Structure of Tooth Determines Susceptibility

C. N. Peacock, L. D. S., of Bedford, England, Discusses Diet and Atomic Arrangement of Calcic Substance in


Let us consider teeth under three headings: –


First of all I define good teeth as those which have a reasonable chance of serving the owner the allotted three score years and ten, though it may never be possible for man to fully comprehend how such teeth are formed and kept in healthy function.

We can only guess at the problem and try our beliefs out in a practical manner and see whether they come true time after time.

Body Needs Food for Existence

It must be a question of food because of the body cannot be nourished and develop on air and water. Before we can find out where we are at fault in our foodstuffs we must ascertain of what the human mouth is composed: and here it will suffice it we consider the enamel, the protecting covering of the teeth. The following is the roughly accepted analysis of human enamel:

Per cent

Calcium phosphate with trace of calcium fluoride ………………… 90.00

Calcium carbonate ……………………………………………………………………….    4.5

Magnesium phosphate ………………………………………………………………..               1.5

Other salts and organic matter …………………………………………………..   4.0



for which is obvious that the double salt of calcium phosphate and calcium fluoride is the one on which attention must be concentrated.

My belief is that the way to the solution of the formation of the perfect tooth will only be found by the consideration of its atomic structure. I believe that they can. This such packing can be loose or dense we may other from the metallurgical world.

For example, in iron at ordinary temperatures, the atoms are arranged so as to form a series of elementary cubes attached to each other in all directions, each elementary cube having an atom placed at each cube corner and one in the center of the cube, thus giving one atom in close proximity to eight other. (See Fig. 1.)

If this iron be merely heated to 900 C., there is a complete change in this atomic structure. Whilst the general assembly remains that of a number of elementary cubes, these cubes which will have an atom at each cube corner now have on the center of the cube face instead of the one in the center of the cube. Such an arrangement means that this atom is in close proximity to twelve others. (See Fig. 2.)

In other words, there is a closer packing of the atoms, which results in lower inatomic spaces and in very different physical properties brought about place whilst the meta is still in the solid form. Many merely by the addition of heat –a change which takes other, example could be cited, illustrating how the atomic structure.

For example, in iron at ordinary temperature the atoms are arranged so as to form a series elementary cubes attached to each other in all additions each elementary cube having an atom place each cube corner and one in the center of the cube, thus giving one atom in close proximity to eight others. (See Fig. 1)

If this iron be merely heated to 900 C., there is a complete change in this atomic structure. Whilst the general assembly remains that of a number of elementary cubes, these cubes which still have an atom at each cube corner now have one in the center of the cube. Such an arrangement means that each atom is in close proximity to twelve others. (See Fig. 2.)

In other words, there is a closer packing of the atoms, which results in smaller inatomic spaces and in very different physical properties brought about place whilst the metal is still in the solid form. Many merely by the addition of heat –a change which takes others examples could be cited, illustrating how the atomic structure controls the physical properties of our metals.

Having now proved by illustrations that atomic structures can be loosely or densely packed, we must next proceed to show what profound effects extremely small amount of an added element, again in the metallurgical world, may have on the original element.

Exact Arrangement of Atoms Unknown

Although it is not yet known how these added so called stranger atoms exist in the main structure of their effects on the physical properties are most marked and well known.

For an example, iron with an addition of 0.2 per cent of carbon becomes the mild steel of commerce, so largely used in structural work, which cannot be hardened by quenching in water. But an addition of about 1.0 per cent of carbon, however, produces a steel which can be hardened by quenching and becomes admirably suited for the manufacture of edged tools. Furthermore, in the high strength copper-zinc alloys, 0.25 percent of iron can produce extraordinary improvements in the physical properties, though it is not known how these comparatively few iron atoms exist in the general structure.

Again, it has recently been found that the additions of only 0.05 per cent tellurium to lead brings about some internal change which has the effect of enabling the lead to stand up to fatigue stresses greatly in excess of those which the lead alone can resist –a discovery which has enabled cracking in the lead sheathing of electric cables to be completely overcome. Under the microscope, the large and coarse crystalline structure has become small and fine, and it is claimed that it offers a much greater resistance to corrosion by acids than ordinary leads. (See Fig. 3.) These few examples will suffice to show the second point that I wish to bring out concerning atomic structure, namely, that minute quantities of an added element can and do bring about profound changes in materials, although at the present time we are unfamiliar with the mechanisms of these changes.

In the light of the above examples and of our clinical experience, there is every reason to believe that the calcium and phosphorus atoms in the human tooth may be loosely or densely packed together, and that the fluorine atom may hold the controlling condition.

Fluorine, Most Chemically Active

Fluorine is of all the known elements the most chemically active, and so great is its affinity for other substances that for many years it defied every attempt at isolation. It attacked the vessels in which it was being prepared, and even formed combinations with gold and platinum. It also has a great tendency to form double salts, such as are to be found in the calcium phosphate and calcium fluoride of human enamel. If there is as much as two parts per million of fluorine in drinking water, then the teeth of children brought up on such water will probably be mottled. Fluorine is evidently intimately concerned with the formation of teeth, and must not be taken in any other way except as combined by nature in a normal foodstuff. Possibly the maximum amount of fluorine in human enamel is never as much as 0.5 per cent, but so difficult is it of isolation that its percentage has not been settled. Nevertheless, I believe it to hold they key to the formation of perfect enamel by making a dense packing of the calcium and phosphorus atoms by reason of this great affinity.

With regard to magnesium, it is noteworthy that human enamel only contains 1 ½ per cent of magnesium phosphate compared with nearly 5 per cent in carnivorous teeth. Surely its purpose must be then for strength, such as the crushing and grinding of bones.

When we are wanting to use minerals for the teeth we must think of them s being contained in a very complex formula in foodstuffs. These mineral atoms are organically combined by life in the sunlight with the plant, and they cannot be replaced for body building by any inorganic minerals in bottle form or even in food made inert by chemical treatment.

We are told that an atom is composed of a nucleus with electrons, and that an atom is said to be in an excited living state when its electrons have a particular arrangement in orbits around its nucleus. The sun is the storehouse from which the atoms receive this almost-living power which can be destroyed or made inert as far as assimilation in the human body is concerned by chemical and other means. I believe that the building up of the perfect tooth is accomplished by supplying the body with foodstuffs in which are combined by nature these living mineral atoms. It must be done, of course, in childhood, and should commence with the mother before the child is born. Very simple mixtures of unspoiled foodstuffs in different parts of the world have produced perfect dentitions. In the civilized world it could be accomplished on a mixture of bread, milk and vegetables. The bread must contain the minerals of the wheat, the milk must be raw, and the vegetables must be conservatively cooked or as salad, to retain the precious minerals. the fluorine is to be found near the outside of the cereal, and is therefore removed from white bread; the calcium and phosphorus are either not assimilated from hot milk or they are left adhering to the sides of the heated container, the magnesium is poured away down the sink from the ordinary boiled vegetables. These are three instances of the destruction of minerals. Sprawson has proved the value of raw milk.

Varied Diets May Produce Sound Dentition

Some of the finest dentitions in the world have been seen in the islands around the North of Scotland, where coarse oatmeal, fish, and cods’ livers have been the mainstay in the diet. Now the cod lives on smaller fish, which have in their turn lived on the smallest animals, living on the green growth on the bottom of the sea. My explanation is that these minerals contained in this sea growth are activated by the sun’s rays and are storedup in the cod’s liver, and I should imagine are the most prefect food minerals obtainable. They are probably combined in a very minute and complex form.



Foodstuff and Dental Caries

Lastly we come to consider decayed teeth. The only cause of dental caries with which we need be concerned is again present day foodstuffs. The main exciting cause is their adherence to the outsides of the teeth and the predisposing cause is their deficiency to supply the building materials and the exercise necessary to form the aforementioned good tooth. Sim Wallace has elevated the hard and crisp foods to their rightful positions.

It does not require a trained observer to say that the sugars are the foods which become sticky in the mouth and which are the most difficult to dislodge from the cracks, fissures and interproximal spaces.

There are other cases of foodstuffs clinging to the teeth, such as white flour dust floating in the atmosphere of a mill causing decay, but this is of minor importance and could be classed as an occupational caries.

The great enemy of the teeth is devitalized, demineralized and denaturalized sugar, chiefly by reason of its formation locally into calcium dissolving acids, generated by mouth bacteria. I believe also that internally such sugar may rob the teeth of their calcium atoms by the blood stream to the pulp on account of the calcium dissolving power of a demineralized sugary blood. A reference again to Figs. 1 and 2 gives an explanation how it might be possible for some of the calcium atoms to leave the general structure in the enamel and travel down the dentinal tubules to the pulp.

But locally all these sugars decalcify the enamel in accordance with Miller’s theory.

Menzies Campbell relates, for instance, how by a diet containing no sugary, dental caries in groups of school children has been definitely controlled, decayed cavities not even increasing in size. Cass Grayson relates how the most extensive and rapidly produced case of dental caries ever seen occurred in the mouth of a young sweetmeat cook at an hotel in Paris. He said he had continually to taste the sweetmeats, in order to make them as the public would have them to made. Even the labial surfaces of the upper centrals and laterals were eaten away by the decay, and in general his teeth seem to have been attacked at all points.

Dr. James Wheatley, M. O. H. for Shropshire, after an examination of nearly 6000 children, found that there was a large preponderance of caries amongst the children eating sweet in quantity. The fewer the sweets the less the number of carious teeth and the greater the percentage of sound dentures. Amongst those who ate many sweets no sound dentures were ever found. The London Times has recently reported in its correspondence an extra-ordinary occurrence in New Zealand, where, on account of its abundance and cheapness, cows had been partly fed on refined sugar. Cases occurred in which dental decay became so rampant that the animals had to be slaughtered.

Finally, for forty years I have used my own mouth as a control, and I have been able to start pain and caries at will, merely and only by the consumption amongst all the foodstuffs of devitalized, demineralized, and denaturalized sugars.

It must not be inferred from these statements that natural sugars cause dental caries, or that they are not a most valuable foodstuff. Many of the West Indian natives, who are consuming sugar cane and unrefined sugar all day long, have very perfect teeth. Again the native who eats the natural sugar obtained in most Indian bazaars often has the most beautiful teeth.

Change Food Habits

In conclusion therefore it seems to me useless to try and stamp out dental decay amongst the civilized nations whilst the diet is mainly composed of demineralized white bread and demineralized and devitalized white sugar. The body generally requires about sixteen different minerals so that the wider the choice of food the more likelihood there is of obtaining an abundant supply of minerals.

In addition to the basic foods mentined, viz: bread, milk and vegetables, we can add eggs, fish, meat, fruit and nuts. We should also remember to keep the balance between the acid and alkaline-forming foods and not to forget Fletcher’s experience about mastication. The final advice to mankind is to preserve in the foodstuffs all those precious natural minerals whose atoms have been storedup with chemical energy by the mighty power from the rays of the sun.

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Bedford, England