By Alex Shvartsman, DDS, MAGD, AIOMT
I have been following the Paleo Diet since 2001, after reading Lauren Cordain’s The Paleo Diet. As a Biology major, and student of human evolution it just made sense. I have fallen off the wagon many times, succumbing to sugars sweet and deadly call. But Robb Wolf’s The Paleo Solution finally put it all into perspective and I have been “clean” ever since. As a dentist I see the ravages of disease every day. After looking at medical histories of my patients for over 20 years I am convinced that most of our chronic degenerative diseases are a direct result of the disconnect between our biology and the unnatural environment humans have created. We live in a world of convenience, and pay for it with our health. Nature gets it right, humans mess nature up. It’s really that simple and that tragic. This article will explore this from a dental perspective.
How feeding influences your child’s jaw development.
Did you know that humans are the only animals on this planet that have crooked teeth? In fact, our ancestors had perfectly straight teeth, with room for all of their wisdom teeth! Straight teeth and well-formed jaws are our birthright.
Recent research has shed some light on why today most everyone has some degree of crowding, misaligned teeth, and impacted wisdom teeth. It has to do with how we feed our children.
It turns out that the development of the upper jaw is highly dependent on breast-feeding. During the first few years of life the upper jaw is made from 2 separate pieces. During breast-feeding the round shape of the breast helps to form and guide upper jaw shape and development. Children who are exclusively breast fed (like our ancestors) have round upper jaw arches that lead to enough room for straight teeth and that broad white smile we all find so appealing! When babies are bottle-fed with the typical narrow man-made bottle the upper jaw becomes constricted leading to a narrow upper jaw arch. The consequences of this unnatural deformity are crowded and misaligned teeth, high vault palate, breathing problems, large adenoids and the frequent colds, narrow unattractive smile, cross bite, and speech problems, to name a few. It is no wonder that palatal expanders are frequently used to correct this upper jaw deformity created by man-made, unnaturally shaped narrow shaped bottles. While breast-feeding is the best way to feed your baby, if for some reason you are unable to breast-feed, it is advisable to purchase anatomically shaped nipples and bottles.
The development of the lower jaw depends on the consistency of the food we feed our children. Today our modern baby food is highly processed and refined. Electric food processors create an extremely mushy baby food, which does not require any chewing. In contrast, our ancestors fed their children much less processed food that may have been pre-chewed or ground in a mortar and pestle type of device. Recent studies have demonstrated that a natural hunter-gatherer diet lead to normal sized lower jaws, while our highly processed modern diet retards lower jaw growth, leading to lower jaw deficiencies. Improper lower jaw development leads to crooked lower teeth, a “weak chin” and less ideal facial structure.
Combined together, improperly formed jaws lead to impacted wisdom teeth. In fact, our jaws are 11% smaller than that of our hunter-gatherer ancestors who lived just about 10,000 years ago. Our modern civilization has given us a life of convenience at a great cost to our health, which we are just beginning to realize.
How to eliminate tooth decay naturally.
To answer this question we need to go back…back in time. You may not realize this, but tooth decay was virtually non-existent 10,000 years ago. In fact, tooth decay is a relatively modern disease, first seen in the archeological record with the advent of grain consumption, which led to farming. Tooth decay as well as many other diseases is what used to be called “diseases of civilization” until it became politically incorrect. However, it is a very fitting name, and it includes cardio-vascular disease, strokes, heart attacks, many cancers, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, food allergies, and autoimmune diseases such as Lupus, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, Type I diabetes, vitiligo, psoriasis, etc.
Approximately10,000 years ago humans began transitioning from living as hunter-gatherers to farming. Agriculture has turned out to be a double edge sword. It allowed humans to develop civilization and technology at the expense of our health. Today at the highest point of human civilization and technological achievement we are sicker than we have ever been before and it is going to get worse! We went from a diet that we evolved to eat for 2 million years, a diet that gave us our large and impressive brain, to a diet that in the short 10,000 years of agriculture has become full of processed foods that are foreign to our metabolism.
We evolved eating a diet of meat, fish, poultry (and the fat that came along with these animals) and seasonal veggies and fruit. Skeletons of our ancestors showed perfectly straight teeth with zero cavities. These skeletons also showed people with strong robust bones with muscle insertions similar to today’s top athletes. Of the little over 200 remaining pockets of hunter gatherers left today none of these people show any signs of tooth decay or any other disease of civilization.
Our agricultural diet is full of foods that we are not designed to eat. These foods include grains, legumes, dairy, plant oils, and exorbitant levels of fructose found in processed food and unnaturally sweet fruit that are available to us year round. The unnaturally enormous levels of carbohydrates as well as antinutrients and toxins found in these “evolutionarily foreign” foods are making us sicker and sicker.
Grains and legumes are the seeds of plants. Since plants have no claws, teeth, or legs the only defense against their seeds being eaten is biologic chemical warfare: toxins and antinutrients. Enough of these chemicals survive heating and digestion to wreak havoc on our health. Dairy is also an unnatural food. We are the only mammals on this planet that drink the milk of other mammals into adult hood. Milk makes babies grow and cow babies need to grow FAST! Not only is milk loaded with proteins that are toxic and allergic to humans, it is full of natural (and sometimes unnatural) growth hormones. Plant oils are loaded with omega 6 fatty acids that are pro-inflammatory and unnatural to our diet. Fruits have been bred to be large and sweet and are now available all year and together with High Fructose Corn Syrup found in everything from ketchup to soda are overloading our liver with fructose and destroying our health and teeth.
So if you want to stop cavities and cure yourself from “diseases of civilization”, begin eating and moving like our Paleolithic ancestors did!
Biomimetic Dentistry: dentistry in harmony with nature
Our teeth are a remarkable feat of biologic engineering. In fact, human teeth are designed so well that they have not changed for the past 200,000 years. Their perfect design is a balance between biologic, mechanical, functional, and esthetic parameters.
You may not realize this, but conventional dentistry was developed in the early 1800’s and is based on wood working principles and jewelry making techniques. Biomimetic literally means “Mimicking Biology”. Therefore, Biomimetic Dentistry is the reconstruction of teeth to emulate their natural biomechanical and esthetic form and function. Biomimetic Dentistry is the most current, science-supported approach to treating weak, fractured, and decayed teeth in a way that keeps them strong, seals them from bacterial invasion.
Nature had designed the root and the core of the tooth to be resilient; much like a tree is resilient to withstand the wind. This material is called dentin, which is 70 % crystal and 30 % collagen. It acts like a shock absorber during chewing. The trouble with dentin is that it is not wear-resistant. So nature capped it with a rock! The enamel that covers dentin is 99% crystal and 1% collagen.
When a rigid material such as metal: mercury-silver amalgam fillings, gold, and ceramic inlay are placed into the flexible dentin, over time the tooth usually cracks! In the other side of the spectrum are resin-composite fillings. The majority of these are much more flexible than the tooth and under function flex too much, tearing the bond between the filling and the tooth, leading to premature failure of the filling and secondary decay. So the rigid materials break the tooth, the flexible materials do not last long.
When teeth are restored biomimetically, using materials that replicate the physics of dentin and enamel, the filling acts in harmony with the tooth, in harmony with nature. Fortunately today there are a handful of materials that fit this paradigm.
It may surprise you, but most dentists do not create anatomically correct fillings. The filling is plugged into the tooth and the bite is ground in leaving a flat, amorphous blob of a filling. And crowns are even worse! However, the grooves, cusps, pits and fissures of the tooth are there for a reason. Nature does not waste energy for no reason. Form follows function. Replicating the correct anatomical form of each tooth allows teeth to function naturally. Most TMJ problems are man-made. Dentists create flat teeth and disrespect nature. (Maybe they are vegetarians and think we are herbivores with flat teeth).
Robb Wolf’s The Paleo Solution not only helped me lose 50 lbs, and look good naked, it changed my approach to dental care and benefited thousands of my patients in the process.