Diet and Teeth

            We cannot claim that the dietitian has solved the problem of dental caries but most research workers agree that this condition is due to two factors, both of which may be influenced by diet. The one is environment, the other metabolic.

Environment –(i) The trouble may be due to the acid produced around the teeth by the action of bacteria, especially those of the acidophilus or lactic acid group. If so, carbohydrate is at fault, but it is difficult to conceive than any decaying foodstuff might not have a harmful effect.

(ii). Dietetic factors may influence the chemistry of the saliva in a favorable or unfavorable manner. At present this theory is not generally accepted.

Metabolic –Few authorities deny the bacterial aspect of dental caries but even clean teeth may decay. There is considerable evidence that the resistance of the tooth to infection may be raised from within by a diet containing an abundance of fresh foods, milk and vitamin D. The tooth with prefect structure is least likely to decay.

Lastly, cereals and the refined foods produced by civilization have a disastrous effect when eaten in excess. Perhaps because they crowd out the protective foods; perhaps because they upset the chemistry of the body, or possibly because of their local effect.

While we have much to learn regarding diet in relation to teeth there is no doubt that our theoretical knowledge is far of us would do well to pause in this “hectic” life and consider if we are spending our hard-earned income to purchase health or sickness.

R. Pybus.

            Conclusions of paper published in British Dental Journal, December 15, 1936.

Per Journal C. D. A.




          In practice, with certain exceptions, all patients should be radiographed, as I consider the use of our “third eye” essential, more especially for spotting interstitial caries (which are often quite impossible to locate with mirror and probe), the approximate depth of the cavity, the size and shape of the pulp chamber and the absorption of alveolus, etc. The X-ray is not infallible but should be regarded only as a distinct aid to diagnosis. In younger patients, especially, I use bite-wing films, which not only show the crowns of the upper and lower teeth together, but demonstrate caries more clearly. These films are also extremely useful or checking up on finished work or at a later date for possible new cavities. Another important point is the question of the visual education of the patient. “Seeing is believing.”

The Dental Record.



            “The Relationship of Endocrine Dysfunction of Conditions in the Mouth.” the title of the very interesting and instructive paper presented to the Vancouver Dental Society, by Dr. W. N. Kemp, Endocrinologist and Anesthetist.

The speaker emphasized the close relationship that prevails between the specialties of dentistry and endocrinology. Undoubtedly normal eruption and development of the teeth and normal dental and oral health depends upon normal function of the ductless glands, particularly the pituitary and thyroid and the islands of Langerhans of the pancreas.

Dysfunction of the latter, of course, causes diabetes mellitus which is a potent factor in the etiology of pyorrhea which is a potent factor in the etiology of pyorrhea and other conditions of oral ill health.

Aside from the constitutional and hereditary factors which affect osseous growth, the development of the bones entering into the formation of the face and oral cavity is under the control of the ductless glands, particularly the pituitary and the thyroid glands. If discrepancy exists in the “timing” and effectiveness of these growth impulses, proper spacing, size, shape, and occlusion of the teeth are impossible, as is also a normally shaped palate. Hence dysfunction of the endocrine glands constitutes one of the important causes of malposition of the teeth and subsequent dental impairment.

The structure and health of the enamel, dentine and pulp of the teeth are directly related to the proper metabolism of the calcium and phosphorus which, in turn, are related to thyroid and parathyroid function and vitamin D supply.

Retardation in eruption of the temporary teeth occurs most commonly in infants with under function of the thyroid or pituitary glands or both; probably the pituitary deficiency is the fundamental one in these cases.

Hypothyroidism is the chief direct cause for delay in dental development. Usually it is accompanied by a retardation in the formation of all the structures which enter into the formation of the oral cavity, resulting in various types of disproportion between teeth, dental arches and palate. Sometimes the dental retardation in the infant can be traced to maternal thyroid deficiency during prenatal life. The late appearing temporary teeth often fail to give place to the permanent teeth at the proper time; this delay inevitably results in improper spacing, crowding and malocclusion. Timely treatment for the thyroid gland at this time is superior treatment to any orthodontal appliance. In hypopituitary function it is in the permanent teeth where the delay in appearance is most marked.

Disproportion in size and errors in alignment of the teeth is often due to over or under function of the pituitary gland or under function of the thyroid gland. Hyperpituitarism often causes the formation of large square widely spaced teeth with broad upper incisors. Hypopituitarism provides the othodontist’s chief field of operation since in these cases the jaw is too small to accommodate all the teeth comfortably. These, in consequence, are crowded out of position and overlap each other, especially in the receding lower jaw.