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Author Topic: What was the tooth decay prevalance in prehistory?  (Read 4118 times)

Daria

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Korochkina Daria  asked the Naked Scientists:
   
Speaking about primeval men. I have heard that the caries disease is to be found only among 1 of 100 hunters and gatherers, whereas every 2nd farmer  50 of 100) is subjected to caries.

Wasn't the food that the farmers grew nutritious enough? I wonder whether today our teeth are more healthy than our hunting and gathering ancestor's were.

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 24/10/2011 03:30:03 by _system »

OokieWonderslug

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What was the tooth decay prevalance in prehistory?
« Reply #1 on: 25/10/2011 22:08:45 »
When I was a child my father dug lots of indian artifacts. I saw hundreds of teeth. Still have a few. Most were worn out from use, but had no cavities. In fact, can't say I ever saw any cavities in indian teeth.

imatfaal

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What was the tooth decay prevalance in prehistory?
« Reply #2 on: 26/10/2011 10:35:07 »
Sugar was at a premium - and it is sugars that acting with tooth-born bacteria that create acidic compounds that cause dental decay.  As Ookie mentioned there was a lot of wear (lots of impurities in ground grain etc) and people died much younger; so less time for decay to occur and more chance for it to be worn away.

CliffordK

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What was the tooth decay prevalance in prehistory?
« Reply #3 on: 27/10/2011 19:54:31 »
There certainly were cavities in all ancient humans and hominids. 

But, the prevalence rate I'm seeing was much lower, perhaps on the order of 1% to 5% of the teeth recovered in ancient teeth.  As many skulls are missing teeth, I assume they can identify teeth that have been lost before the death of the specimen.

http://www.uic.edu/classes/osci/osci590/11_1Epidemiology.htm


Here is a good review article about ancient Tooth Decay.
http://www.benthamscience.com/open/toanthj/articles/V003/SI0001TOANTHJ/12TOANTHJ.pdf

This discusses ancient dentistry care as far back as 7,000 BC.
http://roadtickle.com/ancient-dental-care-and-instruments/



CliffordK

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Re: What was the tooth decay prevalance in prehistory?
« Reply #4 on: 20/02/2012 19:03:34 »
Certainly tooth decay existed in prehistory.

Here are a couple of Mayan Sculptures, I presume from at least 500 years ago, perhaps much older.




I can't tell if they are two depictions of the same figure, or different figures.  Obviously depictions of bad teeth in sculptures is not indicative of the overall prevalence of tooth decay, but it is at least an indication that it occurred, especially in the elderly.

Many ancient skulls appear to be missing teeth, but without knowing more about both the skulls and dentistry, it would be hard to tell if the teeth were lost before or after death.


cheryl j

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Re: What was the tooth decay prevalance in prehistory?
« Reply #5 on: 21/02/2012 05:57:30 »
One reason tooth decay might not have been as bad as we'd expect is that according to a story I heard on CBC, decay is worse if sugary food bathes the teeth for an extended period of time, as with constant snacking, sipping on sugary drinks, etc. Primitive man may not have eaten as regularly, limitiing the amount of time for that to occur.

JimBob

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Re: What was the tooth decay prevalance in prehistory?
« Reply #6 on: 29/02/2012 01:53:02 »

Many ancient skulls appear to be missing teeth, but without knowing more about both the skulls and dentistry, it would be hard to tell if the teeth were lost before or after death.



Most tooth loss in skulls is due to the death of the tooth and surrounding bone. The way to tell is by looking at the tooth socket. As with the above skull, the tooth sockets are open. When a ling person or animal looses a tooth, the surrounding bone grows into the space taken by the tooth's root.

It is easy to see that an open socket invites germs and infection into the body by providing a wet, dark place for the infection to grow. By filling in the socket, the body  protects itself from death.

Man - that kid had a funnly-looking head!

nicephotog

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Re: What was the tooth decay prevalance in prehistory?
« Reply #7 on: 18/04/2012 07:45:15 »
 
Quote
I wonder whether today our teeth are more healthy than our hunting and gathering ancestor's were.

A bit of a problem is no real way of comparing health, To survive any appreciable lifespan requires eating and after civilisation beyond settlements , with the oncoming control of peoples movements by jurisdiction, the food substances available would serve no true value to compare the result upon teeth, but probably better in pre history settlement because the food stuffs could be better chosen or continued of supply(context: replaced to another substance as needed to continue "overall bodily health - and thus teeth") with less competition against aggressors/competors.
The paleo diet is an interesting problem after pre history settlements because of the problem of criminal laziness as a concept(parasite), "less for everyone".


 

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