Nutritional Notes

Due to the increasing interest on the part of the public and the strides made in the scientific study of nutritional deficiencies in relation to dental disease, it behooves every practitioner of dentistry to do his part in correcting the imbalances in modern dietaries and aid in the fight against rampant dental disease and its many grave consequences. In this connection let us state that this publication does not in any sense take the stand that diet and nutritional control is the only and absolute cure for dental disease. Oral hygiene is a proven and valuable means of prevention and we should never lose sight of its effectiveness; however we do believe that nutritional correction must be instituted to complete preventive efforts.


In the July issue of Nutrition and Dental Health, we discussed under Nutritional Notes, the necessity of proper mastication of foods, and the advisability of dentists familiarizing themselves with the fundamentals of nutrition and dietetics, in order that they may intelligently serve the public. Only through systemic study of the subject can it be made of practical value, however, monthly, the editors will present briefly some of the more important phases of nutritional practice.


Each food requirement (carbohydrates, proteins and fats), mineral deficiencies, the protective vitamins, habits of life, exercise, diversion, ingestion, that are intimately associated with dental disease, in fact all bodily disease. Dentistry has taken the initiative in correcting these faults. Because our profession has seen the light and has so thoroughly investigated the association between dietary deficiencies and the production of dental disease, each practitioner should feel a certain pride in being a member of the health group that will aid in controlling much of the present disease by scientific feeding.


To eliminate any one factor in the consideration of prevention of dental disease would mean failure in dietary practice. We will consider each factor in the order before mentioned and bring out the important points. This together with the original articles appearing regularly in Nutrition and Dental Health, and auxiliary reading of nutritional research should stimulate each and every dental practitioner to equip himself to practice SCIENTIFIC PREVENTIVE DENTISTRY. Inquiry into the diet of patients, together with the study of the necessary foods and protective factors, will soon result in a practical knowledge of deficiencies and means for their correction.


Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats are the basic foods, and it is with these three factors that we will start this discussion of nutrition and dietetics. Carbohydrates furnish energy and heat, and give us the needed strength for our strenuous life. Proteins provide the repair factor for the body. Fats, also heat and energy. An imbalance of the intake of these three foods upsets the body metabolism.


Upon the consideration of the basic foods let us first consider carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are food substances, chemically composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, with the hydrogen and oxygen in the same proportions as in water. The name itself implies its chemical make up, which means, watered carbon. Carbohydrates are derived mostly from vegetables. A notable exception being glycogen, which is found in liver and shell-fish; another is lactose, present in milk. Carbohydrate foods are intended to supply energy and heat. It is often thought that carbohydrates are fattening foods, however if one leads a normal active existence the exact opposite is true. Carbohydrates are fattening only when one does not utilize them and they become stored for future use.


Regarding Proteins, the repair factor in the body, they are primarily required for tissue formation and body building. Secondly they can be partially converted into carbohydrates and thus form a source of heat and energy. Chemically, protein is made up of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, and small amounts of sulphur and phosphorus. These chemical elements are built from amino-acids which form the basis of the protein structure. The value of proteins in different foods depends upon the number of amino-acids present in that protein. All of the amino-acids are necessary to life, therefore we must obtain all of them for our existence.

Every food factor has a definite place in the metabolism of the body and to slight any one of them in the dietary causes an unbalance that is bound to interfere with normal functions. While carbohydrates and proteins furnish only 4.1 calories, fat provides 9.3 calories per gram. Carbohydrates are the most bulky of foods, proteins more compact and fats are the most compact of all.

Several reasons exist for the necessity of fats in dietary. Fats are easily converted into soap in the intestines, thereby acting as a lubricant and overcoming constipation and facilitating the absorption of food. They are concentrated foods and reduce the bulk of the diet. The Vitamin A and D content of some fats is an important factor. Calorific value of fats is twice that of carbohydrates of proteins.