As shocking as it may sound, people who lived in the Stone Age had healthier teeth then those who live in the 21st century. Think about if you can’t remember the last time you scheduled an appointment with your dentist.
For the past 7,500 years or so oral health has declined rapidly thanks to industrialization and human evolution. These changes have led to a decline in overall health including oral health.
Oral bacteria changes began when farming was introduced roughly 150 years ago. That coupled with the introduction of processed sugar during the Industrial Revolution caused a dramatic decrease in healthy oral bacteria. This allowed cavity-causing bacteria to dominate leading to dental caries. This literally means that your mouth is constantly in a diseased state.
Researchers examined the DNA of tartar that was found in human skeletons in order to analyze oral bacteria changes from the Stone Age, the hunter-gatherers, those from medieval times, and those who lived after food manufacturing was introduced. What they found was that the evolution of diet and human behavior has had a negative impact on overall oral health.
This is one of the first studies that has ever been conducted and is a sound record of how evolution has affected oral bacteria and the consequences that bad bacteria carry. One of the most significant conclusions as a result of the study is that modern mans bacteria is much less diverse than those who lived thousands, even hundreds, of years ago and could contribute to oral health problems such as periodontal disease.
Archeologists have also discovered very little, if any tooth loss and no cavities, which is quite understandable considering the fact that processed sugar didn’t exist. The only sweet food available to ancient humans was honey. Other advantages included root vegetables and other coarse foods that helped clean the teeth naturally.
The skulls that were examined also had a strong system used for chewing, and although the teeth were worn, they were healthy. According to research, this means that very little, if any food was prepared.
Because the wild boar and other animals were leaner than what is consumed today, which according to the ADA should be a well-balanced diet, the fat that was eaten usually came from nuts, fatty fish and marine mammals.
Although much has changed when it comes to oral bacteria, you can still keep your mouth healthy as long as you practice good oral hygiene, which includes brushing twice, flossing once each day, and scheduling regular appointments with your dentist.