The Impact of Tooth Decay on Prehistoric Humans and Modern Dental Health

Ava King

Updated Sunday, April 7, 2024 at 10:19 PM CDT

The Impact of Tooth Decay on Prehistoric Humans and Modern Dental Health

Prehistoric Dental Health and the Role of Diet

Prehistoric people dealt with tooth decay and infections, which could cause immense pain and difficulty in biting. Their diets were less likely to cause early tooth decay as they had less sugar and carbohydrates in their food. This meant that their teeth were subjected to fewer harmful substances that could lead to decay. Additionally, prehistoric people chewed on special sticks or twigs to help keep their teeth clean. This natural form of dental hygiene aided in removing food particles and bacteria from their teeth.

Evolutionary Factors and Dental Health

Evolution prioritizes reproductive maturity and offspring, so the quality and length of life beyond that point were not selected for. As a result, prehistoric humans frequently died from complications of dental disease at a young age. This suggests that the natural selection process did not favor traits that would promote long-term dental health. Instead, the focus was on survival and reproduction.

The Role of Sugar in Dental Health

Sucrose, a type of sugar, is especially likely to cause tooth decay, and it wasn't widely available until later in civilization. The introduction of sugar-rich diets had a significant impact on dental health. In areas without access to dentists, people have historically committed suicide due to tooth pain. This highlights the severe consequences that dental issues can have on overall well-being.

Diet and Dental Health in Animals

Dogs and cats that eat raw bones tend to have better dental health, highlighting the impact of diet on dental issues. Processed foods full of sugar and grains contribute to the need for dental treatments in animals. This correlation between diet and dental health extends beyond humans and emphasizes the importance of a balanced and natural diet for overall oral health.

Cultural Practices and Dental Care

Many cultures had ways of washing out bacteria from the mouth with water or chewing on sticks, tree gum, minty leaves, etc. These practices helped maintain oral hygiene and prevent dental issues. Some early cultures even practiced dentistry, such as removing teeth and replacing them with gold or precious stones or metals. This demonstrates the early recognition of the importance of dental care.

Wisdom Teeth and Tooth Loss

Wisdom teeth may have evolved as a response to the expectation of tooth loss due to decay or extraction. The presence of wisdom teeth in early humans suggests that tooth loss was a common occurrence, and the evolution of these additional teeth may have served as a backup for the loss of other teeth.

Modern Dental Health and Prehistoric Comparisons

Grains and sugars have a negative impact on dental health, as seen in both prehistoric humans and modern-day carnivorous pets. The absence of dentists in apocalyptic movies is a pet peeve for a dentist, as dental issues can cause extreme pain and even suicide. This highlights the continued relevance of dental health and the need for proper dental care in modern society.

The Impact of Diet on Dental Health

The lack of processed foods and sugars in prehistoric diets contributed to better dental health. Dental care was not as advanced in prehistoric times, leading to higher rates of dental problems. Chewing on stringy foods like celery stalks may have acted as a natural form of flossing for prehistoric people. These dietary factors played a significant role in the dental health of prehistoric humans and continue to influence dental health today.

The dental health of prehistoric humans was influenced by their diet, cultural practices, and the lack of advanced dental care. The absence of processed foods and sugars in their diets contributed to better dental health, while the lack of dental care led to higher rates of dental problems. Understanding the impact of diet and cultural practices on dental health can help inform modern dental care practices and emphasize the importance of a balanced and natural diet for overall oral health.

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