When one experiences toothache, many things go through one’s mind: vows to never eat sugar again, thoughts of at home oral surgery or tooth extraction, and many of us will inevitably wonder; how has evolution produced teeth that go bad from just eating? What did prehistoric humans do without toothbrushes? Did they frequently die at the age of 20 from toothaches and mouth sores? Why would nature play such a cruel joke on us, to produce organs for eating that can hurt worse than pretty much anything?
Although many of these questions will go unanswered, and only our hearts may answer these questions, some interesting developments have been discovered by leading scientific minds.
A joint study by the University of Adelaide, the University Of Aberdeen, and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute about the evolution of human teeth over the past 7 500 years has led to the result that prehistoric people had much more diverse bacterial culture in their mouths than we do now. This means that bacteria that are specialized at living in our mouths has developed over time, and the main culprit for this is the diet that we eat, which inevitably ends up feeding the bacteria in our mouths as well.
By viewing the DNA and physical makeup of calcified bacteria in prehistoric human teeth, it has been determined that there has been a shift towards a more negative oral environment over time. This means that our hunter gatherer ancestors, although still grasping issues such as the growing of plants and the use of tools, had a healthier set of teeth than we do. Once farming and the cultivation of plants and animals was on the rise in the fertile crescent, the bacteria in people’s mouths changed for the worse. It seems that eating better means that the bacteria we carry also eat better!
The next great negative leap came just after the industrial revolution, when people became even more sedentary, and even greater quantities of even more diverse foods became available to more people. This change brought with it the introduction of processed sugars into the human diet, which irrevocably changed things for the worse, and giving the bacteria in our lives the kingly reception that they enjoy, to this day.
In a matter of speaking, it seems that previously, ancient humans did not need oral health care techniques such as brushing or flossing, as the bacteria in their mouths were in harmony with them, and did not produce enough negative by products to rot their teeth. This of course as changed now, and should make us think about what that implies. It seems that our technological evolution has not only surpassed our biological one, but seems to have started to have negative effects on our physiology as well, and this can be seen not just from the fact that our diet is ruining our teeth, but our lifestyles are also ruining our backs, bones, and may even have a negative effect on our brains.
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