Tooth decay caries by pine nuts and acorns
Caries through pine nuts and acorns - Our ancestors suffered from tooth decay
Previous finds showed that our ancestors seldom suffered from tooth decay. Now, researchers have discovered remains of the Ibéromaurus in excavations in eastern Morocco, which showed far more common signs of tooth decay than previously thought. This primitive people lived about 15,000 years ago in the Middle and Late Stone Age in North Africa. Almost every bit found was rotten. Every second tooth of an adult had at least one hole. This was reported by a team of anthropologists around Louis Humphrey from the Museum of Natural History in London in the "Proceedings" of the US National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Hunters and gatherers rarely have tooth decay
This is unusual in that hunters and gatherers usually have very little caries. Tooth decay can occur when a lot of starch and sugar is eaten and there is not enough dental care. If the linings on the teeth are not regularly removed thoroughly, acids form, which attack and dissolve the enamel. Reason for this are the so-called „Streptococcus mutans“ Bacteria in the saliva of humans, which feed on the carbohydrates of the plaque and cause holes. The first signs of tooth decay are whitish to brownish spots on the teeth. Toothache occurs later, when the enamel is already broken. To some extent, this process can be stopped. However, if the caries is already too advanced, the dentist must remove the carious site and close the resulting hole with a filling.
Snails and acorns as food
The researchers found at the excavation sites vessels with larger plant remains such as acorn caps and pine nuts. Acorns and pine nuts are rich in carbohydrates, which can be decomposed by caries bacteria. Many remains of snails were found, which are also suspected to promote decay indirectly. "Although these are not known to cause tooth decay, abrasive particles from the snails may have contributed to the teeth becoming worn out," the researchers said. Tooth decay is one of the most prevalent infectious diseases in industrialized countries today. Frequently, caries occurs in childhood. The triggering bacteria can be transmitted by saliva from human to human. Tooth decay affects an average of about 15 teeth in adults aged 35 to 44, according to the fourth German oral health study. After all, more than 90 percent of teeth can be obtained through treatment. (Fr)
Image: Jerzy Sawluk