LENNOX, JOSEPH : Capetown, South Africa (June 6, 1938).

 [Died: Jan. 7, 1939.]

The diets of aboriginals of South West Africa contain very much more phosphorus than the average ” civilized ” diet, which difference may account for the prevalence of dental diseases in civilized races, and the freedom there­from in these native races. The phosphorus deficiency in civilized diets is brought about by consumption of denatured foods, such as refined sugar and white flour and all the products made with them in combination ; and by modern methods of cooking involving loss of minerals. The consumption of refined sugar and white flour commonly included in modern diets may unbalance the mineral intake and seriously affect that of phosphorus—and also materially that of calcium. The deficiencies thus brought about may be a predisposing cause of caries.

The phosphorus-deficiency theory accounts for (a) variation in incidence of caries in children of the same family ; (b) variation in occurrence of caries in the same individual at different ages ; (c) caries of pregnancy ; (d) environmental in­cidence of caries. The phosphorus content of certain articles of diet grown in South Africa, compared with the corresponding articles grown in England, Ger­many and the U. S. A., shows that it is 20 percent lower in the South African products. A phosphorus-deficiency brought about, in a child, by consumption of refined sugar and white-flour products may be accentuated by consumption of products grown in a phosphorus-deficient soil. Since the soil of South Africa has a well-known natural deficiency of phosphorus, and as farmers do not scien­tifically fertilize the soil to remedy this condition, the difference in phosphorus con­tent between similar articles of food may be the cause of the vast difference in the incidence of caries in England as compared with South Africa and New Zea­land. This may therefore explain the well recognized environmental incidence of caries.

In. Tsumeb, a mining town in South West Africa, an examination was made of all the children. The drinking water was very ” hard,” containing as much as 0.141 gram of calcium (expressed as Ca0) per litre. It was estimated, con­servatively, that each child received in the drinking water at least 0.282 gram of Ca0 per day in addition to that in the ordinary diet. Nevertheless there was an appalling amount of caries. The author never before examined a group of children whose mouths were uniformly so extremely carious. Calcium-laden drink­ing water evidently does not prevent caries. The Tsumeb soil is well known to be phosphorus deficient ; therefore all vegetables grown there may be phosphorus de­ficient; and there may be a relationship between this fact and the incidence of caries. The consumption by cattle of grass grown in this area is sufficient to cause a phosphorus-deficiency disease (osteoporosis) ; preventable by daily administra­tion of di-calcium phosphate. In private practice daily administration of one gram of sodium glycerophosphate, to patients suffering extensively from caries, resulted in less rapid destruction in some; in many cases, the carious process appeared to be arrested. Patients also reported a general sense of well being as a result of this treatment.

References: Den. Mag. Oral Topics, 1929, 1930, 1931.

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