Some Important Assimilation Factors

Some Important Assimilation Factors in Caries Control

By Harold F. Hawkins, D.D.S.

Los Angeles, California

                If we could place every man, woman and child in the United States on a well balanced diet based on the so-called accepted standard there would be a very sizable percentage whose body chemistry would be out of balance. This would be due to assimilation and elimination difficulties some of which might be inherited while others be acquired.

Endocrines Influence Body Chemistry

We might give a few examples to illustrate. A child might be born with an inactive thyroid due to the fact that both parents were from families which were largely hypothyroid might have been injured by one or more of the children’s diseases such as mumps, chickenpox or measles. Such a child would probably have a tendency to be overweight, as hypothyroids cannot oxidize their food as well as normal individuals do. The tendency for dental decay would be greatly increased as calcium assimilation is often very seriously interfered with in this condition, also phosphorus assimilation may be reduced.

An inactive thyroid may be responsible for an acidosis and a severe skin rash due to an inability to oxidize certain fruit acids such as citric malic. Oranges, grapefruit and other fruits like apples, apricots and peaches are only alkaline to you if your body is able to oxidize the fruit acids which they contain. If your basal rate is too negative you may develop a severe acidosis. This can be corrected in pest by taking thyroid or considerable iodine in suitable form.

We might cite another case, a person with a very torpid liver following a bad case of typhoid fever or malaria. Such a case would have poor fat assimilation. This would very seriously interfere with phosphorus assimilation as phosphorus goes through teh intestinal wall as a phospholipid, a combination of fat and phosphorus. As a result of this interference in phosphorus metabolism the calcium would be altered and the acid-base balance would be greatly disturbed. Constipation and intestinal putrefactor are to be expected in this type of case.

We might discuss the kidneys or the pancreas or these endocrine glands but the above illustrates that any dysfunction in a gland or other organ makes normal metabolism impossible on an average well balanced diet. So a diet based on normal metabolism cannot be expected to produce normal body levels in this class of cases.

What percentage of the general public would fail to respond to a well balanced diet so a fair chemical level would be secured is hard to say. About ten percent of a group of 100 orphans under my care failed to respond to a well balanced diet and required special treatment and supplements to place them in good chemistry. However after these changes were effected the entire group was carried for a period of two and one-third years with the development of only one cavity.

In over fifty percent of all cases coming to my office for dental relief I find the assimilation factors as important or more important than the quantity of food fed. For that reason I believe a discussion of assimilation as it relates to dental caries to be very much in order.

The teeth and bones are composed principally of calcium and phosphorus. Most investigators are very much agreed as to the importance of the calcium-phosphorus balance. Some feel that dental decay cannot occur if this balance is normal. Any factors that influence in any way the level of calcium and phosphorus are of interest.

I will discusses briefly eight factors that have an influence of calcium assimilation and seven that influence phosphorus assimilation.

Calcium Assimilation Factors :

The Source of Type of Calcium Food

It has been stated that if metabolism is normal the body can utilize many forms of calcium salts as di and tri-calcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, etc. If assimilation is difficult the soluble forms, as calcium lactate and gluconate, seem to be more desirable.

A few years ago a theory was advanced that has dovetailed with our observations so nicely that I will give it here:

All calcium salts in a normal individual are changed to calcium chloride in the stomach by the action of hydrochloric acid.

The Source of Phosphorus

We have the animal and vegetable sources. The animal phosphorus is found in meat, fish, eggs, milk and milk products like cheese. The vegetable phosphorus is found in seeds of all kinds like grain (wheat, corn, rye), legumes, (peas, beans) and nuts.

The animal phosphorus is more readily assimilated than that from vegetable origin. Especially is this true in the case of children for they find vegetable phosphorus difficult and often impossible to handle while adults can usually obtain considerable phosphorus from this source. The fact that a child has a short digestive tract compared with that of an adult may account for this difference. We must not forget carnivorous animal have short digestive tracts and herbivorous animals have long digestive tracts while man, an omnivorous animal, has a tract of intermediate length.

The Amount of Unsatisfied Fatty Acids

Most vegetable oils as cotton seed, corn oil and olive oil, as well as the light animal oils and fats like cod liver oil, butter and cream have a marked effect on phosphorus assimilation. Aub has shown that the percentage of fat in the diet. Apparently without the aid of these unsatisfied fats food phosphorus can not pass through the intestinal wall. Fats are more than an energy food; they help regulate the phosphorus level of the body. They should be used carefully as they have profound effects upon water balance and upon the retention of minerals in the body. They can not be used instead of starches and sugars. The light fats are probably the most important single factor in regulating a suitable phosphorus level.

The Hydrochloric Acid Level of the Stomach

In the protein the phosphorus is found in loose chemical union with the amino acids. To secure the phosphorus it is necessary to have good protein digestion. The hydrochloric acid level is a desirable and necessary factor in protein digestion. We find people who have low hydrochloric acid usually a low phosphorus level of the body.

Infections in the Body

Chronic infections have a very depressing effect of phosphorus assimilation. Arthritis deformans exhibit this to a marked degree, so much so there is not enough phosphorus assimilated to calcium from the body and it often accumulates with heavy lime deposits. When these infections are removed phosphorus assimilation improves although there is often a permanent injury to the mechanism that controls phosphorus.

The Amount of Pancreatin

An inactive pancreas is often associated with poor phosphorus assimilation. When pancreatin is fed by mouth there is a decided increase in the phosphorus level on the same protein intake.

The Amount of Bile

When bile is deficient there is poor fat assimilation. When bile salts are fed there is an increase in phosphorus assimilation since, as has been mentioned above, food phosphorus passes through the intestinal wall in combination with fats and oils.

The Basal Metabolic Rate

The thyroid controls to a marked degree the rate of oxidation. When thyroid is fed to a hypothyroid case there is usually an increase in phosphorus on the same intake of protein showing that thyroid enables the body to break down protein.

It will be seen from the above that the assimilation factors are of great importance. If the body chemistry is normal there cannot be dental decay. Inasmuch as calcium and phosphorus are the building stones from which bones and teeth are made due consideration must be given to the calcium-phosphorus balance. By maintaining calcium and phosphorus at a normal level at all times we have an excellent guarantee that the body will not suffer a shortage during periods of stress like that of accelerated growth.

For the past ten years we have tried to control the calcium and phosphorus levels in all our patients by running chemical tests covering these elements. The results we have obtained justify our contention as to the importance of the level of both calcium and phosphorus. Our records show what not less than 95% of all caries in children is being prevented and about 85% of all erosion and gingival caries is being controlled in adults. Such results are a challenge to the dental profession to equip themselves so preventive dentistry can be made available to the masses.

Our dental colleges could speedily bring about changed era in dentistry by drafting the best available men in this field today and creating department of preventive dentistry by drafting the best available men in this field today and creating department of preventive dentistry that would be on a par with and equal to the operative and pathological departments in their schools.

While restorative and operative procedures will probably always be necessary yet it would be the earnest desire of dentistry to reduce greatly the incidence of caries and give more thought to those factors and forces that have to do with the building of a well formed set of teeth as far as possible free from dental pathology.

In any work in nutrition the first thought is to expose the subject to a well balanced diet. This should include adequate protein, carbohydrates, fats, minerals and the vitamins. The nutritionalist should be ever alert for deviations from the normal in assimilation and elimination or any impaired body function either inherited or acquired.

Health is more than adequate nutrition; due consideration must be given to the physical activity and the psychology of the patient. If we are to be successful in nutrition we must be alert to any forces or factors that would nullify our efforts.

I speak from experience when I say there is a real joy and satisfaction in a practice that has for its objects the development and maintenance of a mouth free from dental defects.

851 Roosevelt Bldg.

Los Angeles, Calif.