foods that your ancestors ate for 2000 years. When you are on your ancestral diet, your tendency for decay is greatly reduced. There are certain foods that are universally decay producing. Candy and soft drinks are obvious ones, and now we know that this is due to the sugar upsetting your endocrine system. It is well to brush your teeth and keep the surfaces free from debris, but recall, this is not eliminating the cause of decay. Remember the stomach tubes. The rats did not brush, but there was nothing on the teeth to brush off either. They still got decay.

Several questions arise. Is the health of the mouth really the barometer of the body's health? Does eating the wrong foods affect all endocrine glands, or just parotid hormone production? Are all the body parts connected biochemically? What role does fluoride play in decay control? In Steinman's nearly 100 publications he addressed all these questions and more.

Hal A. Huggins DDS, MS, is a leading pioneer and the world's foremost authority in identifying toxic dental materials, balancing body chemistry and developing a multi-disciplined approach to reversing autoimmune diseases.

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