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Tooth Decay Troubled Moroccan Hunter-Gatherers

Tuesday, January 07, 2014


Moroccon Paleo-TeethRABAT, MOROCCO—An examination of the skeletal remains of 52 sedentary hunter-gatherers who lived in Morocco more than 13,000 years ago has revealed that 49 of them suffered from tooth decay in more than half of their surviving teeth. Scientists blame the sticky, high-carbohydrate and nutty plant foods in the diet consumed at the Grotte des Pigeons complex at Taforalt, which included snails, sweet acorns, pine nuts, and pistachios. “At a certain point, the tooth nerve dies but up until that moment, the pain is very bad and if you get an abscess the pain is excruciating because of the pressure on the jaw. Then, of course, the bone eventually perforates and the abscess drains away, and we see this in a lot of the jaw remains that we studied,” said Louise Humphrey of London’s Natural History Museum.