Feb 092013

a model of genesTo understand the role epigenetics plays in what causes tooth decay we need to get a grasp on what this groundbreaking new discipline dispels about former beliefs regarding genetic inheritances. We used to think, with a kind of fatalistic attitude, that we are pretty well stuck with the genes that we inherit.

While this is, in a sense true, it is by no means a complete picture. What is much more important is how these genes are expressed. This is the essence of what epigenetics looks at, how the reaction of the same genome is affected by the environment. It basically is a controlled study of the old, controversial, nature versus nurture question.

The term “genome” just refers to a full set of chromosomes, which encompasses all the inheritable traits we are born with. And, of course, one of the prime avenues of research is to study identical twins versus fraternal twins, as identical twins have the same genome.

These studies are not only an excellent way to answer the nature versus nurture question, they have revealed some surprising results in our fundamental understanding of genetics. We now know, for example, that if we have a poor diet we actually change the way our genes are expressed.

Environmental factors, such as nutrition, play a major role in our genetic expression. They do this by turning certain genes on and turning others off. That is what I mean by the way our genes are expressed. Although, we only have what we are born with we have quite a number of genes and the critical factor is which ones are “firing.”

I have written on the role of nutrition in another article on how to cure tooth decay. The gravity associated with improper nutrition is revealed by epigenetics. If we eat an improper diet we not only change the manner in which our genes are expressed we pass the same tendencies on to our children.

I began to do some independent research on what causes tooth decay when I saw one of my daughters frantically struggling with some serious dental health issues with my two beautiful, but still very young granddaughters.

When I was younger it was absolutely unheard of to be drilling and filling children just a few years old. I was raised on a “convenience diet,” which included a lot of processed foods. Sad to say my daughters’ fair was better, but not a whole lot.

Looking back, I wish I had known back then what I do now about nutrition and epigenetics. It was a startling revelation to see how my former diet gave the next two generations of offspring a genetic predisposition to poor oral health.

Actually, this current interest in epigenetics is really a revival of passed over experimental research done many decades ago by a pioneer of nutrition, Francis Pottenger MD. He became somewhat famous for his genetic work with cats.

He demonstrated how a poor diet affected cats and how it was inherited by their offspring and passed on to subsequent generations. The uplifting aspect of his work was his ability to restore all of the genetic damage in 4 generations with good nutrition alone!

One of the more promising results of the study of epigenetics is that we can actually turn on healthy genes and not only by good nutrition. We can also positively affect how are genes are expressed through exercise and avoiding or removing toxins. I have explained how to accomplish this in another article.

One of the most crucial lifestyle tools in our arsenal to cure tooth decay is lowering stress. The negative impact of stress on our genetic expression has been well researched and documented. This is not only crucial to cure tooth decay it affects the health of our whole being.

To quote the famous researcher Melvin Page, “Every chronic degenerative condition of the human body expresses itself in the mouth.” Hence, poor oral health is only an indicator of a systemic problem and is often linked to stress.

When we discover natural ways to cure tooth decay we are actually finding pathways to good, vibrant health for our whole being.


The University of Utah

Effects of stress throughout the lifespan on the brain, behaviour and cognition
Sonia J. Lupien, Bruce S. McEwen, Megan R. Gunnar § and Christine Heim


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 Posted by at 7:13 pm

  14 Responses to “What Causes Tooth Decay: What Is Epigenetics?”

  1. So if I am to understand this correctly, the bottom line is that you can overcome ‘nature’ by the proper ‘nurture’. The fact that nutrition affects the genes that we pass onto our children is startling. I have been outside the university setting for several years, OK, I mean decades and this is very surprising to me. I remember my genetics classes and I don’t ever remember this particular fact. I always understood that the nature would be passed on, no matter what ‘nurturing’ had taken place during our lifetime. Thanks for an eye opening concept, Jim.

    • Well Pat, just as I cannot be expected to take full responsibility for genetically predisposing my progeny to poor oral health, for lack of knowledge, it is no surprise you were not aware either. There are evil forces in pursuit of money that keep a lot of relevant information from the public eye. Dr. Melvin Page’s research, which proved the major theorem of epigenetics, long before the very term was even conceived, was largely ignored by dental practitioners because it posed a major threat to some substantial income!

      Thanks for the idea, “overcome nature by nurture,” I am sure it will fit into my blog some-wheres nicely. Reciprocation for your borrowing SAD (Standard American Diet) ;-)

  2. Ahhh so it’s your fault ;)…..

    • Yup! Please extend my abject apologies to T and Addie and while you are at it please remind T that if it weren’t for grandpa’s poor eating habits she probably never would have gotten to meet the new friend she has found in the biological dentist she seems so impressed with ;-)

  3. Jim, I see you and McConaha have a catch phrase club working here. Nice! I, too, was amazed to learn that poor diet could actually alter the genetic makeup we pass along to our children. I had no idea our eating and nutritional habits had such a forceful impact. Also, I was previously familiar with the word ‘genome’, but would’ve been hard-pressed to define it correctly. OK, I actually didn’t have a clue. But now I know and will remember it. Another great learning experience, Jim.

    • To tell you the truth Bill the term “genome” is tossed around a lot. It kept popping up in my research so I found it incumbent on me to understand what it actually means well enough to explain it to just about anybody. It is really pretty simple, although, at first like you, I didn’t have a clue! I think that the formally educated research society attempt to protect their turf by obfuscating simple concepts with jargon.

      I find the absolute biggest challenge in researching this stuff is cutting through the jargon so I can understand what is being discussed. But the beauty of the effort is, at the end, I can comfortably as well as confidentially, post it in terms easily understood by intelligent seekers of knowledge that don’t have time to translate the jargon.

      I am well pleased that the comments that I am receiving seem to be indicating that I am succeeding in this regard, so thanks for your feedback!

      • Your efforts are succeeding, Jim. And not only did the educated elite try to obfuscate their concepts, they made them difficult and confusing to understand! :-)

        • Haha, I stand corrected ;-) I just hate it when I get caught in the act whilst pointing it out as a fault! I do appreciate the encouragement, though, as well as the clarification.

  4. I wish better nutrition was less effort and less cost, because you certainly are correct about the need for it and the benefits.

    • I hear ya Roger, but I have found some ways around the expense. The only trouble is they require a little more effort because they involve starting from scratch with organically grown dried grains and pulses as well as making bone broth from pasture fed animals. The end result is very nice though. I get most everything from local producers and although it is all organic and pasture fed I have managed to cut my grocery bills to a fraction of what they were!

      If you are interested I did a series on Cheap Healthy Meals where I have included strategies and recipes that I have developed and use to accomplish this.

  5. I read this with a lot of interest. Several things popped out while reading it. Our oldest son has never had a cavity while his brother and sister have had what I’ll call a normal amount. They were raised on the same diet. Maybe he just got some genes that were stronger in that area. The other thing that really aggravates me is the fact that so much that could help us in our quest for good health is covered up in the name of profits.

    • I am also aggravated by that same thing John. Although I try not to harp about it too much I faithfully point it out in many of my articles. It is, in fact, one of the principle motivations for blogging as I dedicate a good portion of my time to uncovering and finding ways around giant food corporations robbing people of their health with powerful advertizing while milking them to pay for it!

      As to the different oral health of your children, I think you have hit the nail on the head. Sounds like 2 of them received more genes from one parent who lacked some essential nutrients in their diet at some point. A major epigenetic study shows that the pre-adolecent years are critical when it comes to proper diet. Thanks, your comment just gave me fodder for another Article, “Epigenetics Revisited!”

  6. Interesting article Jim, I am amazed at you knowledge. I have had my fair share of cavities as a child growing up and in those days there wasn’t much choice of food around but I know my parents would have opted for convenience foods rather than home grown for speed. I can’t blame them really as there was no support to tell them that the foods available at the market were probably not that good for us. However today we are more informed but still many people opt for the easy TV dinner or fast food than go and prepare home grown home made dinners.

    • Yeah Mark, people have been roped in by the food giants lulled into believing its all good. The corporations have some of the best minds on the planet doing very effective advertising, who they pay a small fortune. I read about a laboratory experiment where researchers had 3 groups of mice on 3 different diets. One group was fed a very popular commercial cold breakfast cereal made from puffed grain.

      The grain is extruded under very high pressure and temperature and is denatured. Another group were on a normal diet and, as a lark, they fed the 3rd group the cereal boxes. Only it wasn’t a lark, as the group fed the boxes outlived the group fed the cereal! Of course, it was hushed up and never published, but I have it on good sources that it was real.

      But you are right, people are waking up and change is slowly spreading and growing. I just hope that my 2 cents worth will play a positive role in that.

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