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Can Weeds Prevent Tooth Decay?

In a Dentistry iQ article by Vicki Cheeseman, she discussed a study where using weeds for tooth decay prevention was presented.

Read the article “How weeds may have helped prevent tooth decay in ancient people” here:

When you were a kid, did you ever sneak a taste of grass?

Or perhaps a tiny bit of a plant or dirt?

You know, if the dog eats it, why can’t we, right?

A recent study published in PLOS ONE spoke of a new scientific analysis of skeletons of ancient people living in Sudan 2,000 years ago.

The people would eat a tuber known as purple nutsedge or nutgrass – one of the world’s most invasive weeds – without second thought.

This nasty weed is highly resistant to herbicides and spreads underground as if on a mission. Yet, this very weed has been shown to slow the growth of bacteria widely implicated in tooth decay.

When scientists delved deeper into their study of ancient life, they found that the early human population generally had relatively few cavities. Part of this is due to the fact that their diet was light on carbs and heavier on meat.

The antibacterial properties of nutsedge may also have boosted the oral health of the people. However, much is still unknown.

Further back – 8,700 years to be exact, even before modern farming – an analysis shows that ancient people in Sudan also were consuming nutgrass.

Researchers speculate that the weed could have served as both a nutritious meal and a primitive antibacterial medicine. They surmise that since medicine doesn’t usually taste good, the bitter-tasting weed would indeed fit the bill.

Summed up, just today, what we eat has a definite effect on our oral health, for better or for worse.

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