Hunter-gatherer diets great for teeth

Feb 27, 2013

If you took your childhood lessons to heart, you know there is a link between eating lots of sugar and having to get lots of fillings at the dentist.

You've probably heard: "Sugar will rot your teeth." Well, kind of. It's not the sugar that's rotting your teeth but the kind of bacteria eating the sugar. Hot off the presses this week comes news of a study published in Nature Genetics detailing how humans' diets have changed the bacteria in their mouths.

Hunter-gatherers and cavemen may have had hard lives, but their diets were very good to their teeth. Roughly 10,000 years ago, humans switched from eating mostly meat, nuts and vegetables to a farming-based, carbohydrate-rich diet. DNA from some 34 individuals living at the time have shown that the microbes that cause tooth decay -- or tooth bugs, as we call them in our office when we are talking to kids -- became more dominant as diets rich in carbohydrates became common. Processed flour and sugar introduced during the Industrial Revolution only exacerbated the problem, the researchers say.

When you come visit us you can be sure we will help give you the tools you need to keep your teeth healthy, even in a culture saturated with sugar. If you have questions about how your diet may be affecting your oral health, ask them at your next dental visit.

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