When I was younger I always used to wonder how did our ancestors ever survive without toothbrushes and toothpaste? Didn’t they all lose their teeth by the time they were 15? I brushed my teeth twice a day, went to the dentist every six months and STILL got cavities. Our ancestors must have been chewing apples with their gums right?
Well it turns out that our hunter-gathere ancestors didn’t get cavities. Like ever.
And when I switched to a paleo diet two years ago I stopped getting cavities as well. I skipped out on the dentist for two years and when I showed up.. Zero cavities. I had cut out all the processed sugars that I was sure was mucking up my teeth and gums. But it turns out that the answer as to why Hunter-gatherer’s didn’t get cavities might be even a little more complex than that.
In a study published in the journal Nature Genetics, a team of Australian scientists have come up with a different hypothesis. Yes processed sugars ruin your teeth, but our ancestor’s teeth went bad long before the invention of Coca Cola. It all started with the invention of agriculture and our diet changing from that of meat and vegetables to now eating carbohydrate rich foods such as wheat and barley. The problem with this change in diet is that harmful bacteria, especially adapt at feeding off of these carbohydrates began to flourish in our new bread and pasta eating mouths and won out over the friendly bacteria that were the original inhabitants. This lead to gum disease, cavities, and perhaps even diseases not normally associated with the mouth such as diabetes and heart disease. The effect of having your mouth in a state of constant immune response in order to fight off bad bacteria can lead to problems elsewhere in the body.
Just another reason to ditch the grains and start eating Paleo. Avoiding a mouthful of harmful bacteria.