Most Individuals know that diet has something to do with it- and certainly sugar has – but why caries take place remains somewhat mysterious. To prevent the need for root canal treatments, one must remember that every case needing a root fill, other than those involving injury, started with a tiny bit of tooth decay.
Why do some people’s teeth decay and some do not? That question was central to Dr. Price’s enquiry.
Those feelings led him to conduct thousands of blood and saliva experiments on humans and animals, which brought forth many insights into the reasons teeth become carious. Unfortunately, much of this data was buried right along with his root infection discoveries because of disputes over the focal infection theory.
The two main discoveries regarding the causes of tooth decay were (1) the changing of the acid-base balance of the saliva from its normal alkaline status to one of acidity, and (2) the lowering of the ionic calcium levels in both the blood and the saliva.
Since Dr. Price’s time, these two factors were rediscovered by Harold Hawkins, D.D.S., Melvin Page, D.D.S., Emanuel Cheraskin, M.D.,D.M.D., and others.
Acidity of the saliva and lower calcium values resulting from the ingestion of white flour products, sugar, refined grain, and related products is still not fully understood by the average dentist.
Unfortunately, the dental and medical professions, in pushing the use of flourine in the prevention of caries, have failed to see that the process of tooth decay is a systemic, whole-body problem – not a local one.
Dentists and physicians have failed to see that systemic health problems are compounded because children and adults who use flourine feel they are protected, and that sweets and refined foods therefore won’t hurt their teeth. Furthermore, harmful systemic effects which involve parts of the body other than the mouth are seldom considered.
These factors relate to the unexpected finds that people who have tooth decay are also more susceptible to other degenerative disease.
A rather high percentage of people whose mouths are overly alkaline tend to develop periodontal disease. Usually they don’t develop tooth decay until the gum disease is far advanced. The softening of the dentin and cementum in these cases is often mistaken for caries but is a different phenomenon.
Knowing the chemistry involved in the occurrence of tooth decay and pyorrhea is fundamental to the understanding of these two disease. When tooth decay is present,the acid-base balance is depressed. That means it is on the acid side and the level of calcium is lower than normal. For those who have pyorrhea, the contents of the pockets are very alkaline and the calcium level is higher than normal.
Pockets can be the cause of the need for root canal treatment whenever a lateral accessory root canal opens into an infected pocket area, thereby allowing the bacteria in the pocket to be introduced into the tooth through the blood vessels which reside in the root canal.