PYORRHOEA ALVEOLARIS is the name given to a chronic inflammatory condition in the mouth characterized by easily bleeding gums, loose teeth and halitosis (offensive breath). It is a disease as old as civilization. In the Ebers Papyrus (a record of medical practice in Egypt more than 3,000 years ago) there are numerous remedies for the treatment of “loose teeth.” Frequent mention is made in the literature of the Chinese, Romans and Phoenicians of loose teeth and bleeding and discharging gums.
Each generations teeth seem to be distinctly worse than those of the preceding on. In the Southern Medical Journal, May, I93I, R.A. Keilty states; “Over 90 percent of the adult population of the United States and certain other parts of the world are suffering from some form and degree of pathological change in the soft structure of the gingivae (gums) and the bone about the teeth”. From this it may be concluded that in all probability pyorrhoea is more prevalent to-day than at any other period in the worlds history.
In modern times, too, there has been a marked increase in the consumption of over-cooked and over- refined foods. Pyorrhoea and the eating of denatured and manipulated foods, particularly of a sticky, starchy and sugary nature, has gone hand in hand, and that there is a definite relationship between the two cannot be overlooked.
Chronic constipation with offensive breath, furred, tongue, etc., is almost an invariable accompaniment of the disease. Toxins produced in bowel stasis become re-absorbed and spread back along the alimentary canal, giving rise to the furred tongue and offensive breath so typical of this condition and the accumulated poisons in the blood become deposited around the teeth in an endeavour on the part of the system to excrete them.
To make matters worse the conditions in the jaws become aggravated by stagnation owing to the lack of exercise of the teeth and the connective tissues which surround them by inefficient mastication of sloppy and pappy food.
The intake of too much starchy and protein foods leads to an excessive production of acids and other pathological substances, and although these are neutralized to some extent by alkaline mineral elements, when these occur in large quantities, more earthy salts are formed than can be properly eliminated via the skin and kidneys. The result is that these slats collect on the teeth as tartar or form deposits in the joints resulting in rheumatism.
It will be seen from this that pyorrhoea is not so much a local disease as the local manifestation of a general disturbance, and the extraction of the teeth cannot cure such a condition, although many have had their teeth removed in the hope that their rheumatism would be cured. Furthermore, after the extraction of pyorrhoeic teeth, absorption of the bone continues for considerably longer than the normal period. This makes the satisfactory fitting of artificial teeth difficult.
In a paper read at the eighth International Dental Congress J. Menzies Campbell, D.D.S., L.D.S., F.R.S.E, said: “I firmly believe that Pyorrhoea Alveolaris is the result of the continued eating of a diet in which there is an excess of refined de- naturalized foods (e.g. meat and foods made from refined cereals and refined sugar) and a scarcity of natural foods (raw and properly cooked fresh vegetables, rips fruit and fresh milk). Further, I believe that a diet of this nature induces constipation and auto-intoxication.
I am also of the opinion that as constipation is a condition of bowel ill health, this ill health spreads backwards to the mouth, where it presents itself as a furred tongue and gingivitis.” Obviously, then, except in very advanced cases where there has been great absorption of the alveolar or socket bone, wholesale extraction of the teeth does nothing towards curing the complaint.
In fact, this treatment is nothing more than a suppression of the symptoms and can only lead to further trouble, since the poisons which were being eliminated via the gums would then have their outlet closed and the toxic condition of the blood thus increased.
Pyorrhoea in common with many other chronic ailments can only be cured by removing the cause. The whole system must be cleared up and restored to a clean normal condition. Local treatment should be directed towards the removal of irritating deposits, massage, thorough mastication, etc. Refined and de-naturalized foods such as white flour, white sugar, etc., and products of which they are constituents, should be avoided, while foods containing plenty of roughage and organic mineral salts should be substituted (fresh vegetables, fruit, milk, etc.).
In a lecture at the twenty-first Annual Congress of the Food Education Society, Dr. M. O. Bircher-Benner of Zurich, a Continental authority on diet, stated that he considered dental disease to be a symptom of defective feeding. He considers that the energy of foods must partake of the character of accumulated sunshine stored up in the vegetable kingdom. He arranged the materials of human nutrition into three classes according to their values as light accumulators.
Class 1. Raw Plant Products, e.g. Nuts, Oil, Honey and Milk Possibly raw Eggs.
Class 11. Wholemeal Bread, rightly prepared and cooked Vegetables, cooked Milk, Dairy Produce and cooked Eggs.
Class 111. All kinds of meat dishes, canned and preserved foods, white flour and white flour products.
When conditions are not too far advanced, that is, provided the socket bones have not been absorbed beyond repair, wonderful results can be obtained by a rectification of dietetic errors. The more serious or obstinate the condition, the more must nutrition belonging to Class 1 preponderate.
It must, however, be borne in mind that Pyorrhoea is a chronic disease; its onset and progress is very insidious and that in a great majority of cases it has been present for a number of years before its existence becomes known. There are two reasons for this. Firstly because its presence in the mouth is unassociated with pain, and secondly because the general conditions are apt to be regarded as distinct and separate ailments.
Immediate cure, therefore, must not be expected. The late Henry Lindlahr, M.D., the well-known pioneer of Natural Therapeutics, used to consider that in the cure of chronic complaints one month should be allowed for every year during which the disease has existed.
Treatment conscientiously carried out on these lines has the added advantage that artificial teeth which at best are but poor substitutes for our own are avoided, and a vast improvement in general health and well-being achieved.