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Agriculture Created a Nightmare for Our Teeth

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Agriculture is the bedrock of civilization but created a nightmare for our teeth

Apr 5, 2016, 11:41 AM EDT
DNA from a 37,000-year-old skeleton found at the Kostenki archaeological site in Russia supports recents findings and offers new ones about the history of human evolution. Peter the Great Museum

The agricultural revolution changed everything, and it's tough to overstate this fact.

No longer tethered to roaming animal herds, or reliant on foraged berries, learning to grow our own food some 10,000 years ago allowed (and forced) us to settle down.

But that crucial Neolithic shift came with a cost that haunts humanity to this day: It devastated our teeth.

Farming grains and other carbohydrate-rich foods freed up a lot of time for our ancestors. In turn, this helped spur the development of culture, art, trade, science, and all the other things that go into complex human civilization (like news sites you read on the internet).

Yet this flood of carbs made our mouths — long-adapted to a more complex diet — a fertile breeding ground for one type of bacteria called Streptococcus mutans.

Dr. Richard Facklam/CDC (PHIL)

S. mutans is most commonly associated with cavities and tooth decay. It feeds off the carbs, including sugars, that get stuck in our teeth, metabolizing them into lactic acid. This acid then eats away at dental enamel and rots our teeth.

The bacteria is basically built for the human mouth, and is passed down from mothers to children during infancy.

However, our teeth hadn't really evolved to deal with it in large numbers, and researchers used genetics to discover that, around 10,000 years ago, S. mutans started to grow exponentially — right in time with the rise of agriculture.

After that first Neolithic bump for S. mutans, bacterial diversity in the human mouth pretty much remained consistent through the Middle Ages.

Our initial switch to farming wasn't the only time we gave a boost to S. mutans, though. During the Industrial Revolution 150 years ago, another major agricultural shift occurred: We introduced an enormous amount of processed flour and sugar into our diets.

This lit the powder keg we'd built for S. mutans, helping it crowd out other bacteria species to become the dominant dental bacteria, form stubborn and gnarly plaques of biofilm, and more rapidly chew away at our teeth.

ARTICLE SOURCE: https://www.businessinsider.com/growing-crops-human-cavities-increase-2016-3

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This is fascinating.
Recently I’ve been hearing bits and pieces here and there of dental hygiene and carnivore. Dr. Chaffee has mentioned it several times. I’ve heard some carnivores talk about going to the dentist and not having any plaque build up. I think I remember that Egyptian mummies we found to have terrible teeth and since they were basically, from what I understand, the founders of the agriculture era it would make sense.
I have terrible teeth due to having seven teeth broken in a car accident and the rest all stress fractured. I’ve got one molar, top and bottom, both sides left. There of them are gold crowned. I’m doing my best to hang on to them.
I’m really hoping that carnivore will help in that regard.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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I've had one root canal, because I broke the tooth on a tongue piercing I had when I was a young punk, and then the bacteria was able to quickly bore a hole towards the root and infect it. I've had maybe 3 cavities filled too. But I still have all of my teeth.

I had bleeding gums and deep pockets and was referred to a periodontist for possible scaling. I never went. But since I have adopted this carnivore way of eating 10.5 months ago, my gums have stopped bleeding. I can't get them to bleed no matter how hard I brush. They use to bleed just barely touching them. 

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