Moroccan Stone Age hunters’ rotten teeth
By Jonathan Amos Science correspondent, BBC News
Scientists have found some of the earliest evidence for widespread tooth decay in humans. It comes from the skeletal remains of Stone-Age hunter-gatherers who lived in what is now Morocco more than 13,700 years ago.
The researchers tell the PNAS journal that the individuals were eating a lot of high-carbohydrate nutty foods.
The poor condition of their teeth suggests they were often in agony.
“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,” explained Dr Louise Humphrey, from London’s Natural History Museum.
Well that would explain a lot. I must have been eating too many high-carbohydrate nutty foods as, yet again my choppers are giving me serious aggro, and I have been in agony now for, on and off, a month. It will come as no surprise to my regular reader in Penge that I have teeth issues again. My molars have had the doctors baffled for years and their range of colours and hues have kept my friends and colleagues amused for just as long.
I wonder if when these Stone-Age hunter-gatherers popped round to see what their local NHS dentist (you remember the NHS, don’t you ?) could do for them, they were given an ‘estimate’ for the work of 700 quid ?
Cos that’s how much I was quoted.
Now £700 is not something to be sniffed at. In the present climate of poor trade and nervous consumers (whatever your mate Gideon will have you believe) I’d have to sell quite a lot of T-shirts to clear £700. About 700, since you ask. And this was only an estimated figure. After antibiotics, cleaning & polishing (once an optional extra, now compulsory) and trips to the hygienist it’ll run into a good deal more.
When I was growing up (yes, I do have a good memory) estimates were given for carpet-laying, wall-rendering or engine-overhauling. It was rather worrying to think that my dentist, evil-looking man with a drill and pliers in his hand, considered the work I needed in my mouth to be so extensive and major enough to give me a rough guess of how much it might cost. This treatment didn’t tally with his usual price list.
“Give or take a couple of hundred pounds” he added.
(He didn’t say that, but that’s what he meant.)
So, before the festive season began I underwent two, count ’em, TWO root canal procedures, one in my Upper Right Second Molar, the other in my Lower Right Oh Fuck Me That Hurts Premolar. The second of these treatments seem to involve the Doc taking a threaded needle, screwing it down deep into the tooth then pulling it out quickly so that, not only the root, but my right big toenail were wrenched from their housings.
So, several hundred pounds lighter (in cash, not in weight) I returned home to enjoy Christmas with The Incumbent, a bottle of malt whisky and a demijohn of antibiotics, content in the knowlege that although expensive, my Xmas would at least be toothache-free.
That was December 20th 2013.
On December 22nd 2013 I woke to feel a slight nagging pain in my tooth. This time the ache was from my Lower Left First Molar (do keep up).
“That’s a bugger,” I thought to myself, “I’ll have to go back and see the dentist in the New Year. More Money ! Oh well, at least the pain is not too bad”.
On the 24th the nagging pain had turned into the sort of pain usually associated with a Mossad interrogation, or listening to Robbie Williams ‘crooning’. I was in pain, a lot of pain and my dentist wasn’t open until January 6th. I decided to tough it out. I upped the doses of antibiotics and Lagavulin and vowed to Ho Ho Hic my way through it.
On the 30th of December, having had a rather sweaty few of days of grimacing and eating only one one side, thoughts of the pain in my Lower Left were completely overshadowed by excruciating burning pain I now received from my Upper Right (one of the original offenders). I was in serious discomfort now, yet I was still a week away from my dentist opening up again for business.
“Why didn’t you just find an emergency 24hr Dentist to treat you?” I hear you ask.
When you are cursed with a fear of dentists as I am and millions like me are, it really is a case of “Better the Devil you Know”. Strange dental surgeons scare me, (see below pic).
A week on a cocktail of Ibuprofen, Paracetemol, Orajel, Amoxicillin, (other suicide kits are available), Clove Oil, Glenfidich, Glenmorangie, Glencampbell, Glenclose, Glenanythingaslongasthissoddingtoothstopshurting drags by until the 5th (Sunday) when I feel with my tongue an odd lump on a porcelain crown I had fitted a few years ago. With the walk of a condemned man heading to the gallows, or to a Harry Potter movie, I trudge up to the bathroom and to the mirror therein.
There, as clear as day, is the unmistakeable sight of a crack running the whole length of my crown. It’s has decided this would be a good time to split in half (well! I was going to the dentist anyway, wasn’t I ?).
Yesterday I left the dental surgery clutching another in a long line of prescriptions for antibiotics, and a card with the times of four more appointments to see the surgeon. Two for the THIRD in a series of root canal treatments (Lower Left First Molar) and two to have my freshly-split crown replaced.
KPMG have been assigned the case and I expect to receive their final estimated figures of the cost within weeks.
Oh yes, Happy New Year, by the way.