Paleopathology’s Depiction Of Prehistoric Dental Diseases: Agriculture’s Negative Effects On The Human Time Capsule.

1794 words - 8 pages

Teeth are the time capsules of the human body and serve as a marker of dental diseases, diets, and the oral hygiene of an individual. Teeth seem to be one of the most important found human remains in Archaeological sites and one of the most studied in Paleopathology. It is because of the fine preservation of teeth, in Archaeological sites, that we can study and depict the contributing factors that are the cause of dental diseases in prehistoric and modern times. In Paleopathology a mixture of factors like diets and oral hygiene can cause a series of different serious dental diseases. The introduction of Agriculture in prehistoric societies, a major change in diet within certain populations around the world, sheds light on the rising and high frequencies seen of dental diseases; the most prevalent being dental Caries that could be linked to dental Abscesses, Periodontal disease, Ante-mortem tooth loss, and the dental disease seen in children Localized Hypoplastic Enamel Defects (LHPC). In addition, diseases like dental Attrition due to Erosion/Abrasion wear and dental Calculus also affect these societies.
The introduction of agriculture negatively affects the dental health in prehistoric population due to mixtures of high carbohydrates (sucrose and starch) intake along with little to absence of oral hygiene causing plaque build up producing bacteria. Evidence shows that the exposure of foods like maize and cane sugar, which are high in sucrose content, oral hygiene, the introduction of other agriculture/agricultural foods and nutrients are the cause of rising dental diseases like caries. As stated by Roberts and Manchester (2005:65) all of those factors must be considered, as there is not a specific factor that is recognized as the main cause of the disease. The measurement of the rise pertaining to dental diseases in Paleopathology and Archaeology are seen and studied mainly in sites located in Asia and a few in Europe. Moore and Corbett (1971:166) explain that these areas, Britain in specific, were not introduced to agriculture cane sugar until the 12th century, when it became a major part of the European diet. These areas in the world had high starch and protein diets before the introduction of sucrose, one of the additional factors that can cause caries, derived from sugar cane. It is not until this agricultural introduction that we notice the increase of dental diseases and negative effects, starting with dental caries.

Dental Caries
As mentioned before dental Caries is the most prevalent dental disease, classified as an infectious disease that can be the cause of other dental diseases. Caries are the most common disease and often reported in archaeological sites worldwide in agricultural populations as supposed to hunter-gatherers, according to Keenleyside (2007:264). A table in Halcrow (2013:413-414) shows the most recent occurrences of carious populations after the increase in agricultural dependency in comparison to those from...

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