It is a common misconception that we are more healthy than our great grandparents due to progress in the medical profession. For example, the epidemic of tooth decay (the most prevalent form of all human diseases) is relatively recent and is a clear indication of our physical degeneration.

A few facts:

  • In the U.S., where we have nearly 100,000 dentists and pay them $4 billion a year to help fight dental disease, 24 out of 25 American children have tooth decay before they are six years old.
  • About 98% of Americans have suffered or will suffer from dental disease. This is also true of other nations that eat the same food we do.
  • 25 million living Americans have no teeth left.
  • 90% of those who live till 60 do not have any teeth.
  • The average American loses from 6 to 10 teeth because of cavities and loses the rest to gum disease.
  • More money is spent on dental disease than any other disease. (In 1971, $400 million was spent on toothpaste and $120 million on toothbrushes.)

You can prolong the life of your teeth through the symptomatic treatment of modern technology, which is certainly better than being left with no teeth at all. But this method fails to get at the root of the problem — hygiene and dietary habits.

Decay requires germs, food and teeth. More germs are normally found in a man’s mouth than in any other part of his body. The germs causing tooth decay do not need oxygen to survive, so even when hidden in pockets where there is no air, they can multiply. Germs can cause a healthy mouth to become diseased when we do not keep our mouths clean. This gives the germs the food they need to tremendously increase their numbers. They can then make more acid than the spit in your mouth can neutralize. When this happens, the germs can penetrate man’s natural defenses — the skin of the mouth (causing gum disease), or the enamel of the tooth (causing tooth decay). The enamel of your teeth is the hardest substance of your body, but this acid has no trouble dissolving it. Once tooth or gum disease gets started, you give the germs another source of fresh food — you!

The dentin (inside the tooth) is not nearly as hard as the enamel outside and the acid can more readily dissolve it. You can stop any new decay from occurring by regular brushing and flossing, but since the hole made by the acid is too small for the brush to get in, the germs eat away twenty-four hours a day. Once the germs have dissolved the tooth enamel, you have gone past the point of home care prevention. A visit to the dentist is now necessary. And the longer you wait the more it will cost you.

In a recent issue of East-West Journal, Leonard Jacobs wrote, “Contrary to popular belief, the bacteria that cause decay in the mouth not only arise from food particles stuck between the teeth, but also proliferate as a result of degeneration in the structure of your teeth. This proliferation is made possible by the leeching of minerals in our body, which is caused by overconsumption of refined sugars and chemicalised salt.” Drinking too much water also removes minerals from the teeth.

Sugar in its refined form causes an acid condition, for there is no chance for it to be broken down slowly and alkalized. An acid condition uses up the body’s minerals quickly, and this inevitably causes a severe loss of calcium which in turn causes tooth decay. Foods which contain relatively large amounts of calcium such as dark leafy green vegetables are helpful in revitalizing teeth and gums. Dandelion, chickweed, spiderwort, mugwort, plantain and seaweed are also organic sources of calcium.

According to Jacobs, “Even if you have eliminated sugar and excess salt from your diet you still may have dental problems for several years. It takes a long time to revitalize the skeletal structure; bones and teeth contain a reserve of all the junk foods we have eaten throughout our lifetime, so you may occasionally have tooth decay as your body discharges its past excesses.”

Plaque, the foundation upon which tartar (calculus) forms, is the fuel for almost all dental disease. Plaque is generally thought to be a combination of dead skin cells from the inside of our mouths and sugars called dextrans formed by our mouths from our food and saliva. These substances provide food for colonies of bacteria that thrive in our mouths. Within one to three days, it becomes hard enough that you can no longer scrape it off. Smoking anything, plus eating refined and processed foods, will cause you to form more tartar at a faster rate. According to the macrobiotic philosophy espoused by Jacobs, plaque “. . . originates from the excess proteins and fats found in the modern diet of heavy meat consumption. It is deposited in the mouth from saliva which takes excess proteins and fats from the blood stream of a person who eats animal food to excess. The body attempts to discharge this excess externally in the form of callouses on the feet, body hair of the torso, and plaque in the mouth. Eventually, as you eat a traditional diet, you should not have any problem with plaque, but as long as your body is eliminating its stored excess, you will get a build-up of plaque. If you eliminate animal foods and refined sugars from your diet, the build-up of plaque on your teeth will gradually be reduced, but it will probably still be necessary to get your teeth cleaned periodically for some time.”

All tooth decay is related to diet and hygiene. When man’s diet in his early history was natural and balanced, he is believed to have had no tooth decay and little or no other dental disease. When man began processing and refining his food, he created tooth decay. Thus, the ideal diet would be the one that early man is thought to have subsisted on, namely raw fruits and vegetables, with a minimum of cooked foods.

Raw fruits and vegetables are natural cleansers of teeth and massagers of gums because of their abrasiveness and fibrous nature. This value is lost if the fruit or vegetables are excessively cooked or canned, since the fibrous nature is destroyed. Furthermore, these foods do not cause decay. Even the natural sugars found in many fruits are not harmful to the teeth, since the sugar molecules are too large to be eaten by the decay-causing germs. However, if the food is left in the mouth for several days, the enzymes can break it down to an edible size.

If more care were given to diet, and good oral hygiene habits, there would be no need to fluoridate city water supplies, a controversial issue at best. Fluorine, the parent element of fluoride, is found in every plant and animal. It is believed necessary for a healthy body and can make your teeth more resistant to the acid that helps cause tooth decay. Americans consume 0.2 to 0.3 milligrams of fluoride daily, not including fluoridated water. The amount of fluoride the body needs is so small and so easy to get from natural sources, that fluoride deficiency is almost an impossibility. Fluoride does nothing to prevent gum disease, and 4 out of 5 teeth are pulled for this reason. Furthermore, the exchange of the fluorine atom with the phosphate atom, to make teeth more resistant to decay, cannot take place after the teeth are formed in young adults. Thus, the positive value of fluoride diminishes as we get older.

The U.S. Public Health Service recommends that the fluoride content of water supplies range from 1.0 to 1.5 parts per million (1-5 milligrams). This is supposed to be the maximum amount necessary to increase the tooth’s resistance to decay and not cause negative side effects. In some areas of the U.S., fluoride is found naturally in water supplies in concentrations ranging from 2 to 13 ppm (3-18 milligrams). If, at the suggestion of your doctor or dentist, you are giving your child fluoride tablets or vitamins with fluoride added, you should find out how much fluoride is contained in them. If your city water supply is fluoridated, add the two amounts. And since 2-3 milligrams of fluoride is found in the average diet, this must be considered too. Compare the total to the recommended daily dosage. Taking 2.0 to 10.0 ppm fluoride daily during the formative years of early childhood will result in unsightly mottling of the teeth, but reduced decay. A fluoride compound very similar to the one used to fluoridate water supplies is commercially sold in higher concentration as rat poison. Though fluoride can be both safe and beneficial when taken in small trace amounts from natural sources, it is harmful enough in larger doses to cause death.

Lately, a preventative method called “blotting” has received attention. Blotting, a technique to remove plaque, was developed by a Wisconsin dentist, Dr. Joseph Phillips, thirty years ago. Its proponents promise that cavities, bleeding gums, and eventual loss of teeth no longer have to be a fact of life. According to a colleague of Phillips, Dr. James Shipley, “Without dental plaque, anyone can expect to have no dental disease.” He claims that blotting is the only dental hygiene technique that removes plaque rather than just moving it around. Shipley said, “Unless you notice a buildup of stains, you need never brush again — as long as you blot, of course.” The blotting technique itself is based on capillary action, the principle at work when a sponge soaks up spilled milk, or when paint is allowed to be drawn up into the bristles of a brush.

A soft-bristled toothbrush is used. Each bristle is frayed on the end and the bristles are more numerous than in an ordinary brush. No toothpaste is used and no water. Shipley claims that the partially dry brush is most effective because it encourages capillary action which will pull dental plaque material up into the brush. The plaque is sucked off the brush and swallowed, which is also healthy since saliva is beneficial as a natural stomach acid buffering agent and lubricant.

Blotting is only part of the complete mouth hygiene taught by Shipley. Ten minutes each morning and evening will end dental disease or stop any already in progress, he says, but the more blotting the better. The most unique aspect of the technique is that it’s portable; it can be done while reading, watching television, or, as Shipley does, driving to work.

Some claim that the technique is too new to be advocated on a broad scale, while others feel that Phillips and Shipley are simply trying to push their special tooth brushes and home study course on blotting. Their book and four Deluxe Blotting Units (brushes with caps) cost $15 and can be ordered from James H. Shipley, D.D.S., 6641 University Ave., Middleton, WI 53562.

Raw Deal

The sugar crystal that emerges from the centrifuge has a light brown color, and is known as “raw” sugar. This is the sugar that enters the final purification process in US refineries. According to the sugar act of 1948 this raw sugar must be at least 96% sucrose.

“Raw,” “turbinado,” or “yellow-D” sugar is hardly more nutritious than white sugar; it is still 96% sucrose, compared with the 99.9% sucrose count in white sugar. If a man strips off all his clothing except his socks you could argue that he was still dressed, and you might win on a technicality. Likewise raw sugar is, by a technicality, raw sugar. Yet no distributor of raw sugar makes any claim that his product is more nutritious than white sugar. Brown sugar is not much different; it is white sugar to which a small amount of molasses has been added for coloring.

— from “Talking Food,”
Laurelbrook Foods