Gentle Dental of West Chester
125 Turner Lane, West Chester, PA 19380

Did prehistoric humans have better teeth than us?

Did-prehistoric-humans-have-better-teeth-than-us1

Today, humans have access to dental floss, toothpaste and toothbrushes, but back in prehistoric times, men and women had little to rely on when it comes to oral hygiene.

According to a recent study published in Nature Genetics, ancient hunter-gatherer clans had better teeth than we do today.  This finding has been linked to changes in human diets over time.

Prehistoric teeth
“Hunter-gatherers had really good teeth,” says Alan Cooper, Ph.D., director of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA. “[But] as soon as you get to farming populations, you see this massive change. Huge amounts of gum disease. And cavities start cropping up.”

According to Cooper and his team, the gradual shift in human diets from meat, nuts and vegetables to carbohydrates and sugar effectively altered the makeup of bacteria in the mouths of modern men and women, National Public Radio reported.

Researchers examined the teeth found in 34 prehistoric skulls and determined that, specifically as ancient man took to tilling the fields and focusing on agriculture in favor of hunting, particular forms of harmful bacteria began to infiltrate human mouths.

Disease-causing pathogens specializing in devouring carbohydrates helped deteriorate human teeth.  The introduction of pre-processed sugar and flour in the late 19th century during the Industrial Revolution hastened the decline of teeth.

“What you’ve really created is an ecosystem which is very low in diversity and full of opportunistic pathogens that have jumped in to utilize the resources which are now free,” added Cooper.

Techniques from ancient dentistry
While Cooper’s study suggests that prehistoric man enjoyed greater oral health due to diet, another report published in PLoS One has revealed more information about possible early dentistry techniques.

Led by Federico Bernardini and Claudio Tuniz, of the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Italy, researchers in Italy and Australia made remarkable discoveries while examining the remains of a 6,500-year-old human jawbone, Medical News Today reported.

Specifically, a tooth found with the jaw near Trieste in Slovenia hints at possible methods used to fill cavities by dentists during earlier times. The tooth, which is a left canine, was found to have traces of beeswax in the crown.

“This finding is perhaps the most ancient evidence of prehistoric dentistry in Europe and the earliest known direct example of therapeutic-palliative dental filling so far,” said Bernardini.

Bernardini and Tuniz used a variety of tools, including synchrotron radiation computed micro-tomography, accelerator mass spectrometry radiocarbon dating, infrared spectroscopy and scanning electron microscopy to prod more deeply into the tooth.

Due to the condition of the tooth, researchers believe the person who received the filling may have been near-death or perhaps already dead by the time the procedure was completed.

“If the filling was done when the person was still alive, the intervention was likely aimed to relieve tooth sensitivity derived from either exposed dentine and/or the pain resulting from chewing on a cracked tooth,” wrote the study’s authors.

When it comes to having a set of sparkling chompers, there’s no need to live in the past!  While prehistoric man might have had an advantage due to a diet rich in hearty meats, legumes and nuts, there are plenty of ways that the men and women of today can improve their oral hygiene.

One of the first and most effective ways to counteract a poor diet, along with regular brushing and flossing, is to visit the dentist regularly. Call us today to schedule an appointment.

Read What Our Patients Say
Patient Reviews
Appointment was on time. Dental work was done efficiently and pleasantly.
Robert G.
I cannot slide to the response that I would like to give. I would give it a 10 because Dr. Valentine does an outstanding job. She explains and shows the details of her job to you before and while she […]
Nancy P.
I appreciate the timely manner to get appointments ad the concern everyone has for the patient.
Ruth M.
The dentist, hygienist, and staff were very helpful and competent.
Nancy J.
Great staff, willing to go above and beyond for patients.
Maggie K.
Dr Valentine is a great dentist. She cares about each of her clients. I feel that I get the proper dental care that I need and am not upsold or lied to in order to bill my insurance.
Charles W.
They did a really nice job and everyone was very friendly!
Jennifer T.
we love the friendly staff and dr Valentine.
Zoe D.
The best dentist i have ever been to. They really care about you there like you are family.
Dylan N.
Nice People
Bruce N.
Once again, I had another pleasant experience! The staff is always nice and puts my dentist jitters at ease.
Kari P.
Professionalism, friendliness of the staff and the overall care from the dentist.
Dawn E.
Friendly staff
Renee R.
Dr, Valentine & the Staff.
Alice W.
Excellent service, quality care.
Patrick M.
I love Dr. Valentine, she’s the best!
Jessica K.
Excellent care by a professional and very capable team!
Joseph P.
Little wait time, fast procedure and friendly staff
Alyssa A.
I love Dr.Valentine and all the staff. They are very kind, and Dr.Valentine always recommends the right treatments without pushing unnecessary treatments.
Tara S.
The office is CLEAN, everyone is so NICE. The work is done in a good time limit. I like everything about the office.
Linda T.
We Accept Most Insurance Plans!
Learn More

We accept most insurance plans and will be happy to help you understand the coverage that you have. We will do our best to see that you receive your maximum insurance benefits for all covered services.

No Insurance? No Worries! See our discounts and offers here

Office Hours
  • Monday 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
  • Tuesday 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
  • Wednesday 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
  • Thursday 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
  • Friday 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Get in touch:
  • Phone: (484) 643-4417
Our Location