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This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

Working Title: Eternally Pearly White Teeth: From YKTTW

Nornagest: Honestly, I question the validity of this trope in a lot of contexts. It's been a while since I took any archaeology classes, but as I recall a lot of the cultures we studied had remarkably few tooth problems — probably a result of living in an environment without much of the kind of processed food that makes a good substrate for bacteria. About the only exceptions I remember were a few cultures of the American Midwest and Southwest, which were specifically noted as having higher rates of tooth decay than their neighbors — the results of sedentary agricultural societies using (high-sugar, easily chewed) maize as a staple.

Now, if we're talking postcolonial settings that nonetheless take place before modern dentistry...

  • Johnny E: Tempted to agree with you. I mean broken, uneven or infected teeth, fair enough - you'd expect them to be bigger problems before dentistry came along. But yellowness and plaque are problems caused by eating loads of refined sugar, and from what I've heard didn't become an issue 'til Tudor times.