This letter is in response to the commentary by Dr. Robert Horseman, "The design error known as our teeth could be remedied by getting rid of, say, half of them."
A mistake? Would you also remove the tonsils, adenoids, appendix, thymus, and the spleen while you`re at it? You may think that this is a foolish statement, but these organs were routinely removed not too many years ago. Why did we take out these organs? We (medical establishment) thought that they performed no function in the body, hence the Creator made a mistake. Come to find out these organs are important parts of our lymphatic system. They produce and distribute the indispensable lympocytes and other specialized immunity cells. It seems that every time that we (medical establishment) think that we have outwitted Mother Nature, we have been wrong. It is our ignorance that is the problem, not a faulty design of our body.
All these teeth serve a purpose. These teeth, with all their grooves, increase the surface area for grinding up foods, especially vegetation. The mouth and teeth are intricate parts in the digestive process. Amylase (ptyalin) in the mouth starts the breakdown of starches. All these teeth are used to break down the cellulose membranes which allows the ptyalin to do its job. This is why it is very important to chew your food very thoroughly.
The Paleolithic hunters and gatherers ate mostly (two-thirds) vegetation and small amounts of meat depending on the season. The macronutrients were made up of about 60 percent carbohydrates, 20 percent protein, and 20 percent fat. Their teeth, like ours today, were needed for grinding up vegetation. Dental disease, especially caries and periodontal disease constitute the most prevalent health problem in the nation with 98 percent of the population affected. Dental health is greatly affected by our diets.
Weston Price, a dentist who carried out extensive studies of the dental health of ancient, primitive, and modern people and its relationship to their diet, noted that among 1,276 skulls of ancient Peruvian Indians, he didn`t find a single arch deformity. In comparison, as many as 75 percent of contemporary Americans studied exhibit malformations of the jaws and dental arches with their attendant orthodontic problems. His data on primitive Indians shows that close to 100 percent of their teeth are free of caries or faulty position. Diet, especially the Boston Cream pies, white flours, and the rest of the processed food eaten by the typical American, is causing the majority of dental problems.
The traditional diets of natural, unprocessed foods promote good health, including healthy teeth/mouth. It is our highly processed, protein-emphasized diet that is adversely affecting our health, not a faulty design of the body.
Merrimack, New Hampshire
Editor`s note: Dr. Robert Horseman is well-known for his writing of dental humor. Since this article was his first in RDH, perhaps some readers misinterpreted his style.