Interestingly, this isn’t new news. Dr. Adelbert Fernald, curator of the Harvard Dental School Museum from 1922 until 1936, found evidence of this after studying 90 impressions of teeth from Eskimos who lived in Smith Sound. These Eskimos lived farther north than any other humans and ate an average of “four ounces of vegetable matter each year per capita,” according to a decades-old article published in The Harvard Crimson.
In looking at the 616 teeth in the impressions brought back by noted Arctic explorer Commander Donald B. MacMillan, Dr. Fernald found just one tooth to be “deformed,” the article stated. Only seven teeth were missing in the models. Dr. Fernand said at the time that a review of impressions from the mouths of New England residents likely would identify more than 100 missing teeth.
Dr. Fernand went one more step to prove the benefits of a meat-based diet by also obtaining teeth impressions from Yucatan natives who ate diets consisting almost entirely of vegetables. He found that the teeth in those impressions were significantly decayed.
“At a surprisingly early age, their teeth lost all semblance of even a normally healthy condition, and most of them, when middle aged, had practically no teeth, whatever,” the article stated. “It has been the experience of most dentists that those people who have the healthiest teeth are those who eat the most meat, which points to the same conclusion as Dr. Fernald’s researches.”
In addition to retaining most of their teeth, many of the Smith Sound Eskimos’ teeth were perfect in nearly every way, including from an orthodontic standpoint, Dr. Fernald observed. He noted that arches were “even and well developed.”
“I should say that these people with so large arches are not mouth breathers, and therefore are not suffering from adenoids, enlarged tonsils, and so forth,” Dr. Fernald said in the article.
Additional research has indicated the oral health benefits of primitive diets in the years since this article was published. One recommendation that gets repeated time and again is the elimination of processed foods from diets.
The late Dr. Weston A. Price was a dentist who died in 1948. He and his wife, Florence, traveled the world investigating the teeth and health of people who lived in primitive cultures, such as those sequestered villages in Switzerland, Gaelic communities in the Outer Hebrides, Eskimos and Indians of North America, Melanesian and Polynesian South Sea Islanders, African tribes, Australian Aborigines, New Zealand Maori and the Indians of South America, according to The Weston A. Price Foundation.His goal was to identify why dental health was on the decline in the western world, in spite of improved dental hygiene practices. Time and again, he found that people who adhered to traditional diets that were free of processed foods were largely immune to tooth decay and possessed perfectly aligned teeth. He also observed that nutritional deficiencies seemed to promote many orthodontic problems such as crowded, crooked teeth and deformed dental arches, according to the foundation’swebsite.
Price analyzed the foods eaten by these peoples and found that “they provided at least four times the calcium and other minerals, and at least ten times the fat-soluble vitamins from animal foods such as butter, fish eggs, shellfish and organ meats,” the websitestated.
That brings us back to meat. In addition to being a good source of valuable protein, meat, poultry, fish, milk and eggs contain phosphorus, which plays a crucial role in the formation and maintenance of healthy teeth and gums in children and adults. Calcium promotes healthy jaw bones, but it needs phosphorus to achieve maximum bone strengthening benefits.
If you’re a podcast fan, you might have heard the carnivore diet mentioned in recent podcasts of The Joe Rogan Experience or Found My Fitness with Dr. Rhonda Patrick. Another popular diet these days is the ketogenic diet. Both of these eating plans feature foods that are low in carbohydrates and high in protein and fat. They focus heavily on meat.
As its name suggests, the carnivore diet features no vegetables. Instead, those who follow this diet stick to meat, organ meat, poultry, fish, eggs, lard, bone marrow, butter, salt, pepper, bone broth and water, according to Everyday Health.
There’s also a website called Meat Heals that lists lots of stories of people who have adhered to the carnivore diet and improved their health as a result. In a May post, a 63-year-old man claimed that four years of gum disease had been reversed as a result of his meat-eating ways. A dental checkup revealed no more deep periodontal pockets and no bleeding gums. Two other posts on the website also mention improved dental health.
Popular Canadian clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson switched to a carnivore diet and told Joe Rogan about it in July. In addition to crediting the diet with curing his depression, he also cited declining gum inflammation and recession as benefits of eating a meat-only diet.
This Reddit thread is includes discussion of oral health improvements as a result of eating lots of meat.
I’m not recommending that you follow any specific diet, particularly one that is as narrowly focused as the carnivore diet or event the keto diet. It’s best for you to consult your family physician for assistance in determining an eating plan that is best for you.
With that said, it is interesting to review the wealth of research that touts the benefits of eating foods in their natural state and avoiding heavily processed foods. We’ve heard for years about all sorts of systemic illnesses that have become more predominant in western cultures, and how in many cases, those illnesses seem to coincide with the advancement of heavily processed foods in our diets.
Have you altered your diet and experienced improved dental health as a result? Let us know in the comments. We would love to hear your story!