By Michael G. Rehme, DDS, CCN
Although the heading seems to state the obvious, you might find this article quite interesting as we uncover the underlying events that actually occur to our teeth when our diets become compromised. Poor diets eventually invite a decaying process to develop within the oral cavity.
Not eating properly, and following the Standard American Diet (SAD), promotes a condition within the body that usually produces a more acidic environment.
Studies show that the average person in the United States, on an annual basis, consumes approximately 2100 lbs. of acid forming foods compared to 380 lbs of alkaline forming foods. This is not an exaggerated statistic.
This unfortunate imbalance in our diets can certainly have a devastating effect on our health. It contributes to our plethora of chronic illnesses and degenerative diseases.
What’s happening to our teeth during this process? A review of literature by Ralph Steinman, DDS, Loma Linda University, shows that the metabolism of teeth, and the overall oral cavity, are extensions of the overall metabolism of the human body.
The occurrence of tooth decay, abscessed teeth, and even dental sensitivities are not primarily due to external contamination of the teeth through acid producing foods and bacteria. These deteriorating conditions occur from the internal effects of our bodies’ acidic environment. The acidic environment produces a change in the internal action of the fluids flowing within the teeth.
Teeth are not solid. They consist of a series of dentin tubules and parallel enamel rods. In a healthy situation, fluids from within the tooth travel from the inside-out, that is, through the dentin, through the enamel and into the mouth. This is thought to be a self- cleansing mechanism. This constant flushing of the tooth structure prevents the movement of microbes into the tooth and the destructive effects of acids formed by foods.
Major problems occur when hormonal imbalances, circulatory problems, or poor diet lead to a reverse fluid flow within the dentin tubules. A reverse flow “sucks” bacteria, acids, and other materials from the mouth or surrounding periodontium back into the tooth. Reverse fluid flow triggers a compromised condition otherwise known as decay, infection, or simply tooth pain.
As part of the decaying process, Dr. Steinman identified the early loss of magnesium, copper, iron and manganese. These minerals are all active in cellular oxidation. They’re necessary for the energy production that allows the cleansing flow through the dentin tubules. He also notes that the addition of copper, iron, and manganese to the decay producing diet almost abolished the decay rate.
Once again, I refer back to the importance of a healthy diet to bail us out of these “sticky” situations. Remember to balance your body chemistry by eating properly. Nutritional supplements to your diet may provide optimal results.
In our office, we measure saliva pH as an indicator of dental health as well as the body’s overall wellness. We check the saliva pH every 6 months when our patients visit us for their scheduled cleaning appointment. A pH reading of 7.0 (neutral) is good. However, 7.5 (slightly alkaline) is the best. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen any decay when I see a measurement of 7.5. When I see consistent readings of 6.5 and lower, the body’s “internal environment” is compromised and the conditions are usually ripe for decay and inflammation within the oral cavity.
You can find pH paper at your local health food stores. Or call our office and we can provide you with a packet of this paper.