Book Review: Cure Tooth Decay
Heal and Prevent Cavities with Nutrition by Ramiel Nagel, Golden Child Publishing 2009
This book is written by a natural healthcare oriented parent who was alarmed when his daughter's teeth began to decay in spite of what he considered at the time to be a healthy diet. When informed that she would require extractions under a general anaesthetic, he became motivated to find a better way of addressing the common problem of dental decay.
During his search for answers he was also told that he too had developed four new cavities and what started as personal enquiry subsequently grew into a mission to change the faulty paradigms of current dental practice.
He says that whilst people historically used to blame 'evil spirits' for their health woes, that courtesy of Louis Pasteur and his germ theory, this has now been replaced by what we consider to be the more 'enlightened' concept of bacterial invasion.
However, both doctrines lead us to believe that we are helpless victims of capricious circumstance. As a result we have given power over our general health away to physicians and power over our dental and oral health away to the dental profession when the cures lie within our own hands.
His enquiries led him to research the decades old work of Dr Weston Price DDS and Dr Melvin Page MD amongst others and to reinstate their findings.
Dental disease: The story so far
The currently accepted theory of the advance of dental decay as taught in dental schools and propounded by the dental associations is shown below. Essentially, the concept is that the teeth are attacked by a combination of bacteria and sticky foodstuffs from which the bacteria make acids that dissolve the minerals in the tooth structure. The process can progress until the pulp inside the tooth becomes irreversibly inflamed necessitating a root filling and crown or extraction.
Surface bacteria and sugars produce acids which leach out the minerals in the enamel. Accepted treatment at this stage may involve minimal intervention and sealing of the remaining fissures on the biting surface of the tooth.
The decay progresses through the enamel and breaks through into the inner dentine of the tooth. Intervention at this stage may involve a shallow filling and sealing of the remaining fissures.
The bacteria and their acids spread within the dentine destroying the tooth structure. Intercepted at this stage a deep filling may suffice.
The destruction continues with the bacteria eventually invading the pulp within the tooth. Treatment would involve a root canal filling and protective overlay/onlay or crown or extraction.
The pulp of the tooth dies and an abscess forms. At this stage the tooth requires a root filling, post and crown or extraction.
CURRENTLY ACCEPTED VERSION: THE ADVANCE OF DENTAL CARIES
Gum disease too, is thought to be caused by bacterial attack on the gum/tooth interface slowly destroying the periodontal membrane and the alveolar bone which supports the teeth.
There are some fundamental problems with this story however.
First, sugar is used as a preservative in jellies and jams and other products precisely because it kills bacteria and prevents their multiplication in such foodstuffs. Part of the reason historically for the refining of foods such as wheat to produce white flour was also precisely because it prevented the growth of weevils, bacteria and fungi thus producing food with a long shelf-life. In contrast, meat, fish, vegetables and fruit are living foods which are very vulnerable to bacterial decay.
In light of the currently held paradigms of dental disease, the dental profession encourages us to brush, floss and rinse with antiseptic mouthwashes, not to snack and to avoid sugary foodstuffs. However, decay is almost universal in the developed world with practically everyone affected to a greater or lesser extent and the bacteria that cause decay are present almost universally in everyone's mouth.
The author points out that our current approach to prevention and treatment patently isn't working since in the US by the age of 60 nearly two-thirds of teeth have been affected by decay according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
Indigenous people eating a natural diet frequently have teeth and gums coated with a film of food and bacteria that they make little to no effort to remove. And yet, these people are not vulnerable to tooth decay or gum disease because bacteria cannot live in a healthy ecosystem.
What the author maintains is that there are, in fact, many different kinds of tooth decay each with their own characteristic pattern affecting particular locations on specific teeth. Currently, all dental treatment is temporary symptom management and as such is 100% ineffective at dealing with the causes of dental disease.
The analogy Ramiel Nagel offers is to consider that the tooth is like a rotting orange. First, one patch of decay appears and is duly excavated and filled. Then another and another until there is more replacement filling material than orange. Then, when the usefulness of that approach is exhausted, the orange is cored out and a replica orange made and stuck over the top.
As a dentist, I can confirm that the best dental treatment is no dental treatment (and no need for dental treatment) and that as good as our restorative materials may be nothing will ever be as good a filling material as sound tooth structure.
In order to understand both the potential for repairing teeth and the alternative theory of tooth decay it helps to understand a little about the way teeth form and tooth structure.
In the embryo, specialised membranes form buds which then conform to the shapes of the teeth. These membranes have cells on the inner surface known as ameloblasts which migrate depositing enamel in their wake and cells on their outer surface known as odontoblasts which migrate depositing tubular dentine.
The roots of the teeth grow later as the teeth erupt into the mouth. Once tooth formation is complete, the odontoblasts remain in the inner pulp of the tooth along with nerves and blood and lymph vessels.
Each odontoblast sits within the dentinal tubule it has formed and has a process extending some or most of the thickness of the dentine. Allopathic dentistry maintains that these odontoblasts are inactive cells remaining from the formation of the dentine and thereafter serve no useful purpose. The dentinal tubules are known to be filled with a fluid similar to cerebrospinal fluid.
Appoximately 70% of dentine consists of the mineral hydroxyapatite, 20% is an organic matrix (mostly collagen) and 10% is water. Whereas enamel is 96% inorganic with only 2% fluid. As in bone which is known to be dynamic, the odontoblasts form dentine and cells known as odontoclasts resorb dentine. These cells are activated when the roots of the baby teeth are resorbed in order to allow for the eruption of the adult teeth.
SECTION OF A MOLAR TOOTH
The work of Dr Weston Price
Dr Weston Price was a prominent dentist with a strong interest in nutrition who travelled the world cataloguing dental conditions. He witnessed and documented the changeover in many indigenous communities from their traditional diets to the modern Western diet in the 1930s.
He maintains that teeth decay for two reasons. The first is that we are not consuming enough nutrients to synthesise new tooth tissue and the second is that if deficient in calcium or phosphorous, the body will take these from the tooth for critical functions in organs such as the brain and heart.
Viewed from this perspective, dental decay is intimately associated with physical degeneration and this explains the increasing incidence of tooth decay with age. Physical degeneration is the result of a lifetime of assaulting our bodies with unhealthy and toxic food and drink, pharmaceutical and recreational drugs, vaccinations, IUDs, environmental pollutants and stress.
Although Dr Price studied many indigenous people throughout the world, three particular examples illustrate the issue.
The first of these were the people of the Loetschental valley in the Swiss Alps. These people lived on a diet of rye breads, cheese and milk from grass fed cows, vegetables, barley and some meats. In 1931 these people were so robustly healthy that they had no doctor or dentist because there was no need for them.
In contrast, their Swiss cousins who had adopted the modern Western diet of white flour, marmalade, canned vegetables and fruits showed marked dental and physical degeneration.
Another example is that of the inhabitants of the remote Scottish islands, the Outer Hebrides. Traditionally these people had lived on a diet rich in oatmeal, fish and some dairy products. He recorded examples of two brothers one of whom had adopted the modern Western diet and one who had continued to eat the traditional fare and the difference in their dental status is pitifully apparent for all to see.
The third example is that of the Australian aborigines. Those he found living the native life eating a hunter gatherer diet of roots, stems, leaves, berries, seeds, meat and organ meat, insects, grubs and bird's eggs had absolutely no dental decay whatsoever when he documented their status in the 1930s. However, those that were living on reservations eating the diet of the settlers had an average decay rate of 71%.
These observations mean that tooth decay has an entirely environmental rather than genetic cause.
The other striking difference Dr Price noted was that the dental arches of all the indigenous people eating their native diet were broad and housed the full quota of 32 adult teeth. In contrast, the mouths of most people eating a Western diet typically cannot accommodate their four wisdom teeth (if present) and many also require extraction of four premolar/bicupsid teeth to create space for orthodontic alignment of crowded arches.
This dramatic shrinking of the jaws has not happened gradually over hundreds of generations as many suppose, but occurs in just one generation if the mother is eating the typical Western diet whilst pregnant. So that the degeneration he witnessed was both fantastic and rapid.
One example Dr Price documented was that of a Hebridean grandfather and his young granddaughter. Whilst the grandfather had well formed, robust jaws those of his granddaughter had shrunk to the point that she was obliged to breathe through her mouth as the entire mid-section of her face was so poorly developed.
So whilst all these indigenous people that he studied ate vastly different diets, the uniting features were that they all ate:
The flesh and organs of fish, shellfish and land animals and these were occasionally raw
Dairy products if eaten, were raw and from grass fed animals and
Grains, if eaten, were unprocessed.
In all, Dr Price estimated that the native diets contained at least 10 times more fat soluble vitamins and approximately 4 times the calcium and phosphorous of the modern diet. In particular, he identified a substance he called Activator X present in these foods which helps our bodies to utilise minerals. It is almost impossible to meet the minimum standards for nutrient intake of vitamin D too from the modern diet. After all, we choose not to eat fish heads, liver, heart, bone marrow and blood!
Dr Weston Price managed to achieve a 95% reduction in dental decay and reduced oral lactic acid colonies by a factor of 20 by making changes to the diet of the communities he documented. He did this by encouraging them to avoid all refined and sweet foods, to eat grains only freshly ground or sprouted, to eat the organs of sea foods and land animals and to supplement cod liver oils.
Tooth decay: The alternative explanation
Dr Melvin Page was a dentist who made an intense study of the processes of decay along with the anthropologist, Dr Leon Abram. The patterns of dental decay they witnessed coincided with changes in glandular function brought about by changes in the diet and environmental factors.
They found after a 30 year study and 40,000 blood samples that a 25% or more deviance in blood tests was associated with tooth decay and that gum disease was caused by a disturbance in the calcium : phosphorous ratio in the blood.
It was a shortage of these minerals which led to calcium and phosphorous being withdrawn from the dentine which caused dental decay and from the bone which caused gum disease. Those with high dietary intakes of phosphorus were shown to be immune to tooth decay.
They maintained that the bacterial invasion common to both dental caries and periodontal disease was secondary to the immune defences becoming compromised and that dental disease was fundamentally a nutritional deficiency.
Dr Ralph Steinman MD found that there is a constant microscopic flow of fluid within teeth that originates near the intestinal area and which flows outward through the tooth. This dentinal fluid circulates and performs the function of flushing toxins from the the tooth structure and also providing nutrients for the tooth matrix. It also serves to repel microbial adhesion to the tooth surface preventing tooth decay and gum disease.
Under certain dietary conditions this fluid flow can become reversed and this means that not only are microbes not flushed from the tooth surface, but that bacteria are actively drawn into the tooth. The tooth undergoes oxidative damage and the loss of minerals such as magnesium, copper, iron and manganese. With this reversal in fluid flows, the pulps of the teeth also start to become inflamed.
This means that tooth decay is really the dental equivalent of osteoporosis ie: odontoporosis - a decrease in tooth density combined with odontoclasia which is the absorption and destruction of tooth tissue by the odontoclasts within the teeth. In health, the dentinal fluids deliver minerals and nutrients for constant rebuilding and maintenance of tooth structure. But when this mechanism is disrupted, salivary enzymes begin to digest tooth structure and the bacteria proliferate in response to dying tissue. This means that tooth decay starts from within the tooth as a result of vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Both dentine and enamel are ultimately formed from blood and the suggestion is that hydroxyapatite crystals dynamically migrate from the pulp down the dentinal tubules to regenerate and repair enamel in much the same way as fingernails grow from the nail bed.
Tooth decay: Nutritional medicine
The nutritional plan outlined in the book includes consuming a primitive diet of meat, organ meats, fish, eggs, vegetables, whole grains, fresh fruit, butter, cream, lard, raw unpasteurised milk and unheated honey and cutting out all refined foods and sugar. It can take a year or more on this diet to rectify the underlying glandular dysfunctions which underscore dental disease.
The dietary constraints demanded are more than many could or would be willing to undertake, but if you truly want to take control of not only your dental - but also your physical health - following the advice offered in this book is a good place to start.
Click to watch Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of Ramiel Nagel on Cure Tooth Decay and Cavities or to listen to his podcasts on the subject go to Mercury & Toxicity listed in the Audio Hub. To buy the book and for more information go to www.curetoothdecay.com