Nutrition and dental health and decay
Introduction & overview
Perusing the relevant literature on the link between diet and dental health as well as doing some self-observation, there can be little doubt that indeed what one eats and drinks (and even what one's forebears and mother ate and drank!) as well as what one avoids (perhaps even more so) has a possibly essential bearing on the health of our body, including our dentition.
On tooth-protective nutrition: whole foods vs. processed and refined foods (Dr. Weston A. Price's research into diet and dental health and disease)
Perhaps the most frequently cited evidence for the effect of nutrition on dental (and other) health is the powerful testimony furnished by the work of eminent dental health researcher and dentist Dr. Weston A. Price DDS. More than half a century ago, Dr. Price traveled the world to carefully study the diets of over a dozen "primitive" peoples who still lived according to their traditions, i.e. had no access to Western civilization and the mixed "blessings" that come with it such as processed and refined foodstuffs.
While Dr. Price found that these peoples' diets did vary greatly, they had one characteristic in common, and that was that the food they ingested was in its largely natural state, i.e. neither refined nor deprived of any of its valuable components. What was perhaps even more astounding (at least to a Western-born person) is that these people also did not use toothbrushes, floss, and naturally no toothpaste or fluoridated water. With/without all this, Dr. Price's in-depth studies of these primitive peoples showed them to be virtually unaffected by tooth decay (and incidentally, they also hardly suffered from any of the degenerative diseases rampant among Westernized people, such as illnesses affecting the heart, joints, etc. Conversely, as repeatedly demonstrated, when the primitive diet is being abandoned in favour of one including sugar, white flour, canned foodstuffs etc., both tooth decay and various health issues start appearing rapidly.
So according to Dr. Price as well as other dentists such as Dr. George W. Heard (see Raw Organic Milk), for teeth to be healthy and/or maintain or regain a measure of health or functionality, they need to receive nutrition rich in minerals, trace elements, vitamins and various phytonutrients combined with the avoidance of all refined foodstuffs, especially sugar and white flour. The health-giving elements are particularly found in raw edibles, i.e. fresh and unprocessed food.
Dr. Weston A. Price published his findings in his book Nutrition & Physical Degeneration. Also see The important vitamin K2: Dr Weston A. Price's powerful dental caries healer Activator X.
Apparently, processed food can seriously damage teeth both from the "inside" and from the "outside", for example sugar
In this interview, George Meinig mentioned the following landmark research done on the effects of sugar on murine (rat) teeth by Dr. Ralph Steinman at Loma Linda University. Dr. Steinman injected rats with a glucose solution, i.e. he avoided having the glucose touch their teeth by directly injecting it into their bodies. When subsequently studying their teeth, he found something absolutely astonishing. Dr. Meinig relates:
The glucose reversed the normal flow of fluid in the dentin tubules1, resulting in all of the test animals developing severe tooth decay! Dr. Steinman demonstrated dramatically ... Dental caries [has a systemic cause].2
While animal experiments are far from reliable indicators of what works and what doesn't work for humans and Healing Teeth Naturally is a strong opponent of their use on both ethical and scientific grounds3, experiments such as this certainly give tremendous food for thought and if, as it seems in this case, they are applicable to humans, should make refined sugar rather "distasteful" for most anyone concerned about their teeth and general health.
For more on the important subject of teeth being nourished and/or depleted both from the "inside" and from the "outside", see Tooth remineralisation & demineralisation, saliva & pH, Teeth and Psychology and particularly Healing Teeth Naturally's detailed introduction to Dr. Steinman's discoveries at Dentinal fluid transport - revolutionary theory of natural caries resistance and cariogenesis.
1 Compare picture of dentin showing the dentinal tubules.
2 Details at Dentinal fluid transport - revolutionary theory of natural caries resistance and cariogenesis: Research by Drs. Steinman & Leonora posits the precedence of host resistance over bacteria as primary cause of tooth decay.
Also compare the partially similar but also conflicting rich additional data presented in the must-read Book extract: Dr. Herbert Shelton on the real reasons for tooth decay [caries].
3 For the reasons compare for instance Animal Experimentation Unscientific.