Tooth Decay: Not Just A Modern Problem
The modern diet is often blamed for the rising number of cases of tooth decay: we’ve mentioned previously the horrifying statistics that show up to 50% of Australian kids having at least one decayed tooth. In Canberra, like many Australian cities, our kids often have access to a lot of sugary and acidic foods. So while our water is fortified with fluoride and our access to quality toothbrushes, toothpastes, floss and dental care is generally very good, unfortunately too many kids (and adults) experience decay.
It’s easy for us to imagine that this is a very modern problem, since sugar and even honey was difficult to come by in ancient times.
However, we came across some recent research that shows some ancient diets were also the cause of tooth decay amongst ancient people.
In a study by the National History Museum in the UK, the dentition of skeletons of 52 people found in a cave in Morocco and dating back between 15,000-13,000 years were examined.
Researchers discovered that more than half of the teeth that were intact showed evidence of tooth decay. Only three skeletons showed no sign of cavities.
It was thought that these people existed on a staple diet of edible acorns, nuts, and plant foods —all of which are rich in carbohydrates. Large carbohydrate molecules can break down into simple sugars in the human mouth. These sugars were probably the cause of the decay in these cases.
The modern diet often contains complex carbohydrates: breads, crackers, pasta as well as sugars. It’s important to remember that carbohydrates of any kind pose a risk to dental health. So no matter what you (and your kids) have consumed today, make sure you brush and floss your teeth every day!