Jan 242013

sugar falling from a spoon onto a pileAlthough sugar is one of the first things that comes to mind when we talk about what causes tooth decay it is almost always for the wrong reason. As I have already dispelled the myth that teeth decay from attacks on the exterior surface in another article, on what causes tooth decay, I won’t go into it here.

Nevertheless, even though tooth decay is, as I have pointed out, a result of a reversal of dentinal flow, sugar plays a major role in creating the mineral imbalance, which causes the reversal. Sugar in any form, be it fruit, honey, carbohydrate or refined has a dramatic effect, even in minute quantities.

I know that this is not good news for most of us, but the alternative of tooth decay and dental work is even less appealing. What is really quite remarkable is that this knowledge, which originated in the work of two prominent dentists and has been known for many decades, has been largely ignored.

We have been led to believe that sweets are OK as long as you brush and floss right away and regularly. Yet with all of the products and services sold for dental care people’s teeth continue to degenerate at an alarming pace. Go figure.

As I pointed out in the earlier article, if the serum phosphorus level drops below 3.5 the dentinal flow reverses causing decay. Dr. Page a student of Dr. Weston Price, both historical figures in dentistry, in experiments conducted in the first half of the last century, found that sugar could reduce the phosphorus level.

This reduction of phosphorus blood levels, in turn produced an increase in calcium levels in the blood stream. Yet the excess calcium could not be used by the body because of the imbalance with phosphorus and could even become toxic.

Dr. Page found that when he took his patients off of sugar and put them on a whole food diet not only did their dental woes begin to fade away, many other problems did likewise. He ran more than 2,000 blood chemistries to study the relationship between calcium and phosphorus levels and tooth decay.

He found that obtaining a 2.5 ratio of calcium to phosphorus would halt the resorption of bone. In other words, at that ratio cavities would not form. Further, he determined that maintaining a blood sugar level of 85, plus or minus 5, would sustain the necessary calcium to phosphorus ratio, all other things being equal.

The caveat here is that the patients were on diets providing the required levels of calcium, phosphorus and other necessary nutrients. Note that there is a plus or minus range for our optimum blood sugar level. Hence, sugar is not only an essential nutrient for our bodies, but also for our oral health.

Sugar is one of the body’s most important fuels and is the preferred source of energy for our brains and muscles. The problem is, these days, more than 50% of Americans consume 180 lbs per year compared to an average of 4 lbs per year in 1700.

Researchers have found sugar to be something like 4 times as addictive as cocaine. The historical rise in consumption supports this. The most deadly form, high fructose corn syrup made from GMO corn, is in just about every edible packaged product lining today’s chain grocery outlets.

Most people don’t have a clue as to how much sugar they consume every day. The addictive quality comes from the rush experienced consuming refined sugars including white flour due to the surge of glucose in the bloodstream as I explained in an article on whole grains.

Some suggestions to break free from this nutritional trap include only eating whole grains including the germ. Best to mill the kernels yourself. This is a complex carbohydrate requiring the body to work to break it down. This way our bodies get the required sugar without the addictive rush. I can’t recall ever hearing anyone say they were craving a slice of whole wheat bread.

In weaning myself from excess sugar I threw out refined and bought organic cane sugar. I then began displacing that with natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup. I have all but eliminated sugar proper from my diet.

Then, what I found really helpful to cut way back on even natural sweeteners was, in a manner of speaking, tricking my body. As I lowered the amount of natural sweetener I increased spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, which my body associates with sweets. This works surprisingly well.

Another helpful, healthy measure was to eat a variety of fermented foods like kefir, sourdough and sauerkraut. As some of the names imply, these foods have an attractive sour tang to them, which, by the way, grows on you.

Just take note of how popular sourdough products are. Acquiring a taste for the sourness in fermented foods does wonders to alleviate cravings for sweets. If you would like to see more helpful information on what causes tooth decay and how to achieve oral wellness I would suggest reading this article.


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 Posted by at 1:44 pm

  16 Responses to “What Causes Tooth Decay: The Role Of Sugar”

  1. So back to the brothers experiment. My brother was very addicted to sugar… always had a Mountain Dew and chips. I have never really gotten into drinking much in the way of sodas… beer, YES, soft drinks, no…lol. I’m thinking the high fructose corn syrup levels in soft drinks were killer when it comes to my bro’s teeth. Nice post, my culinary friend.

    • Yeah Pat, that probably is the case and your personal history’s testify to the truth of the matter. It is unfortunate that many of us, right from early childhood, get hooked on sugar and are pulled away from a healthy, nutritious diet. With hospitals everywhere busting at the seams full of ailing people, the problem apparently goes a lot deeper than just good teeth!

  2. I always tell my clients that as far as sugar goes it is not the quantity but the frequency. Oral Ph balance and the ability of saliva to buffer the acid production of bacterial plaque are the crucial elements in caries susceptibility.

    You are absolutely right that most people do not have a clue as to where sugar (particularly refined sugar) is hidden. One tin of baked beans can contain 6 tsp.

    Great article Jim

  3. I have been off sugar for the last 10 years, Not completely off but making a conscious effort to reduce my sugar intake. Zero new cavities and pretty healthy gums. It’s working for me

    • That is great to hear John! I guess, as they say, “the proof is in the pudding.” Thanks for sharing your personal experience, hopefully it will benefit other readers.

  4. Great post Jim, there is refined sugar in most processed foods even ones that state low fat or null fat are full of sugar so people who think they are doing well on their diet are being duped and actually putting weight on never mind the problems with teeth as you say. As one person said when you get the high from the sugar you have nowhere to hide from your next fix as its everywhere you look. Standing at the train station there are kiosks full of the stuff.

    • Exactly Mark, the sugar “pushers” have overrun the planet. I read about a group of moms that got together and protested to their chain grocer that it was uncouth to have the check out line full of crap candy. Their kids were bored with shopping and waiting, and a total nuisance when tempted by the display.

      The grocer caved and made a candy free lane until the “pushers” made a stink and claimed it wasn’t unfair. They said the parents are responsible to discipline their own kids. Go figure!

  5. So many excellent points here. I’m not surprised by your statement that sugar is 4X more addictive than cocaine. I’ve heard of the cancer diet where you cut out refined sugars, so it makes sense for general health as well. What do you think of the natural sugar subsititue from stevia? Is it just as harmful to our bodies as cane sugar? thanks

    • I actually use a little stevia myself as there are a few things, like the odd cup of coffee, that I have enjoyed sweetened for so long that I don’t want to change. Because it is a natural substitute and the quantities I use are so small, I am not really concerned. One foodie blogger, whom I follow and really respect, doesn’t use it because it is processed. If she can’t duplicate the process in her own kitchen with the tools she has she won’t feed her family with it. I pretty well follow her lead on that with the exception of a little stevia.

  6. Sugar is seems to be in just about everything and pop wow laced with sugar…beer much better for you….I try to be aware of what I am eating these days and I tend to stray away from sugar now a days my tummy does not like…but my tastebuds do…the battle continues…most of the time I win..but once in a while the sugar buzz takes over…:) great article Jim

    • Thanks for your comments Tim. I am sure most of us can sympathize with what you are saying. It is definitely a battle as most of us were raised in a pretty sugary environment. And like Mark mentioned, it is everywhere! Good luck with your battle.

  7. Great post, Jim. I’ve tried to replace sugar with honey, but honey is rather cost-prohibitive. Got any suggestions? Add another item to the list of wonderful things that I like but shouldn’t be doing… :-)

    • Thanks Bill. I use honey that still has bee pollen in it for the benefits thereof, but you are right, it is pricy, especially the good stuff. I also use maple syrup, which is cheaper, but I keep clear of anything commercial because they use formaldehyde to de-foam it when they process it, which, once again, makes it a little more expensive.

      The absolute cheapest is stevia because you need so little. It is hundreds of times more potent than sugar for sweetening. The only drawback is that it is processed and I am not sure how, but I use so little that I am not worried. I bought a huge container several years ago, which seemed expensive at the time, but given that it isn’t going to run out for I don’t know how many more years it was a good buy.

  8. I use stevia as a sweeten but I grow my own plants and put the leaves in my dehydrator and then store the dried leaves in airtight jars. The dried leaves will last for several years stored like this. The dried stevia is green, so getting used to the color might be difficult for some. When you go to use it, you must realize that 3-4 teaspoons of dried green stevia replaces one cup of sugar.

    I’m still experimenting with baking as it sometimes changes the texture but I’m sure there is a way around it. :-)
    Another really interesting article… Thanks Jim :-)

    • That is awesome Judith, thanks for sharing that. Stevia is one of the very few processed things that I buy and I didn’t know there was that simple an alternative. Is it difficult to grow and process to powder? It changes the texture in baking because there is a volume of bulk that is lacking because so little stevia is used by comparison. I find adding 1/3 cups of liquid for each called for cup of sugar balances out the effect nicely.

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