Ever Wonder Why Indigenous People Had Straight Teeth?


The other day, we spent the afternoon at the Museum of Natural History in New York City. We went to look at the dinosaurs, which was fascinating. I was even more interested in the skeletons of early humans and the exhibits of indigenous peoples. I only had my iPhone camera with me, but I thought I'd share some of the things that captured my attention.

First of all, the skulls. I always love looking at caveman skulls. I mean, just look at their teeth.


That perfect “U” shape that Dr. Weston Price described in his writings. Unlike the narrowed “V” shaped palate most modern people today have. The wider palate allowed for plenty of room for all the teeth, including the wisdom teeth, with no crowding.


I also enjoyed looking at the exhibits of indigenous peoples. It's amazing how straight and beautiful their teeth were.

Look at these photos of Indians from the Amazon:



Their teeth are naturally straight. They didn't have dentists or orthodontists. They didn't wear braces. Doesn't this make you wonder why we modern people have such crooked teeth?

I looked at many other exhibits of indigenous peoples — from the native Americans to the Polynesians. The exhibits had all kinds of household items, from spoons to cups to pipes and combs. Not once did I see a toothbrush. Not once did I see any kind of dental equipment like headgear or braces or palate adjusters.

Doesn't this make people question? Don't archeologists looking at these “primitive” people wonder why their teeth are so straight? I guess maybe archeologists aren't dentists, so they're not thinking about people's teeth.

It made Dr. Weston Price question. Dr. Price was a dentist in the early 20th century in Cleveland, Ohio. As he saw more and more kids coming in with crooked teeth and cavities, he wondered why it was happening. Which is what set him on his quest to study indigenous peoples. Dr. Price came to the conclusion that crooked teeth and cavities are caused by nutritional deficiencies, particularly deficiencies of the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E & K.

The groups he studied ate very different diets, but they all ate large quantities of these fat soluble vitamins. Ten times the amount eaten by people in the 1920s and '30s. And people in the '20s and '30s ate a lot more butter, lard, eggs, and whole milk than we do today.

If you haven't yet, check out Dr. Price's book: Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. You can read the whole thing online.

Just looking at the photos will blow your mind. It's amazing to see portraits of all these different cultures, all with perfectly beautiful straight teeth. And then to compare those photos to the ones of people who abandoned their traditional diets for “industrial” food.

The good news is, according to a wealth of data out there (including Dr. Price's book), crooked teeth are not irreversible. Nor are they caused by bottle feeding or pacifiers.

Sally Fallon Morell, Founder and President of the Weston A. Price Foundation, reported in the organization's current quarterly journal (Fall, 2009) that an in informal survey of Weston A. Price Foundation members with adopted babies who were raised on bottles of homemade formula made from raw milk (see the recipe here), 6 out of 7 of those kids ended up with naturally straight teeth.

Isn't that incredible? Especially when you consider this:

Some 4.5 million children and adults are undergoing orthodontic treatment in the United States today, a number that has quadrupled since the 1960's, according to the American Association of Orthodontists. Source

And this:

The AAO estimates that 75 percent of Americans suffer from malocclusion (literally “bad bite”) and could benefit from orthodontic treatment. Source

75% of Americans need orthodontic treatment, and yet 6 out of 7 WAPF moms raised adopted babies on raw milk formula with naturally straight teeth.

What does that tell you? Tells me something's going on here. Something very exciting.

I wish more people out there knew about this. Think of the money people would save on braces! Which is why I can't stop thinking about it and am compelled to keep writing about it.

If you're new to this information, and you find it interesting, check out Dr. Price's book and visit the Weston A. Price Foundation website to learn more.

If you're not new to this information, share this post with someone who is. You never know how powerfully you will impact someone else's life by reaching out. I know how much healthier my daughter will be, and how much healthier her children will be, and you can't put a price on that.

I'm eternally grateful to my Uncle Roy for sending me the link to the Weston A. Price Foundation when my daughter was 4 months old. And I'm equally grateful to Dr. Weston Price, Sally Fallon Morell, and everyone who works to get this information out there.

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Ann Marie Michaels

I have 25 years of experience in digital and online media & marketing. I started my career in Silicon Valley and Los Angeles, working at some of the world’s top ad agencies. In 2007, after my first child was born, I started this little food blog which I grew to over 250K monthly unique website visitors and over 350K social media followers. For nearly 15 years, I've helped my audience of mostly moms and women 25-65 cook for their families and live a healthier lifestyle.

 The year after I started the blog, I founded a blog network in the health & wellness space called Village Green Network. I started the company on my coffee table and bootstrapped the business to over $1.3 million in annual revenue within 5 years. During that time, I helped a number of our bloggers become six figure earners. After being censored on almost every social media platform for telling the After being censored on almost every social media platform from Facebook and Instagram to Pinterest and Twitter, and being deplatformed on Google, I am now deployed as a digital soldier, writing almost exclusively about politics on my blog Cheeseslave.com. Because who can think about food when we are fighting the second revolutionary war and third world war? Don't worry, there will be more recipes one day. After the war is over.

46 thoughts on “Ever Wonder Why Indigenous People Had Straight Teeth?

    1. Is it possible that straight, even teeth have more to do with heredity than diet, that primitive humans did not survive long enough to pass on their genes if they did not have perfect or near perfect teeth, and for that matter perfect or near perfect everything else, as do all mammals still under natural selection today?

      1. In that case everyone would have straight teeth today, which is the opposite of reality. What does your question mean then??

  1. I had my wisdom teeth out in 06. The dentist told me that my mouth was too small for my wisdoms. He then began to tell me that diet was the reason so many ppl have issues with their teeth. Our mouths & teeth have become “lazy” due to easy foods, less nutrients, etc. We no longer live on a “caveman” diet & he sees many problems with teeth because of this.

  2. Very good article/blog. Dr. Price’s pictures in his book are the story of my life. I have worn glasses since the age of 8 and probably needed them before then. y eye sight now is 20/12.75 with a severe astigmatism (sp?). I had to have all kinds of teeth removed so that I would have room in my mouth for teeth. I also had to have my wisdom teeth removed at age 18 because there was no room for them and it was extremely painful – they were also in the bone. It’s all about food – real food.

  3. Perhaps this post should be used as part of petition’s toward making/keeping raw milk legal! I’ve read most of the texts you refer to, but I did enjoy the way you linked your Museum visit with your knowledge. It’s given me some great post ideas of my own – thanks!

  4. They also didn’t do toxic fluoride. My mother did “if a little is good, more is better” with fluoride drops & i have the ugliest teeth in the world. Yellow & beginning to fall apart. Yeah ! Technology! NOT.

  5. Love this post!!

    I’m a health writer and write a thyroid-specific nutrition column and I’ve come across this question before. A really great book that briefly discusses it is “Going Against The Grain”. The author is an advocate of a low/no-grain diet. She says that around the time of the first Agricultural Revolution, 10,000 years ago, when people started cultivating and eating grains, health problems resulted. Among these were oral and dental problems and tooth decay. It’s a really interesting read and I would definitely recommend the book — it explains in great detail the historical, scientific, and health associations with grains.

    Thanks for this post!

  6. fabulous post! i know several people i’ll be forwarding this to who have infants and could really benefit from this knowledge (as well as others who should be on the bandwagon to keep raw milk legal!). thank you!

  7. So happy to see a new post!

    Liz (or Ann Marie or anyone else), when you sprout grains, do they become more like a vegetable? Do sprounted grains still cause the same problems as unsprouted grains? And what about legumes?

    For the first time in several months I made a spaghetti dinner. Jarred spaghetti sauce, regular ol’ pasta and frozen garlic bread. I used to think this was a healthy meal but now considered it junk food. I know we can’t be perfect all the time (or even part of the time sometimes), but meals I used to make I consider crap especially compared to what I cook now (or ferment, sprout or soak.)

  8. Great post. I’m new to all of this information. I only discovered the Weston A. Price Foundation at the beginning of this year and the information I’ve found on it has changed my life. I didn’t know that I could read his book online. Thanks for the link. I can’t wait to start reading it.

  9. Great post, Ann Marie! Just from looking at the title, I knew it was going to be about Weston Price! 🙂 After letting Nutrition and Physical Degeneration sit on my bookshelf for a year, I’m so glad that I finally read it. Everyone who eats should read it!

  10. Tina –

    No, soaked/sprouted grains, seeds, nuts & legumes do not have the same problems as unsoaked.

    Many traditional cultures did eat grains, seeds, nuts & legumes and they experienced vibrant health. But they always soaked/sprouted/fermented them.

    I do not think it is necessary to give up all grains but I do think if you are going to eat them, you will want to soak or ferment them first.

  11. Price was right about the link between processed foods and declining oral pathology. There has been a small amount of research since then, but the citation below which came from around Prices time, is also close to the truth.

    “…cooking renders food pasty, so that it sticks to the teeth, and undergoes acid fermentation. Furthermore, the cooking of food greatly diminishes the need for use of the teeth; and thus tends to diminish the circulation of blood to the jaws and teeth, and to produce under -development of the maxillary and contiguous bones—thus leading to contracted dental arches, and to malocclusion and impaction of the teeth, with complications of great seriousness.”
    – Forbes, E. B., The Ohio Journal of Science. Vol. 33, No.5 (September, 1933), 389-406

    In societies where consumption of tough foods has remained popular, one does not see the degeneration depicted by Price.

  12. I was just commenting to my husband yesterday how we have these tooth and skull specimens in museums that have been unearthed after hundreds and thousands of years and they are in impeccable shape. However it is absolutely normal for babies, toddlers and young children to have dental decay at such young ages. If bacteria was the cause of such decay then the specimens in the ground would not withstand such a bacterial assault over time.

    So much for the bacteria theory.

    Today I find these pictures on your blog. Wonderful!

  13. Great post! My daughters are 13, 11, 9, & 7 years old. By following Weston Price Diet the last seven years, my three oldest daughters have straight teeth now. They were not coming in that way at first. My 2nd girl had teeth that were completely twisted sideways. They are now straight. I am excited to see what wisdom teeth bring. It just goes to show that by switching your diet during your growing years does have a lot of impact for better or worse. My youngest daughter has some crazy teeth right now. I am praying that she will follow her older sisters and as she grows, she will also have straight teeth.

  14. I’m on board with the Weston A. Price stuff, but I always wonder about life-span. Did the people with great teeth live very long? Does he address that in his book? Are our longer lives now because of other breakthroughs in medicine despite our processed foods? Just something I wonder about when I think about our predecessors. 8)

  15. Sally Fallon Morell addreses this here:

    Price extolled the health of those groups who were healthy, and described the high rates of infant mortality, endemic diseases and malnutrition in the groups that were not healthy. Much of the value of his research comes from the fact that he was able to observe healthy and unhealthy groups of the same racial stock side by side, and thereby demonstrate the correlation between diet and disease. Although we will never be able to ascertain the life expectancy of the primitive peoples he studied, Price noted great longevity among certain groups, such as the Eskimos and the South Sea Islanders.


    As far as early man goes, here’s an excerpt from a book on the subject:


    The author says that Paleolithic hunter-gatherers lived around 30 years and that principal causes of death were infectious disease, trauma and perils of childbirth. As you can imagine, cavemen did not have cushy lives like we do — with cars with safety belts and comfortable heated homes and television. They were exposed to the elements 24/7 and had to fight for every meal.

    I think you are right that our longer lives now are due to breakthroughs like modern plumbing, improved sanitation and modern medicine.


    A woman does not have to die in childbirth today — they can do a C-section or other intervention. Much of infant mortality in prior centuries was caused by an inability to intervene (as with surgery), but more commonly it was probably due to infection. People didn’t wash their hands back then because they had no understanding of microbiology.

    The biggest causes of death in the 20th century were things like tuberculosis, small pox and the like. Improved sanitation and hygeine was responsible for the decline of most infectious diseases.

    The bubonic plague in the middle ages was caused by rats and other animals infested with fleas that carried the bacteria. “The bacteria form aggregates in the gut of infected fleas and this results in the flea regurgitating ingested blood, which is now infected, into the bite site of a rodent or human host.”

    The rats largely died off from the plague and the fleas started biting human hosts. Interestingly, what caused the swarm of rats that carried the bacteria was sewage and filthy, overcrowded living conditions. During those times there was no such thing as indoor plumbing and people just dumped chamber pots full of urine and sewage into the streets.

    Can you imagine? In fact, I read that the platform shoes were commonly worn in Europe in the 16th century in order to prevent all the muddy sewage from getting on people’s clothing when they walked in the streets.

  16. Here’s another article about this topic:


    And this article is interesting too:

    European cities were buried in sewage. Town residents splashed the contents of garbage pails and washtubs out into the street on the heads of carefree passers-by. Stagnated slops made stinking pools; and a great number of town pigs crowned the whole picture. People emptied chamber pots right out of their windows making streets look like cesspools. Bathrooms were the rarest luxury. Fleas, lice and bugs swarmed in rich and poor houses of London and Paris.

    Unsanitary conditions, diseases and starvation personify medieval Europe as it was. Even the noble class could not afford to eat their fill. Noble families were happy if at best two or three of ten children survived. Delivery was quite an undertaking for women: a third part of them died in labor. Street illumination also was poor – oil lamps, splinters or wax candles at best. Hunger, smallpox, leprosy and syphilis disfigured people’s faces.

    There were not any cleaning agents or the notion of personal hygiene in Europe up to the middle of the 19th century. One Italian nobleman said in his memoirs that in the 16th century it was impossible to walk along the streets that resembled a fetid stream of turbid water. He had to hold a scented handkerchief or a small bouquet to his nose not to vomit. But not only faeces poisoned the air. Butchers slaughtered and disembowel cattle right in the streets. They would scatter guts around and pour blood out onto the pavement.

    All hygienic arrangements included only hands and mouth rinsing, but not the whole face. “By no means you should wash your face, – wrote medics in the 16th century, – as it can cause catarrh or weaken the eyesight.” As for women, they had a bath only two or three times a year.


    Disgusting, eh? I can’t believe they survived very long at all, considering all of that!

  17. Hi Ann Marie,

    I’m starting to do more veggie ferments and I came across a blog that mentioned how important is was to get your prebiotics too. The probiotics and prebiotics work together.

    I wanted to know if you gave your family a prebiotic supplement?


  18. This post is wonderful! I am just about 3/4 the way through Nutrition & Physical Degeneration, and I was more under the impression that it was prenatal nutrition that was important for good jaw formation, but you give me hope. I just started the Nourishing Traditions way of eating with my daughter when she started solids around one year, but my nutrition when breastfeeding/pg wasn’t the best with her. I’m glad to know that food will still help her teeth/jaw formation!

    This information just blows my mind, as someone who was raised to trust medical professionals. After reading things like this, that aren’t ‘new’ knowledge, I don’t know how anyone cannot be skeptical of most of the medical profession!

  19. Oooo, I’m def. keeping my fingers crossed that we can avoid braces for both (all?) of our kids via good nutrition! I am, believe it or not, just getting all my wisdom teeth in as an adult! For the last 2 years or so, I’ve been slowly teething at age 27-29. How strange is that! You would think my kiddos should be the ones teething. The dentist keeps saying I might have to have them out, but he’s not pushing it yet. I’m always pregnant or nursing and hate the thought of that surgery anyway, so I’m hoping to just take good care of them.

    What cool skull pics, btw.


  20. So I hate to be the one that asks the dumb question, but what about teeth brushing? Is that a modern thing too? From watching Survivor Man, I know that a specific tree can be used to freshen up one’s mouth, but what did/do the indigenous people use? J/c

  21. Pingback: Links and Shout Outs — Yes, in the middle of the week! | Musings of a Housewife
  22. I was glad to see amy’s testimony that her children’s teeth improved as a result of W.A.P. diet. I wish I could convince my 19-yr-old son to eat better and drink raw milk, or at least take cod liver oil. The dentist is recommending he get his wisdom teeth pulled and 2 molars. I hope I’m not crazy to think diet could help even though he’s practically an adult. So was glad to see Katie’s testimony too. I also have crowding and a poor bite. But have not had help from eating the traditional way. I’m 48 though. Maybe good diet combined with the right dental treatment?

  23. Sorry, but the reason they have straight teeth is because they lose their teeth and the remaining teeth migrate to a straight position. Indigenous people have the same jaws as people living a modern lifestyle.

  24. I have just recently found your blog and absolutely love the posts. Thank you, thank you. I am still .NET programming but can’t wait to try these things in Ruby and it is a great help to see such clear examples.

  25. It really is amazing. And I believed for my whole life (until a year or so ago) that it was all genetic!

  26. Ok, you are an idiot and should not be allowed to post drivel like this article. I AM a dentist (orthodontist to be exact) and can tell you that crooked teeth are no more a result of a vitamin deficiency than your lack of intelligence. Dr. Price simply noticed that people have crooked teeth and have had them for thousands of years. Brilliant! Call the Nobel Society! Crooked teeth are a result of multiple factors such as genetics, the pattern of primary tooth loss, habits, growth and development of the craniofacial complex and dumb luck. Additionally, as our skeletal structure evolves we no longer need all the teeth we once did and they often have little room to erupt. The indigenous people have an “unrefined” diet and have much greater tooth wear interproximally which provides more room for the teeth as they become worn. Next time do a little research, or call an orthodontist, before you claim crooked teeth are a result of a vitamin deficiency. Ridiculous. Oh, and you might want to change the water in your bong too.
    – Roger

    1. You’re right – you’re an orthodontist…not a nutritionist. It’s my experience that people don’t get this defensive unless they feel threatened (I suppose I would too, if I’d dropped a couple hundred grand and a decade of my life becoming something with “ist” on the end of it, and was confronted with the possibility that the next generation wouldn’t require my services if their progenitors knew how to feed themselves properly). Thank you for the great article, as I’m sure it’s inspired many people to seek out answers beyond those that are typically spoon-fed to them. And pick up a copy of the book, mate – try some of it out, and it might help that touchy disposition!

  27. Hi, 3rd picture down, the one of the teeth. The bottom right corner of the picture indicates that these teeth are from an Australopithecus afarensis, which is an extinct hominid, not a human. This is why the teeth are spaced as such. As for the picture above, that may not be human either.

  28. Decaying in teeth because of poor food choices, yes… But nothing else. The structure of the jaw, facial bones, etc. has nothing to do with diet. It has to do with one’s DNA. Hundreds and thousands of years ago, people had children with those in their geographic area, hence with those who had a similar DNA background, therefore similar bone structure and facial shape. That is much less true today of course, due to travel, transplantation, mingling of cultures, etc., creating our “melting pot” of DNA. And that is why, not diet or food choices. Merely “melting” of different shapes of bone and jaw structure.

  29. I use and went away from our native tooth care, after a compound fractured jaw i was instructed to go back to chewing sticks. We natives chew sticks, I like apple pear, pine, spruce,willow, and cherry. each one has medicinal properties, splinters differently, and works differently. They keep your teeth clean, jaw strong, and less smoking eating, we are supposed to as animals chew sticks, some people think they are better than animals.

  30. It’s interesting, but I don’t think it’s that simple for everyone, as orthodontics covers alot more than just teeth. And what about the people with terrible diets that have naturally straight teeth, & people that eat very healthy with crooked teeth. Or how about people that have crooked teeth in exactly the same way as their relatives. Or people who’s teeth are straight, but have weak looking chins. I think it’s a very interesting concept, one looking in to, but I don’t think we can escape genetics.

    1. Yeah, really cool concept! I personally think a lot more is based on our diets than our doctors and dentists will have us believe. I’m not saying all health practitioners milk our problems–there are many noble doctors out there–but there is definitely something going on when restaurants and manufacturers are pressured to cut their salt/fat content, but not sugar. Sweets actually raise our blood pressure higher than salt and can damage our brains. Saturated fat might help offset this damage and, at the very least, does *not* cause heart disease. I honestly find it hard to believe an entire population can just have good genes, but to each their own! : )

    2. How and what you eat early in life will affect how your teeth will develop later on. I learned that from a dentist. Most people in developed countries eat garbage when they are young. Highly processed grains, sugars, et al. I don’t need to list it all. I mean, have you seen what’s on a kids menu at restaurants? Shameful.

      Processed food is the devil, but I don’t think most people would ever be able to return to their ancient roots. Just the transition to “paleo” type diets along can be sickening enough. Most of us don’t really need to, either. One would have to sacrifice a lot of modern conveniences to make any of that happen.

      1. I have just read a fascinating book called, Breath, The New Science of a Lost Art, where then author (James Nestor) talks of his experiences and research into how a life-time of over-breathing contributes to weakened mouths, jaws and airway and other chronic illnesses result from this. And how he himself, used breathing techniques to ‘breath slower’ and made great improvements. He also mentions many other doctors and scientists have made improvement by training people in these techniques. He points out how primitive man, (hunter-gatherer) always had strong jaws, perfectly straight teeth and larger airways and obviously a diet of raw fruit and vegetables, together with raw fish and meat. As you say, it is difficult to adopt such a diet these days, but having practised some slower -breathing exercises as mentioned in the books, I am definitely finding an improvement in my health and vitality. It’s early days yet, but I must say, looking promising.

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