The Future and Its Teeth

Brushing my teeth earlier today I thought back to when I had my wisdom teeth removed. I remember wondering what people did about their crowded mouths before modern dentistry came along, and how it occurred to me that they probably didn't get to be my age with a full set of teeth. Sure, some must have. But the average Joe probably lost a couple or more teeth in his youth. Having too many teeth is probably a modern phenomenon. And thank the Fates for that problem. It's easier and less expensive to yank a few than to plant a few.

It's true that the advance of civilization has some drawbacks. But weighed against the old problems, these are preferable. The automobile is a classic example. Yes, I now have to sit in traffic if I want to go anywhere outside of walking distance, and that is a real pain in the ass. I hate breathing car exhaust. But the places I can travel now—not after saving up for years for a ticket on a cramped ship, and not with all my belongings packed and vulnerable to raid behind me—and the job opportunities make it more than worth it. If I feel like going to the mountains for the weekend, I just grab a jacket and a sleeping bag and away I go. Instead of having to work right next to my house, I can pick and choose from jobs all over the city.

Next time you hear people pine for the old days, tell them they really have nice smiles with those full sets of teeth.

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I agree with the general

I agree with the general premise that progress is good, but historically people had good teeth without ever seeing a dentist - if you go far enough back in history. Hunter gatherers have good teeth. Next time you watch one of those National Geographic specials check out the teeth on those Masai warriors. Also think about animals in the wild. They have good teeth without seeing dentists. Anthrophologists find good teeth on paleolithic skeletons, but once the neolithic era of settled agriculture began, people got shorter and teeth started to get worse. The worst period for bad teeth was after refined carbs like sugar entered our diet but before mdoern dentistry.

It's not a matter of having

It's not a matter of having too many teeth. Ideally the dental arch should be large enough to hold all 32 of them. Failure to do so is a phenomenon that has---I think---been increasing in recent generations, although there's no real consensus on the cause. Possible explanations include genetic factors, nutrition, and less mechanical stress on the teeth (from eating softer food).

Didn't anyone care about the

Didn't anyone care about the buggy-whip industry? To say nothing about the actual horse-drawn-carriage industry....

Just like the various

Just like the various anti-progress, anti-science, anti-capitalism types who wear eyeglasses, let alone contact lenses.