How Agriculture May Have Punched Us in the Mouth

Dental assistant education

The American Dental Association (with all its trusty American dental associates) is all about promoting the health of your teeth. But it may not simply be a matter of job security. In fact, when it comes to dental care American dental associates may deserve grateful thanks on behalf of the entire species.

In prehistoric times, there were no dentists, not from lack of technology or scarcity of medical research, but from lack of need… the prehistoric mouth was far healthier than the modern mouth. The “paleo diet” (which was just called “the diet” back then) was the ideal way to keep those teeth and gums healthy and happy, with just the right balance of beneficial bacteria. But when we stopped hunting, ceased gathering, and took to the fields to farm our food, the sudden change to our diet made that bacterial balance shift, and the human mouth began to experience a period of dental disaster that we are just now beginning to properly address.

In fact, one would expect that, once paleo humans settled down and tended to their farms, this less dangerous lifestyle would lead to longer life expectancy. But the life expectancy of early agricultural man plateaued. Whatever years they may have gained by staying home and farming, they lost by having the poor oral hygiene that the farming lifestyle created. Only recently have we begun to unravel this mystery and link the overall health of the body so closely with dental health.

What does this mean for all our intrepid American dental associates and their corresponding Association? It means that dentist jobs and dentist assistant jobs will be in high demand in the coming decade. As more links are uncovered between oral health and overall health, people will be making more and more trips to the dentist for regular cleanings, checkups, and minor procedures.

What does this mean for the modern mouth? It means that, while there are more options for treatment and care, we should take a step back and examine the reasons we need treatment and care in the first place. The paleo diet has its basis in millions of years of evolutionary precedence. It may not be feasible to reduce everything you eat to meat, nuts, and berries… but it might not hurt to add a bit more to your diet. Just in case.

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