Article #2: Natural Hygiene – Your Key to Dental Health by Mike Benton
Over 98% of the U.S. population suffers from dental diseases.
By the age of sixty, nine out of ten people will not have any teeth of their own. Already more than 32 million Americans are toothless.
Over one billion cavities need filling in this country alone each year.
The total amount of money spent by Americans on dental problems is staggering. We have over 140,000 dentists in this country, pay them over six billion dollars a year, and yet 24 out of 25 American children suffer from dental diseases before they are six years old.
Is this normal? Is this natural?
In a region of the world known as Hunzaland, dental disease doesn’t exist. Not a single dentist lives there. The people there use no toothpaste, no toothbrushes, and receive no Fluoride treatments. The old folks keep their teeth all their life. Dentures are a curiosity. The children have perfect teeth and healthy gums. The babies suffer no pain or irritation when teething. Sweets, candy, ice cream, and soft drinks are not ingested. Their diet is chiefly fresh raw fruits and vegetables.
Is there a connection? What do you think?
The Whole Tooth and Nothing But. . .
“Teeth are vital parts of the human body,” wrote Dr. Fred D. Miller, a dentist of over fifty years, “and they are nourished by the same bloodstream that nourishes the rest of the body. Good dental health is dependent upon good bodily health and vice versa. The mouth is the barometer of the body’s general well-being.”
Degenerative diseases, poor living habits, improper diet—all are reflected in the health of the teeth and the gums.
An amazing study was done by Dr. Weston Price about fifty years ago. He was a dentist who traveled the world over to investigate the relationship between diet and dental health. What he discovered was that as long as people ate their natural diet of unprocessed and unrefined foods, they enjoyed sound teeth and healthy gums.
Whenever the modern foods of civilization—refined grains, sugars, junk foods, preserved foods, etc.—were introduced, the teeth of the people rotted, their gums became diseased and the actual shape of their mouths changed.
Diet Does It!
“I believe the ideal diet, guaranteed not to cause decay,” wrote Dr. Thomas McGuire, a dental researcher, “consists of raw vegetables and fruits.” Dental problems do not occur on such a diet for three reasons:
- When foods are eaten raw, unprocessed and unrefined, food particles that may remain in the mouth do not undergo fermentation. This fermentation, while not actually contributing to tooth decay, can lead to a buildup of harmful materials around the teeth and gums. Living foods—raw foods—do not ferment; dead foods—cooked foods—quickly decay when left in the mouth.
- Raw foods are naturally fibrous. The fiber in raw foods require chewing and thereby give the teeth and gums beneficial exercise. Circulation is improved around the mouth area when naturally fibrous foods are chewed. The fiber also aids in the removal of food particles from the teeth and gums. After all, if the teeth and gums are not exercised by working on fibrous foods, the result is the same as when any part of the body is denied exercise. For a child, this loss of jaw exercise contributes to a crowded, underdeveloped mouth and crooked teeth.
- Most importantly, minerals and other nutrients required by the body for healthy teeth (and health in general!) coexist in balanced amounts within natural, raw foods. Processed and refined foods, cooked foods, “junk” foods—all are minerally unbalanced and this is the principle reason for tooth decay: a mineral unbalance.
The Important Mineral Balance
Tooth decay does not occur if the calcium and phosphorus minerals are in proper balance in the body, along with other needed nutrients. The teeth are made primarily of calcium, and phosphorus is needed in specific amounts to help use this calcium. If too much phosphorus is present in the diet, or if the foods eaten are high in acidic residues, then a calcium loss can occur in the body and weaken the teeth.
Some of the worst high phosphorus foods are meat and grains. People on a grain-based diet or a high-meat diet often exhibit a large amount of dental decay. Carnivores who eat both the organ meat and bone marrow of their prey get a correct balance of phosphorus and calcium since the bones are high in calcium. Humans, however, eat only the minerally-poor muscle meats which disrupt the calcium-phosphorus ratio.
Grains, and especially refined grains, can lead to rapid dental decay. They are soft and sticky, are always cooked and remain on the teeth for bacteria to digest, unless supplemented by high-calcium fresh greens, grains lead to an excessive phosphorus and acid level in the body.
Seeds and nuts, two foods commonly eaten by Hygienists, are also phosphorus-rich. Fortunately, these foods are usually somewhat balanced in calcium as well, but there is an inherent wisdom in eating these foods with leafy greens or citrus fruits—both good sources of calcium.
When a diet high in acid-forming foods (such as meat, legumes, grains, refined foods, etc.) is eaten, the calcium ratio is also disturbed because the acid residue of these foods require the base mineral calcium to neutralize them. When this occurs, calcium is shunted from the body’s reconstruction and maintenance activities and is used instead to balance the harmful effects of the acid-forming foods.
We can insure ourselves of the proper mineral balance by eating foods only in their whole, raw state.
Once a food as been tampered with in any way, a nutrient loss occurs. An alkaline diet of fresh fruits and vegetables keeps the calcium in the teeth instead of having it used to neutralize harmful acid wastes that are created by processed foods, cooked foods and foods not suitable to the human dietary (meat, grains, legumes, etc.).
By the Skin of Our Teeth
Tooth decay is the most familiar dental disease, yet it is the degeneration of the gums that is the most serious problem. Most tooth loss in this country occurs not from decayed teeth, but from poor gum health and bone loss.
Bleeding from the gums after brushing or flossing is the first sign of potential gum trouble. Healthy gums do not bleed. They should be a healthy pink, not a bright red, and they should hold the teeth firmly in place with no signs of recession.
Bleeding occurs because the gums have become irritated by a buildup of a substance called plague. What is plaque? Well, if you look closely around the base of your teeth where they join the gum line, you might find a white chalky deposit or perhaps a yellow band. That is plaque and that is what causes most dental troubles in this country.
Plaque is the acid-waste products of bacterial colonies that live in your mouth. As these bacteria eat, they excrete an acid substance which forms the chalky plaque that coats your teeth.
When this plaque is fresh (about one to two days old), it can usually be removed by simply brushing or flossing. If the plaque is left on the teeth, it becomes mineralized into a rock-hard substance called calculus.
Calculus is a hardened mineral deposit that forms at the base of the tooth and under the gum line. Eventually it can cover the entire tooth. As it hardens and creeps beneath the gum line, it becomes razor-sharp. The calculus deposits irritate, injure and eventually destroy gum tissue. It’s quite simple, usually even quite painless and sometimes quite permanent.
The removal of plaque before it turns into calculus is the main reason for brushing and flossing the teeth. If the plaque has already turned to calculus, your only alternative is to have your teeth professionally cleaned and scraped (or scaled). This is usually painless, involves no drugs and is inexpensive ($20 to $30). If the tartar is already deep below the gums, it may be considerably more expensive, but is worth it if a careful and thorough job is done. It may just save all your teeth.
But why does this plaque occur in the first place? Is plaque buildup “natural?” What did man do before the invention of the toothbrush or of dental floss or of the dental hygienist?
Well, he rarely suffered from this plaque buildup because he ate foods that do not cause this condition. Raw foods do not decay in the mouth—they are still “alive.” Only when dead foods, such as cooked foods, are eaten does this decay occur. This is why we are always told to brush after every meal. And this is good advice, especially if our mouths have been turned into cesspools of decay by junk foods, meat, white sugar and so on.
On the occasions that I eat cooked foods, I can hardly wait to brush my teeth. You can almost feel the decay starting immediately. Cooked food particles left in the mouth cause bad breath and a pasty feeling to the teeth. When fruit fibers are left in the mouth, no decay occurs. You can remove a piece of pineapple that may have been lodged between the teeth for hours and it is still fresh. Try doing that with a piece of roast beef and you’ll see an obvious difference.
What Can You Do?
To have a healthy mouth, put healthy food into it. An optimum diet can prevent over 95% of all dental problems, and a regular cleansing program (brushing, flossing and scraping, if necessary) can just about solve the rest.
Unfortunately, many of us begin healthy practices and a good diet after dental problems have already started. It takes about 25 years or so to grow a healthy tooth. If we ate poor foods during that time period, it’s probably going to show up in our teen and gums at a later age.
So you see, even if you are now eating only the best foods and engaging in all sorts of health-promoting activity, you still might suffer from dental problems created by poor eating habits in your earlier years.
Such serious problems as missing teeth, severe gum disease, poor eruption of the teeth or large decayed areas are going to require some professional attention. Minor dental problems can definitely be arrested by a good Hygienic diet and may even be reversed. If you are already experiencing pain, however, it may indicate that the condition has progressed too far to be remedied by diet alone.
What you need to do is to correct all the old dental problems, stay on a good diet, and clean your teeth regularly and you’ll never have any pain or problems again.
If you are currently in pain, have tooth sensitivity, or have some sort of gum disease, find a good dentist who is sympathetic to your healthy lifestyle.
After you find a dentist you can trust, have the major repair work done that you need. A cavity won’t heal itself; a broken tooth won’t grow back—you just have to have these things repaired as best as possible and then make sure it never happens again. Also, insist on quality materials and quality workmanship from your dentist. Poorly and cheaply done dental work can cause more harm than the conditions they attempt to correct. One dentist said that most of his work comes from “fixing up” other dentists’ mistakes and shortcut attempts. Don’t compromise or “economize” when you’re having permanent corrective work done; after all, you want it to last a lifetime.
After you get your teeth back in shape, stay on a good diet and practice regular dental hygiene. Once these old dental problems are corrected and you eat only wholesome foods, you’ll never be bothered by tooth decay, gum disease, or mouth sensitivity again.
After all, good health should be something you can really sink your teeth into!