5

votes

Do bacteria cause tooth decay?

Answered on June 04, 2015
Created July 31, 2012 at 7:03 PM

WAPF claims that bacteria do not cause tooth decay:

As for claims that xylitol can prevent tooth decay, I can only say, ???Buyer beware!??? Such claims are based on the faulty theory that bacteria cause tooth decay. We know from the work of Weston Price that tooth decay is a problem of nutrient deficiencies???the bacteria are just there cleaning up dead tissue.

Is there a consensus in the paleo community?

A related idea is the effect of acid, either produced by bacteria or in acidic beverages like orange juice. Does the acid do nothing at all to the teeth, or is a well-nourished body just able to rebuild the teeth quickly enough?

If I'm well-nourished, and decide to eat some fruit before bed, and not brush my teeth, is that a bad idea?

(I also wonder about xylitol but I'll probably ask a separate question.)

70c75942b975919dfbed8dddbd767b60

(289)

on August 02, 2012
at 03:02 PM

@John lol my eyes sometimes glaze over at the scientific details, but I often come back anyway :)

2e5dc29c61f97d335ffb990508424719

on August 02, 2012
at 12:54 AM

fructose and glucose have been implicated in cavities in the grooves of teeth (pit and fissure caries) Only sucrose has been implicated in smooth surface caries but if I go into detail peoples eyes tend to glaze over.

2e5dc29c61f97d335ffb990508424719

on August 02, 2012
at 12:51 AM

Good, they did not have that up when it was published last October

70c75942b975919dfbed8dddbd767b60

(289)

on August 01, 2012
at 04:30 PM

@John I think your last comment above should also be included in your answer, so it's all in one place. Thanks!

70c75942b975919dfbed8dddbd767b60

(289)

on August 01, 2012
at 03:45 PM

Btw, I found the text of the article [here](http://agd.org/support/articles/?ArtID=9892). Makes it easier to do a search.

70c75942b975919dfbed8dddbd767b60

(289)

on August 01, 2012
at 03:44 PM

Btw, I found the text of the article [here](http://www.agd.org/support/articles/?ArtID=9892). Makes it easier to do a search.

2e5dc29c61f97d335ffb990508424719

on July 31, 2012
at 08:44 PM

I assure you bacteria are one of the determinates. If you feed gnotobiotic rats sugar they won't get decay. I like WAPF and am a member but their articles are not peer-reviewed.

782d92f4127823bdfb2ddfcbcf961d0e

(5231)

on July 31, 2012
at 08:40 PM

Nice articles. I think I've only had one cavity in my life (in my mid 20's). When I took a microbiology class in college we cultured our mouths for s. mutans and I didn't grow any. Don't know why but not complaining.

2e5dc29c61f97d335ffb990508424719

on July 31, 2012
at 08:39 PM

I really liked his theory on why children get so much decay. As a dentist I really see it in kids but not in their parents so much. Same diet.

70c75942b975919dfbed8dddbd767b60

(289)

on July 31, 2012
at 08:25 PM

The theory sounds reasonable to me. The part about bulimics and their intact dentin was especially telling.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on July 31, 2012
at 08:23 PM

"bacteria are just there cleaning up dead tissue" that was the silly part.

70c75942b975919dfbed8dddbd767b60

(289)

on July 31, 2012
at 08:07 PM

Thanks for the articles.

70c75942b975919dfbed8dddbd767b60

(289)

on July 31, 2012
at 08:01 PM

@John I realize it's not the main point of the article, but they explicitly say "faulty theory that bacteria cause tooth decay", which seems like a plain assertion to me. They obviously believe the theory is faulty, and I'm asking "how do they know?"

70c75942b975919dfbed8dddbd767b60

(289)

on July 31, 2012
at 07:59 PM

@Matthew perhaps, but what is your view? I've come to question a lot of things, and I don't want to so quickly dismiss what might currently sound silly to me.

2e5dc29c61f97d335ffb990508424719

on July 31, 2012
at 07:58 PM

How did you get to that conclusion from that article? The article talks about agave. Their take on xylitol is controversial but I concede the greater point about processed foods being worse.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on July 31, 2012
at 07:47 PM

I think that the WAPF do say some silly stuff sometimes.

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5 Answers

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4
2e5dc29c61f97d335ffb990508424719

on July 31, 2012
at 07:56 PM

There are 3 determinate s of tooth decay. I wrote about that here. Teeth, bacteria, and ferment able carbohydrates. (sugars) If you want to read about the best theory we have of tooth decay download and read the article by Dr. Southward linked in this piece. It also talks about the correctness of the Weston Price approach.

70c75942b975919dfbed8dddbd767b60

(289)

on July 31, 2012
at 08:07 PM

Thanks for the articles.

782d92f4127823bdfb2ddfcbcf961d0e

(5231)

on July 31, 2012
at 08:40 PM

Nice articles. I think I've only had one cavity in my life (in my mid 20's). When I took a microbiology class in college we cultured our mouths for s. mutans and I didn't grow any. Don't know why but not complaining.

70c75942b975919dfbed8dddbd767b60

(289)

on July 31, 2012
at 08:25 PM

The theory sounds reasonable to me. The part about bulimics and their intact dentin was especially telling.

70c75942b975919dfbed8dddbd767b60

(289)

on August 01, 2012
at 03:44 PM

Btw, I found the text of the article [here](http://www.agd.org/support/articles/?ArtID=9892). Makes it easier to do a search.

2e5dc29c61f97d335ffb990508424719

on July 31, 2012
at 08:39 PM

I really liked his theory on why children get so much decay. As a dentist I really see it in kids but not in their parents so much. Same diet.

70c75942b975919dfbed8dddbd767b60

(289)

on August 01, 2012
at 03:45 PM

Btw, I found the text of the article [here](http://agd.org/support/articles/?ArtID=9892). Makes it easier to do a search.

2e5dc29c61f97d335ffb990508424719

on August 02, 2012
at 12:51 AM

Good, they did not have that up when it was published last October

1
70c75942b975919dfbed8dddbd767b60

(289)

on August 01, 2012
at 06:07 PM

This is an expansion of John Sorrentino's answer (the accepted one) based on the cited sources. Give him an upvote too if you find this answer useful.

His website has a pdf to an excellent article by Ken Southward. I found a link to the text here.

I only read parts of the article so far, but I think this excerpt summarizes it well:

The tooth is designed to withstand the harsh oral environment, provided it is properly nourished. A high-sucrose diet affects the tooth from the outside by enabling oral bacteria to produce acid and from the inside by reducing the dentinal fluid flow and the body's ability to control the inflammatory process in the dentin. Antioxidants can shield the dentition by decreasing the effects of acid erosion, by minimizing the effect of ROS in the hypothalamus, and by replenishing TIMPs in the dentin. Minimizing sucrose as well as increasing fruit and vegetable intake and nutritional supplementation are modifiable lifestyle decisions with significant measurable benefits.

The systemic theory of dental caries
By Ken Southward, DDS, FAGD
Featured in General Dentistry, September/October 2011
Pg. 367-373
Posted on Friday, September 02, 2011
  • ROS=reactive oxygen species (a category of free-radical)
  • TIMP=tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (inhibit MMPs which would break down the dentin)

I wonder if dietary fructose and glucose have the same effect as sucrose. That's something that wasn't addressed. Someone who knows more about the oxidative effects can probably address that issue.

2e5dc29c61f97d335ffb990508424719

on August 02, 2012
at 12:54 AM

fructose and glucose have been implicated in cavities in the grooves of teeth (pit and fissure caries) Only sucrose has been implicated in smooth surface caries but if I go into detail peoples eyes tend to glaze over.

70c75942b975919dfbed8dddbd767b60

(289)

on August 02, 2012
at 03:02 PM

@John lol my eyes sometimes glaze over at the scientific details, but I often come back anyway :)

0
Medium avatar

on June 04, 2015
at 07:50 PM

I am a dentist and in dental school I learned that cavities are caused by bacteria and a susceptible tooth. This means it is the bacteria AND the internal susceptibility stuff. Both factors are necessary. Cavity-causing bacteria without a susceptible tooth will not result in a cavity and a susceptible tooth without cavity-causing bacteria will not result in a cavity (but other issues could occur like sensitivity etc). Like someone sneezing on an airplane. Same virus or bacteria comes into contact with many individuals but it is those who are susceptible that get sick.  

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on October 07, 2012
at 07:02 PM

yes - diet is formost however there IS bacteria and it DOES "cause" tooth decay when the conditions are right - and yes xylitol HAS been clinically/research shown to reduce the activity of the decay causing bacteria.

like everything else -there is no ONE reason for such a thing - like there is no ONE reason for obesity, or ONE reason for diabetes...

Healing Tooth Decay: Cod Liver Oil/Butter, Xylitol, Spry Gel & Tooth Powder http://daiasolgaia.com/?p=74

and

Paleo-Plus Dental Healing & Health Diet Recommendations http://daiasolgaia.com/?p=2892

good luck!

0
Df6dabaf4b1ef3d5db980ad64c501a5b

on August 01, 2012
at 10:31 PM

Since Price observed green stuff growing on remarkably healthy teeth in some of the populations he observed, it seems reasonable to conclude that it's not strictly a bacteria problem.

My takeaway from the WAPF reading I did was that people who eat primarily processed, industrial foods end up deficient in vitamin K (assumed identity of Price's Activator X). Since vitamin K controls calcium partitioning, being deficient in it directs calcium to be deposited in blood vessels instead of the skeletal system and teeth.

Basically, garbage in, garbage out.

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