I got super excited today when I searched Google News today and saw this...
All three articles linked to a study recently published in the scientific journal PNAS (snicker) called "Global human mandibular variation reflects differences in agricultural and hunter-gatherer subsistence strategies" by Noreen von Cramon-Taubadel.
The abstract reads as follows:
"Variation in the masticatory behavior of hunter-gatherer and agricultural populations is hypothesized to be one of the major forces affecting the form of the human mandible. However, this has yet to be analyzed at a global level. Here, the relationship between global mandibular shape variation and subsistence economy is tested, while controlling for the potentially confounding effects of shared population history, geography, and climate. The results demonstrate that the mandible, in contrast to the cranium, significantly reflects subsistence strategy rather than neutral genetic patterns, with hunter-gatherers having consistently longer and narrower mandibles than agriculturalists. These results support notions that a decrease in masticatory stress among agriculturalists causes the mandible to grow and develop differently. This developmental argument also explains why there is often a mismatch between the size of the lower face and the dentition, which, in turn, leads to increased prevalence of dental crowding and malocclusions in modern postindustrial populations. Therefore, these results have important implications for our understanding of human masticatory adaptation."
If you noticed the bit about "masticatory stress", then you get the gist of the authors explanation. Basically, she (and the subsequent "science" journalism) focus entirely on the idea that "soft" foods are what led to our agricultural ancestors (and by extension, us) having bad teeth. She seems to also think that cooking coincided with the advent of agriculture (the use of fire actually predates the Paleolithic, stretching all the way back into middle Pleistocene).
There is not a single bit of exploration into the possible role of nutrition in the development of crowded teeth (Weston A. Price would must be rolling in his grave) and I couldn't believe that none of the coverage of the paper broached the topic as well.
I felt pretty annoyed (so much so that I banged out a quick post, "Do You Have 'Farmer Face'") and wanted to know, is there any way that "hard" foods could actually lead to a larger, roomier jaw? Or, is this in fact BS (which is my feeling) and crowded teeth are more likely due to (possibly multi-generational) nutrient deficiencies?
I hadn't been to the dentist in over 10 years and while my check-up went pretty well--and subsequent cleaning the following week in which the hygenist stated "you do a pretty good job, you can probably wait another year before your next cleaning" I hadn't told her how long it had been-- the dentist scheduled me for wisdom teeth removal. None the wiser, I went along although the fact that another tooth had burst out the side of my gums at the age of 27, much to my surprise, may have had something to do with it.
The supernumerary tooth was actually why I made the appointment initially. Anyhow long story short the guy who pulled my wisdom teeth and the supernumerary complimented me on my "stoicness"--stereotype much?--told me he'd 'retire if he had to pull teeth like that every day' as I had 'large roots with hooks on the end' then added that 'your jaw is big enough you probably didn't need to have your wisdom teeth pulled'- but would happy I did.
I'm not. Now food gets stuck between my rear molars after every meal and irritates my gums. But in reference to your question I know that my lack of crowded teeth has to be due to my ancestors relatively recent exposure to modern food/diet. My grandparents still ate mostly wild game and salmon and my mother did until adolescence.
Thats a good question. I recall in high school a dentist talking to me about having my wisdom teeth removed before they came in. Never had it done. I'm now one of the very few people I know with all my teeth. Never any jaw pain, ear or headaches. Never braces either. Last time to the dentist they just remarked, wow you sure do have a mouth full of teeth. Glad I never gave em a chance to take something out just cause it was the standard.
Many people each year die from eating peanut brittle. You might say how. Let me tell you how. One time their was an old man who ate some peanut brittle. While eating peanut brittle his tooth accidentally broke. He than went into severe shock causing him to choke. While Choking on a peanut he then somehow managed to have his tooth that broke off end up into his lung. With the tooth in his lung while having severe abdominal cramps. His coughing caused his tooth inside his lung to scrape the lining of his lung then to puncture it. With a punctured lung he lived for about five minutes. The whole result of this death was caused by eating a piece of peanut brittle. So remember be careful while eating peanut brittle!!!