Evolution and Infection
The human race has evolved greatly from living in nature, hunting and gathering, to the modern day person stopping at McDonald’s on the way home from work. This change in lifestyle and diet has impacted the human health, both bodily and orally, in a negative way. This new diet has increased the need for periodontists like Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman as many Americans are now living in a permanent diseased state. The soft and sugar based foods we are eating are changing the way bacteria lives and the physical components of the jaw resulting in discomfort and infection.
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 Beckmanwould 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.
There are approximately 10,000,000 wisdom teeth removed each year. Why is that?
During times of hunting and gathering, jaw bones were long and narrow. In the present day, our jaws have transformed to be both shorter and wider. It is believed that the jaws found in our ancestors were better suited to grind and decompose hard food items. In today’s world, we heavily rely on agriculture and farming which creates a softer diet. Over time, the jaw has conformed to the physical needs of a new diet.
This theory was researched when von Cramon-Taubadel studied skull specimens from 11 populations around the world. Five of the groups lived off hunting and gathering while the remaining six groups relied on a farming lifestyle. It is through this quest of understanding evolution that supported the interactions between culture, farming, and the effects on our evolving anatomy.
Our modern day noggins are now crowded, leading to the misalignment of our teeth, and often the need to remove wisdom teeth. Since jaws of modern societies are now shorter, they “are not big enough to accommodate the size of our teeth,” von Cramon-Taubadel said. Periodontal Associates is not surprise that there are an estimated 5 million Americans with braces trying to straighten, align teeth, and fight against the natural progression of crowding.
Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman have to, at times, extract teeth due to this crowding, but a more prominent problem treated at Periodontal Associates caused by orthodontics is gum recession. When teeth are moved too quickly, the gums can retract and gum grafts are needed to prevent sensitivity and tooth loss.
If you are fighting gum disease or an un-even, painful smile, Dr. Ken Versman, Dr. Doug Heller, and Dr. Eric Beckman can help you. You can’t fight evolution, so click here to schedule an exam or call (303) 755-4500 to answer all your questions. Remember, gum disease is a sneaky disease as often people do not realize they have it until it reaches a severe state. At that point, it can result in tooth loss, bone loss, and the need for dental implants. Don’t let gum disease sneak up on you. Visit Periodontal Associates in Aurora today.