Prolific Sources of Pyorrhea

Starch Film, Deep Gum Crevices Invite Pyorrhea

Semi-Civilization, with Pure Racial Breeding, Escape Gingival Pockets; Their Diets Preclude Periodontal Disease Tendencies.

So Finds Dr. William F. Lawrenz in



                It is a far and plaintive cry from the year 500 B.C. when Hippocrates, the father of medicine, wrote about “loose teeth and foul gums,” on and up to 1746 when Fauchard, the celebrated French dental authority, referred to pyorrhea as “mouth scurvy,” and on to the present day when pyorrhea is ever a black cloud hanging over the horizon of dental afflictions.

Investigation discloses that to pyorrhea, rather than to caries, can be charged the greater loss of teeth (in the aggregate), including causes for artificial dentures. The dental profession as a whole devotes fully 90 per cent of its entire time to operations other than periodontal. Therefore it is plain that a great mass of our population can be predoomed to artificial substitutes.

General dental practitioners are becoming conscious more and more of the fact that the ordinary treatment for pyorrhea is unsatisfactory to both patient and themselves. To them it becomes increasingly important to know the cause and what can be done to prevent this prolific mouth disease. Appropriately to pyorrhea can the old adage be changed to, “a stitch in time saves twenty-nine.”

Fauchard’s theory of mouth scurvy, Pierce’s theory of rheumatic diathesis, other theories of constitutional disease, filth disease, blood disease, rich man’s disease, malocclusion, diet deficiencies, and a late theory that weather changes causing electro magnetic conditions, excited bacterial activity, all have been presented from time to time as etiological factors. Many of these proved wholly untenable after practical investigation.

Through practical experience and investigations into hundreds of cases of pyorrhea in all walks of life, these initiating factors were revealed: abnormally deep gingival crevices; large consumption of wheat flour foods, including a mineral deficiencies in the general diet; a laxity in oral hygiene (wholly or in part).

Investigations prove that pyorrhea makes its start very frequently at an early age (fourteen to twenty years). The examination of many mouths of these ages disclosed abnormal gingival crevice depths of from two to four millimeters in the interproximal spaces between teeth (molars in particular), in place of the normal, self clearing space of one millimeter. Unquestionably such food and bacterial retaining traps must be considered as contributing factors in the initiation of a pyorrheic lesion.

Examinations disclosed that the primitive people of one single racial stock, as the yellow, red and black races have a more or less uniform gingival crevice depth; consequently they escape this handicap. Abnormal gingival crevice depths are a common occurrence in the mouths of Caucasians, who are the descendants of various stocks such as Nordic, Alpine and Mediterranean, with varied physical makeups. Dentists are well aware of the dental irregularities common to the white race. These include teeth and jaws out of alignment malposed and unerupted third mandibular molars. They are abnormalities not frequently met with in the moths of the red, yellow and black races. According to genetics we may scientifically account for these abnormalities, including that of abnormally deep gingival crevices.

In countries where the diet of the people tends toward carbohydrates, foods relatively high in starch content, pyorrhea is found to be quite prevalent.

It is significant that the history of ancient man, who also suffered pyorrhea, revealed incidents of this mouth disease to be co-incident with the early cultivation of wheat, which history records began between six and seven thousand years ago. The skeleton remains of Egyptians who lived 6000 years ago, show plainly a loss of alveolar process about certain teeth of their skulls, positive evidence that they were afflicted with pyorrhea.

It is likewise significant, that in the United States, England and Canada, where the consumption of wheat flour is enormous, are countries in which pyorrhea as a mouth disease is of common occurrence. Statistics of the United States Government give a per capita consumption of wheat flour in the United States as 176 pounds per year.

Searching and checking into the early diets of patients afflicted with pyorrhea particularly while they were yet in their teens, disclosed they were large consumers of wheat flour foods, such as bread, biscuits, pancakes, doughnuts, pastries, cereal and were light eaters of foods that supply needed important minerals.

Examinations of the mouths of primitive people who subsist mainly on vegetables high in starch content, showed that they were badly affected with pyorrhea. A search into the mouths of primitive people, who rely largely upon a flesh protein diet, revealed more or less absence of pyorrheic lesions. This was particularly noted in the Eskimos and likewise of the Japanese who inhabited the island of Japan, who subsist mainly on sea foods, fish and sea vegetables.

Sea Foods, Main Japanese Diet

In a personal investigation of a tribe of our early American Indians who roamed the plains for a living, it was revealed they had an entire absence of pyorrhea. Upon questioning them as to their diets it was disclosed that they depended exclusively upon flesh foods. At an early age they relished the highly mineralized liver, kidneys, pancreas and the blood of buffalo, deer and antelope and other wild animals. Contrast the diets of the animals that supplied these Indians with food, grasses grown upon virgin soil, with vegetation that may have been grown upon soils that have become depleted of minerals as Price has discovered.

From the foregoing findings we can visualize primitive man’s advantage over his more modern brother in the matter of diet and the inherited advantage of normal gingival crevice depths, that provide a natural protection against acquiring pyorrhea, even though he may wholly neglect giving his mouth adequate hygienic care.

Studying animals we note they are affected with pyorrhea when living normal lives and have very shallow gingival crevices. The herbivorous animal cleanses his teeth by the extreme roughage of his food, the carnivorous animal living exclusively on flesh foods leaves no starch deposition about the necks of his teeth. Domesticated animals as dogs and cats have developed both pyorrhea and caries when fed cooked starch foods.

Actual pyorrheic condition was brought about in a large group of horses that I personally investigated. The owner, being a food faddist, fed these horses a soft mash feed composed of finely ground alfalfa mixed with a heavy black molasses, a by-product from beet sugar.

For many months these horses appeared well fed, their coats sleek and shiny. Later trouble began, some lost weight, a few died and teeth were found in the feed boxes. On one occasion a half bucketful of horses’ teeth were collected. Such soft food requiring no grinding, as compared to hay, oats and corn on the cob that would thoroughly cleanse their teeth. The resultant sticky mass clinging tenaciously about the necks of their teeth resulted in fermentation, then irritation followed with infection, with rapid resorption of the supporting bone, the horses lost their teeth. Here we had a similar condition to that which occurs in the human notch, as it relates to pyorrhea.

We can now trace the initiation and progress of a pyorrheic lesion in the mouth of individual that have inherited abnormally deep gingival crevices, who eat freely of bread, biscuits, pancakes, and are lax in oral hygiene. It is well to be reminded that all mouths harbor colonies of bacteria, that the ptyalin of the saliva is a ferment that acts on and breaks down the starch contained in carbohydrates, and that wheat flour is seventy-six percent starch. In eating the wheat flour foods, described the free flowing saliva may become charged with starch particles. In the process of mastication, crevice is a perpendicular and horizontal pressure exerted upon food mass, forcing the liquid saliva and contained starch particles into crevices. In the case of deep gingival crevices, the saliva is retained for a time, and in cases of lax oral hygiene, a precipitation of a starch film upon the tooth crown and root (one wall of the crevice) now takes place.

Starchy Foods Ferment in Mouth

In due time the deposited starch film in the crevice ferments because of the body heat and the ever present mouth bacteria, with the formation of lactic acid, a by product, that always takes place in starch fermentation.

With a more or less constant production of lactic acid and accompanying bacterial ferments in these deep gingival crevices, the surrounding soft parts become irritated. Constant irritation brings inflammation to the gingival tissues, resulting in increased circulation and stasis, seen as swollen and bleeding gums. In the course of time, a slight separation of the gingival attachment to the tooth in the involved crevice takes place, due to the constant irritation and infective processes.

At this stage of the lesion, the margin of the underlying alveolar bone will be in process of resorption nearest the lesion. Likewise the periodontal membrane will be found to be receded at this point. Upon the now exposed root cementum there will be deposited a scale or serumal calculus, creating further irritation to the surrounding soft tissues. An exploration into the involved crevice will now reveal a well defined pyorrheic pocket. At this stage, proper periodontic treatment and correct oral hygiene will positively bring arrest of the disease. Otherwise the now established lesion will progress to the ultimate loss of the tooth involved.