Thursday, January 21, 2010

Toothless in Alaska

Apparently, Eskimo's have bad teeth.

Well, maybe they don't have bad teeth, because I mean, how could evolution grant a meat eating, blubber chewing, mukluk making breed with weak teeth?

When my aana was younger and had her own set of teeth, I remember watching her and her Uuma's (friends) chew on ugruk skin for mukluk bottoms. That's how I learned to sew Ugruk, suck on the skin until its soft and pliable, then you can get your needle in and out easily. This wears down Eskimo teeth like no other.

People sometimes tease saying things about missing teeth, and gaps in smiles of Eskimo's, but its not entirely their fault.

I simply believe it was a combination of many things that made Eskimo's have weak teeth. The first inclination of a dentist is to pull a tooth that has a cavity, possibly because they don't want to fill it, or bother with the caps. I don't know really. But I've come across that more than once. When I needed a root canal on a tooth of mine, the dentist simply said, "come back in a week and we'll pull it out."

WHAT?! Rather than a root canal, on only one root? Pull it out?! Uh, no. So, I just went to another dentist, until I found one who said, "Oh, a root canal, let me schedule it for you."

Combining that pull-at-the-sign-of-a-cavity thoughts with the introduction of sugar, soda pop, and chips to the mix (which I believe a lot of kids eat/drink on a daily basis) is really the reason people end up with no teeth! (By the say, the dentists NOW have a much better reputation for keeping teeth in our mouths and working on them rather than pulling them out!)

But, what got me on this rant about being toothless is the fact that my daughter FINALLY LOST a tooth. Actually, she lost one on January 8th in the afternoon, and then another one that evening at a friends home.

Coincidentally, she's been waiting FOREVER to lose her teeth, because of all the hooplah and monetary gain from her friends and their tooth fairy stories. She was highly excited. Especially to lose TWO teeth in one day.

Now for the great part: When Koy was a baby, he got his first tooth at about age 6 weeks, and then came an eruption of teeth so severe that he had a mouth full of chompers when he was 8 months old. Imagine my surprise when Kaisa didn't have ONE tooth until she was almost 8 months old!

So, when she lost her tooth on January 8th, 2010, I laughed as I found out after reading a baby book that was half filled out that on January 8th, 2004, she got her first tooth. On the 9th in the morning, she had another tooth!

Her teeth were exactly six years old from start to finish!

She wants to drill little holes in them and wear them around her neck. Cavemanesque I guess.

For now...she'll remain toothless in Alaska until her permanent teeth arrive! And then, I promise, no candy or pop for her!!! haha.


Lisa said...

I'm new to your blog and love your writing style. I want to move to Alaska now!! :)

Your daughter is a doll! Both of my boys got their teeth late, too.


Cate said...

What a cute post.

But, dude, I totally had an article that would clear up this topic for you, but it burned up in 2006 in the school inferno, gon it. I wish I could remember the details, but basically it was a research study from about 1930 that a traveling dentist did while traveling through rural Alaska. There were still people then who ate exclusively native food, and according to this article, those people had ZERO cavities. However, even people who had only recently (like in the past 5 years) begun eating even half/half native/western food (flour, sugar, tea, crackers, etc)had a bunch of cavities. It was that quick!

However, I have often been confused by claims from folks 'round here that their grandmas or whoever still had their baby teeth when they died -- like they didn't ever even need their adult teeth. That just seemed wierd to me since it seems like something that just automatically happens.

And I think that tobacco juice has a LOT to do with the current rate of toothlessness.... :)

Rocksee said...

YAY! I am glad she did. She has such a cute grin with her missin tooth!

Congrats to her!!

Finnskimo said...

OH yeah, I forgot about Tabaccy! It DOES...but I don't think as much as POP and CANDY...which apparently are in their own food group.

I highly doubt those claims of the baby teeth. Baby teeth are SO would they chew uugruk for mukluk bottoms then!!?? Yeah...I'll stick to pliers and brushing. cause I sure like Pop!

Sabrina said...

Positively adorable! My son was born in April 2004 and he hasn't lost a tooth yet either. He didn't get his first tooth until he was 11 months old, so, I don't expect him to lose any anytime soon. His dentist mentioned to me that he will probably have them until he's 7 or 8 (or less if I don't hurry up and get him a mouth guard for hockey!). I'm not sure I buy 7 or 8, but we'll see. He's also excited to lose a tooth, so far he doesn't even have any loose ones (maybe because I've been flossing him since he was 2?) yet. Love the pics, reminds me of my grandmother, she doesn't have many teeth either. For her, I think it was the chocolate and lack of oral care in the south.

Anonymous said...

Adult teeth that are worn down from activities such as chewing mukluk bottoms for thousands of hours over a lifetime will look like baby teeth.Such was the case for many of my grandma's teeth.


Finnskimo said...

OK Ian...I have NEVER thought of that! Its totally true too! Cause my aana looked like she had little teeth too , but I knew they were worn down from chewing mukluks she said. That explains A LOT! (There you go Cate, an explanation!)

But my husband looks like he has baby teeth and I know he hasn't been chewing mukluks. Just grinding and tabaccy! :)

Arvay said...

What a cutie. What's the going rate for teef nowadays? I got a quarter. My teachers told me they had only gotten a dime!

flying fish said...

Aaaages ago my orthodontist in Juneau told me that he designed a tool to help some of the northern women who'd worn their teeth down chewing mukluk bottoms. I can't remember exactly what he said (I was a teenager!) but it involved a church key can opener to gnaw on the leather.

Down here in Southeast AK, they hold spruce roots in their teeth to split them with their fingernails to make finer threads for weaving and sewing. My (broke them out when I was 10) fake front teeth couldn't handle it!

Marc said...

Cate said... "I totally had an article that would clear up this topic for you, but it burned up in 2006 in the school inferno, gon it. I wish I could remember the details"

It's a book called "Nutrition and Physical Degeneration". The book even discusses how Eskimos with worn out teeth didn't have their pulp chambers exposed, by eating their native diet. Everyone should read it!

Anonymous said...

Vilhjalmur Stefansson, an explorer and antropologist talks of Eskimos' teeth (among other things) in this article (on chapter III):

He tells that not a single cavity is found on the teeth of Eskimos who hasn't been introduced to European foods. Probably not the article Cate mentioned though.

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