Tooth Decay Is A Systemic Disease

Dental caries is a widespread problem. It is well known that poor diet and bacteria ( dental plaque ) have a significant role to play in dental caries. What is not well known is that dentinal fluid transport ( DFT ) plays an even more crucial role in tooth decay. See PDF file of a study on DFT and the incidence of dental decay.

Drs. Ralph Steinman and John Leonora of Loma Linda University have proven the effects of DFT on dental caries resistance. A new book, Dentinal Fluid Transport, has just been published.

A tooth is a living structure. It needs nutrients supplied on a daily basis just like any other tissue in the body in order to maintain good, decay -free health and the tooth relies heavily on DFT for it's nutritional requirements. In rats Steinman made injections of a radioactive tracer called acriflavine hydrochloride. In well fed healthy rats he 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 dentine), through the enamel rods (tiny tubes in the enamel), clear out into the mouth in a period of approximately one hour. But 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 dentine, 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. 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 was the diet doing ?


The foods were controlling the endocrine system. Dr. Ralph Steinman and endocrinologist Dr. Leonora were the first to isolate, purify and crystallize a hormone called "parotid hormone" which 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 dentine, 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 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.

Click on "foods were controlling the endocrine system" to find out more about how cariogenic diets (diets rich in carbohydrates) and lack of antioxidants play a key role in tooth decay.

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