Thursday, June 28, 2012


Are the human teeth becoming redundant in terms of their original function of chewing food into more easily assimilable form because of the changed style of living that is in vogue to day? It appears so if modern food anthropological experts are to be believed and what they are saying has lot of logic too. The next question that follows is what role food industry has played in this transformation? It is true that to day's processed foods are more easily consumed with least assistance from the dental system because of the varied operations involved in converting raw food into a more consumer-friendly product but condemning teeth to the role of a personal decoration piece may be too far fetched as it has also a definite function in speech modulation. Here is an interesting critique on the passive role of teeth in food ingestion.

"Experts — including evolutionary biologists, food scientists and dental researchers — noted that our diet is so different from our ancestors' that dental health problems such as cavities, overbite and crooked or crowded teeth are inevitable. The conclusions were based on studies of ancient teeth, explains Simon Hillson, professor of bioarchaeology at University College London, who was there. 'Teeth are tough and survive particularly well — providing us with a wealth of anthropological data.' 'Not only are there exceptionally well-preserved examples of fossilised human ancestors available, we've been able to examine the teeth of people such as the Aboriginals and Kalahari bushmen who ate a hunter-gatherer diet like our pre-agricultural ancestors as recently as the 1950s.' The shift from hunter-gatherers to farmers, which started 13,000 years ago, is central to our modern dental problems. This has a direct effect on the development of our jaws, which are now smaller — too small to accommodate all our teeth. 'Our diets once consisted of everything in raw form — such as seeds, nuts, vegetables, meat and fruit,' explains Professor Jimmy Steele, head of the School of Dental Sciences at Newcastle University. 'Now it consists of foods that are often highly processed, pre-packaged, soft and full of sugar.' Our food is so soft in relation to what it was that our teeth are actually redundant, says Dr Nigel Carter of the British Dental Health Foundation. 'Shocking though it might sound, I'd say that apart from the necessity of teeth for appearance and speech, we probably no longer need them.' The arrival of sugar in Britain, at the start of the 19th century, also had a notable effect, adds Dr Carter: 'From that point, the state of our teeth plummeted.'

The new assertive campaigns by a few "naturalists" who propagate every thing that is anti food industry do not mean that man has to go back to the situation that obtained thousands of years ago when he has to hunt for food in fierce competition with free roaming wild beasts. To day's situation has more to do with man himself who brought about this through reckless and thoughtless actions including over consumption of foods rich in sugar, salt and fat besides promptly forgetting the need for exercise to be healthy. If dental decay and many related diseases have become so rampant, the culprit is none other than man himself, though industry and governments may have to share a portion of the blame for not discouraging "irresponsible" eating that is widely prevalent to day in many affluent societies. The multi billion dollar industry that revolves around "dental hygiene" and "dental decay" has a vested interest in continuing with the present practices and it looks like every body is happy!


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