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.

About 80 years 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 grown on depleted and/or imbalanced soils.

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 person raised in the West) 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 was being abandoned in favour of one including sugar, white flour, canned foodstuffs etc., both tooth decay and various health issues started 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 "power" 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 un- or hardly processed food, i.e. food where none of the valuable components have been removed.

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 cavity healer Activator X.

Apparently, processed food can seriously damage teeth both from the "inside" and from the "outside", for example sugar

George Meinig, D.D.S., author of Root Canal Cover-Up, said in an interview "Root Canals Pose Health Threat" that the only scientific way to prevent tooth decay was via diet and nutrition.

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 tubules[1], resulting in all of the test animals developing severe tooth decay! Dr. Steinman demonstrated dramatically ... Dental [cavities have 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 grounds[3], 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.[4]

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.

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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 Dr. Herbert Shelton on the true causes of tooth decay.

3 For the reasons compare for instance Animal Experimentation Unscientific.

4 Also compare Sugar’s Health Effects, Risks & Problems: Is Sugar Sweet Poison? 146 Reasons Why Sugar Is Ruining Your Health.
Also see sugar replacements, particularly xylitol which actively combats bacteria involved in tooth decay.

All Healing Teeth Naturally articles on nutrition and dental health