Various drugs and foods in common daily use—taken in complete ignorance of their destructive effects—cause rampant decalcification of enamel. The dental profession does not seem to have recognized this menace as a forerunner of caries in many persons. The quality of a tooth has no bearing on the effects of decalcifying agents. However sound and hard a tooth’s structure may be, its good quality is no defense against decalcifiers.
Decalcifying drugs (a) act so insidiously that destructive effects are not generally recognized until at least twelve months after their initiation, when they are of ten attributed to other causes ; (b) attack not only pits, fissures, and approximal surfaces, but also plane surfaces, and are responsible for the white crescent- shaped areas at the free margins of the gums ; (c) include many physicians’ prescriptions, and also certain patent medicines ” to build blood and stimulate appetite; ” (d) and most of them contain powerful acids, such as hydrochloric, nitric, sulphuric. Many tonics and throat gargles in general use, containing iron (dissolved in hydrochloric and nitric acids), are destroyers of enamel. Such drugs should invariably be taken through a tube ; and some anti-acid, such as soda water, lime-water, or milk of magnesia, should be used immediately as a mouth-wash to neutralize the acid adherent to the teeth. An example of the prevalent lack of attention to the grave menace of these acids is the use by many dentists of chromic acid in treatment of trench mouth. A 7-percent solution of chromic acid ruins the enamel on any tooth in one minute. Besides the many prescriptions and patent medicines now being used by millions, the author finds that rampant decalcification of enamel may be caused by frequent solution in the mouth of hard candies, cough drops, and what children call ” suckers.” The idea that ” a lemon a day keeps the doctor away ” may be a good one, so far as vitamins are concerned; but a lemon a day will keep the dentist constantly ” on the job.” Repeated use of lemonade or limeade is injurious to tooth enamel.
Reference: J. Am. Col. Den., 6, 186, 1939.