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Medical News & Perspectives
September 28, 1964

Organic Ingredient of Saliva May Cause Tartar on Teeth

JAMA. 1964;189(13):37. doi:10.1001/jama.1964.03070130077051

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The substance that produces tartar on the teeth appears to be an organic ingredient of saliva, Albert Sobel, MD, Beth Israel Hospital, New York, reported in September at the Chicago meeting of the American Chemical Society.

"Now that we are aware of this calcifying principle of saliva, it will ultimately be isolated and methods will be found for determining the amounts present in the saliva so as to chemically differentiate mouths that will form tartar easily," Sobel explained.

Tartar is an important factor in peridontal disease which affects nearly the entire population by the age of 60.

The responsible substance, which deposits as a thin film on the tooth, is calcified from the calcium and phosphate in the saliva.

The calcified substance builds up on the teeth, penetrates and irritates the gums, and attacks alveolar bone.

Sobel and his associates found that beryllium chloride would prevent calcification. In dilutions as

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