Long before vitamins or focal infections were heard of, the relationship of the teeth to general health and effectiveness was appreciated in a general way. Toothaches used to be as inevitable as colds; and prior to purchasing, slave buyers and horse traders inspected the teeth of their potential purchases. But attention has only been given to the care and preservation of teeth in recent times.Learn more about us at North Scottsdale Dentistry
Dental Caries Dental Caries
Early studies of the cause and prevention of dental caries indicated that a single causative factor may exist, but further results show that the problem is a complex one, with the greatest importance of diet, inheritance, internal secretions, mechanical factors, and oral hygiene.
Dental Caries and Diet
There is now general agreement that diet probably is the most important single factor in the maintenance of sound, healthy teeth, and that an adequate diet is most essential during the period of most rapid growth. McCullum and Simmonds conclude from an experimental study that rats which are kept on a deficient diet during a part of the growing period have inferior teeth and early decay, even though an adequate diet is provided later.
Although admittedly important is diet, there does not seem to be any single dietary factor responsible for dental caries. It is clearly essential to have calcium and phosphorus, the two minerals found in the bones and teeth, and vitamin D, which regulates the body’s use of these minerals. Calcium and vitamin D were first considered to be of the greatest importance, but more recent work seems to indicate that phosphorus is as important as calcium, if not more important.
Due to the belief that sugar is related to dental decay, children have long been denied candy, and certain studies conducted in institutions for orphans where the diet is strictly controlled indicate that the prevalence of dental caries is directly related to the amount of carbohydrate in the diet.
Divergent views regarding the relationship between diet and dental health leave one rather confused. Apparently no one dietary factor is responsible for resistance to caries, but various elements are necessary for the proper development and continuing soundness of the teeth.
It is also claimed that “a clean tooth never decays.” Whether this is valid or not depends on the cleanliness concept. The argument is presumably right if cleanliness means freedom from bacteria. Yet it is difficult to have bacteriologically clean teeth with bacteria continuously present in the mouth and in the food we consume.
The decay process is by the action of acids formed by the decomposition of food by bacteria, first on the enamel and then on the tooth’s weaker dentine. In every crevice, irregularity, or crack in the enamel, the action of this acid on the tooth structure will start. When there are gross accumulations of food compounds, the volume of decomposition and acid production is highest.
Recent studies of the bacteria present in the mouth have offered some clarity on this part of the issue. If a certain germ called Lactobacillus acidophilus occurs with great pace in the quantity of caries that form. This is because, on and around the teeth, these bacteria work on carbohydrates, particularly sugars, to form acids that dissolve the enamel and dentine. Ses studies have also shown that the removal of sugars and other readily fermentable carbohydrates from the diet can reduce the amount of caries when people have an excessive number of lactobacilli in their mouths.