Diet in Relation to Dental Caries
Friday, March 31, 2017
February 16, 2016 By Sally Fallon Morell
In this fascinating article, E V McCollum, a leading scientist of his day, sought to determine the cause of tooth decay. He notes that vitamins A and D help build strong enamel and teeth, and may provide certain immune factors, facts which he tries to meld with the theory that bacteria present in the mouth are the cause of decay. The description of the diet for diabetics is especially interesting -- in the days before insulin, the only way to treat diabetes was with a high-fat diet -- and this diet also protected these patients against tooth decay. McCollum prescribes such a diet as a sure way to prevent cavities, not because the high-fat diet provides protective vitamins, but because fats "coat the teeth" and thus protect them against bacteria! He also asserts, without evidence, that chewing helps strengthen the teeth. The article provides a good example of how even leading scientists have difficulty determining cause and effect. McCollum was a contemporary of Dr. Price. The article was published in Nature, January 25, 1941, Volume 147, pages 104-108.
The carious lesion in a tooth is caused by acid decomposition of the enamel, and afterwards the dentine, associated with proteolytic destruction of the organic substance of the tooth. Caries of the teeth is restricted to man and other animals which eat liberally of carbohydrate-containing foods. Carnivorous man and animals do not suffer from this disease. Dental caries does not attack the surfaces of teeth indiscriminately, but occurs only at such sites as favour the lodgment of food residues, as in pits or fissures, or on surfaces of the enamel which harbor mucinous plaques. In such sites acid is formed by fermentation of carbohydrate by micro-organisms, and is protected against being washed away by saliva or by neutralization by salivary alkalinity. ...
The food should always supply certain things which require vigorous chewing, since teeth which are not exercised do not retain optimum health. Every meal should end with some food such as raw fruit or a raw vegetable, which requires thorough mastication, both because of the exercise afforded the teeth, and for the detergent effect of chewing foods which do not have a tendency to adhere to the enamel surface