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November 4, 2002
The Good Old Days of Really Bad Teeth, Revisited
I was happy to see that Instapundit linked to my anti-Rosseau rant the other day. I hope it was therapeutic for everyone. I've received some interesting e-mail in response to it (none, yet, from any dentists.) There was one today from an archaeologist, though, who pointed out that the Indian populations who depending on corn typically ground it by hand between stones. This introduced a generous amount of grit into the resulting mean, which really did a severe job on the customer's teeth over the years. (Having seen and handled some of the grinding stones, I can attest to their grit-supplementing powers. The ones I remember were worn into sloping bowl shapes in the middle, and all that extra rock powder had to go somewhere. . .)
This wear allowed decay to set in even easier, and to cause quicker damage to the tooth once it did. The sugar content of the corn just added fuel to the bacterial fire, too. One thing that I hadn't thought about is what all this powdered rock did to the GI tracts of the consumers. It seems like a surefire recipe for intestinal trouble - I mean, fiber's a good thing and all, but no one's suggesting that folks eat handfuls of polishing compound. Does anyone have any information (or informed speculation?)
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