Ancient Dental Problems

neanderthal-jaws-(2)Fossil evidence has shown that our Neanderthal ancestors suffered from many of the same dental problems that afflict us today including bad breath (halitosis) and caries.

Skeletal fossil remains dated about 15,000 years old found in a town in Morocco have given us insight into the prehistoric hunter-gatherer diets and their resulting oral health problems.  A study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that a staggering 51% of the teeth found had cavities and abscesses.  Furthermore, evidence has shown us a glimpse of their distinct diet of acorns, pine nuts, and fermentable fruits.  Just like the formation of any other cavity, researchers predict that bacteria broke down carbohydrate rich foods left on teeth.  Ultimately, these bacteria would release harmful acids that cause enamel degradation characteristic of caries.

Another Neanderthal fossil specimen found in France dated an astounding 175,000 years ago was also found to have severe abscesses that would have prevented her from eating properly.  The significance of this particular finding was that it showed that Neanderthals must have helped one another eat and gain nutrients.  One researcher hypothesizes that a peer must have chewed up food for this specimen and fed her in order for her to survive well into her 40s.

Interestingly, both accounts show that many of the dental problems people face today were also the same problems our ancient ancestors faced.

If you have any more questions, feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and the caring team at Wellesley Dental Group if you have any thoughts or concerns; they will be happy to answer your questionsContact us today at 781-237-9071 or to set up an appointment and consultation. 


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