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An increase in fertility as humans moved into agricultural society is responsible for women suffering a faster decline in dental health over the years, an anthropologist has claimed.
John R. Lukacs, professor of anthropology at the University of Oregon, looked at the frequency with which the different genders suffer from dental caries, concluding that women have more cavities than men.
His research was following up on a comprehensive review of the dental health and incidence of cavities among people - both prehistoric and living - from around the world.
Lukacs suggested that dramatic changes in women's hormones as populations became more settled were partly responsible for the degradation of women's oral health.
"The rise of agriculture increased demands on women's reproductive systems, contributing to an increase in fertility that intensified the negative impact of dietary change on women's oral health," he explained.
He also proposed that women may get more cavities because they produce less saliva.
Saliva is important for dental health because it washes away food particles from the mouth, as well as helping remineralize teeth.
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