Prehistoric humans didn't need toothpaste, or floss, or even sonic toothbrushes. They lived on a grain-free diet made up of meat, vegetables and nuts, and they had really nice teeth. It wasn’t until early man started farming that gum disease-associated bacteria began to be a problem. A 2013 genetic study of ancient dental plaque by a group at the University of Adelaide charted the course of oral bacteria, starting with strong-jawed Neolithic hunter-gatherers, and documented when higher carb diets brought plaque to our mouths.
Nice smile, caveman:
- The researchers took DNA from calcified plaque from 34 prehistoric northern European human skeletons, and traced the introduction of certain types of oral bacteria.
- The researchers found that bacteria associated with dental cavities, such as S. mutans, became dominant around the time of the Industrial Revolution.
- The study also found that the frequency of bacteria associated with periodontal diseases, such as gingivitis, has not changed much since farming began.