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Oral hygiene from an evolutionary standpoint

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created November 06, 2010 at 5:10 AM

Mark Sisson has recently written about the possibility that our ancestors lived relatively long lives, a claim that would support the whole idea of paleo. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/bone-dating-life-span/

If our bodies were design to last up to, say, 70+ years, then how does oral hygiene fit into the picture for our ancestors? If they didn't floss and brush religiously, does this mean that they would have terribly rotten teeth but be otherwise pretty healthy?

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on November 07, 2010
at 06:56 PM

@GeekUSA -- do wild animals have rotten teeth?

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on November 06, 2010
at 03:53 PM

Exactly. Add fruit to the list, and then you're good. I know fruit is a contentious Paleo issue, and I think this is one of the points against it.

4e40d2b9e1a762949a25b958762aa10d

(762)

on November 06, 2010
at 03:01 PM

What about the fructose in fruit, which I believe oral bacteria prefer?

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7 Answers

3
E3267155f6962f293583fc6a0b98793e

(1085)

on November 06, 2010
at 11:56 AM

Toothpaste in general is actually really bad for teeth. Nearly all commercial toothpaste has glycerin in them. The glycerin in it creates a film on the teeth. I think this is supposed to protect the teeth from plaque buildup and attack from bacteria. In fact the film prevents re-mineralization of the teeth from the minerals in the saliva. I have been brushing with sea salt for the last 30 days or so and finally have no bloody gums for the first time in my memory. I am 59 years old and can't remember a time when my gums didn't bleed when I brushed and flossed. Following is a fantastic article about this topic.

Recently Ramiel Nagel wrote a book called "Cure Tooth Decay" based on the work of Dr. Price. You can either buy his book or read the original research in Weston Price's classic Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.

Enamel Re-Mineralization Natural Treatments for Promoting Enamel Strengthening

2
3995458c8ba769c7e95d07a2e438d875

on November 08, 2010
at 12:06 PM

Here is an interesting point I think we need to entertain: Hunter Gatherers typically have MUCH better developed jaws and teeth alignment/spacing. I believe this would dramatically add to the the mouths inbuilt ability to remain clean and healthy... In modern mouths teeth are much more crowded and jammed together, so I think this could be creating a 'discordance' with how the gums, mouth and teeth would naturally work with each other. I have one of these modern crowded mouths, so this might be an example like barefoot shoes or fish oil where some technology is required to overcome a modern shortcoming.

I've certainly noticed dramatic improvement in mouth hygiene and breath since going Paleo, I also notice I hardly ever get that furry feeling on my teeth anymore which is incredible in itself. But I still brush (once a day) and floss, and with flossing I notice that after the occasional lazy break of a week or two, it typically hurts, my gums bleed a little bit, and the (sorry gross) stuff that comes out on the floss stinks ;) So I can certainly believe if I was a contemporary H&G, or had a perfect mouth, I may very well have no need for flossing or brushing, but based on my experience, for my mouth, brushing and flossing is a net-positive.

2
9bc6f3df8db981f67ea1465411958c8d

on November 06, 2010
at 08:11 PM

Get plenty of magnesium and fat soluble vitamin K2 and D, don't eat grains and sugary foods and say goodbye to tooth problems.

2
286a4ff7c362241c5c4b020df4972212

on November 06, 2010
at 05:58 AM

Have you not noticed a change in your teeth since going Paleo??? I dont seem to need to clean them as much - in fact don't use toothpaste anymore - no plaque on them = no cavities!

2
3a325ffc389f14f090ca464b95e72914

(205)

on November 06, 2010
at 05:31 AM

If you don't eat sugar, or grains that become sugar with saliva, then there is nothing to cause tooth decay.

4e40d2b9e1a762949a25b958762aa10d

(762)

on November 06, 2010
at 03:01 PM

What about the fructose in fruit, which I believe oral bacteria prefer?

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on November 06, 2010
at 03:53 PM

Exactly. Add fruit to the list, and then you're good. I know fruit is a contentious Paleo issue, and I think this is one of the points against it.

1
62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on November 07, 2010
at 03:19 AM

Many native populations that do not brush their teeth have much healthier straighter teeth than most Americans. Now isn't that interesting! ;-)

0
8ce2e69af79dcb1488f776efc1c54052

on November 08, 2010
at 11:52 AM

One of the most noted things about the remains of pre agriculture humans was the lack of tooth decay. Check out "Pandora's Seed - The Unforeseen Cost of Civilization" by Spencer Wells for some great information on this.

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