Weston Price

Weston Price's work has become very popular, but some of his observations have been widely misunderstood.  He was one of about a half dozen dentists who traveled around the world in the first half of the twentieth century to document the negative health effects of modern civilization on dental health and facial form.  They all noted a dramatic rise in cavities, gum disease, tooth crowding, and facial irregularities that occur whenever traditional cultures give up their traditional life styles and adopt a diet of refined foods, consisting largely of flour, sugar, and processed meats and fats.  Medical anthropologists have since shown that our modern life styles have been accompanied by a change from infectious diseases and acute pathological conditions to degenerative diseases and chronic pathological conditions. 

Among these early dental researchers, Weston Price had the best photographs.  He showed very clear examples of how, within one generation, the children of parents who had wide symmetrical faces and straight teeth developed narrow and irregular faces with crooked teeth after they abandoned their traditional diets and adopted a diet of modern processed food.  His work is now widely cited as evidence for a diet that avoids grains (Paleo diet).

Now we know that, although some of the changes that Weston Price observed in the health of the traditional people changing to a modern diet were due to a loss of nutritional content, the changes he observed in the faces and teeth of people who abandoned their traditional ways of life were due to the change in the food's texture - not its ingrediants.  The sugar and flour in the modern diet is the cause of the dramatic rise in cavities and gum disease, but the softness of our diet is the cause of the rise in tooth crowding and facial irregularities.  Very similar tooth crowding and facial irregularities can be produced in animals just by softening their food.  Eating a Paleo diet that consists of softened and highly refined versions of the foods that our ancestors ate, like flours made from nuts rather than grains, may very well help some people improve their health for reasons we still do not understand, but it will do nothing to restore the natural straight teeth and well proportioned faces of our ancestors.