Gum Disease and the Evolution of Diet

Dr. Versman, Dr. Heller, and Dr. Beckman know that periodontal disease (gum disease) is a silent and unnoticeable disease that can be caused by many factors such as: home care, genetics, smoking, missing teeth, and the list goes on.  However, it is now seen that the evolution of our diet has been added to the list of causing gum disease.
These changes occurred when diet transferred from hunting and gathering to farming and then again to manufacturing food.  Scientists extracted DNA from calcified tartar from 34 prehistoric skeletons, and oral bacteria found in these aged teeth were more greatly diverse than those found in our teeth today. Professor Keith Dobney stated, “I had shown tartar deposits, commonly found on ancient teeth, were dense masses of solid calcified bacteria and food, but couldn’t identify the species of bacteria.  Ancient DNA was the obvious answer.” The correlation is between the decreasing types of bacteria and increases periodontitis in the American population. As some of the scientists have said, this has “shed some light on the health consequences of the evolving diet and behavior from the Stone Age to modern day.”
In fact, gum disease is now affecting over 75% of Americans.  Patients may not be brushing as much as Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman would like, but there also must be another change sparking this growth in the disease.  Diet has a huge effect on teeth as the oral cavity is the first point of contact, and it is scary to think about what chemicals and compounds are now in our food.  Most diets are composed of food coming from a conveyor belt, not fresh from the land.  For example, sugar can now be found in almost every food and drink item.  Sugar not only causes cavities, especially in combination with highly acidic drinks, but sugar feeds infection causing bacteria.

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