How Old is Dental Decay?
The issue of dental decay and cavities is as old as man. Over a million years ago, hominids such as Australopithecus suffered from cavities. The largest increases in the prevalence of cavities have been associated with dietary changes. Archaeological evidence shows that tooth decay is an ancient disease dating far into prehistory.
According to ABC Science references to ancient Egyptian dental practices have been uncovered and references to gum disease and dental procedures such as tooth extraction and fixation of the teeth and jaws with wires. If you aren’t a fan of going to the dentist be glad you live in modern times as our ancient ancestors had no anesthetics to dull the pain.
Skulls dating from a million years ago through the neolithic period show signs of caries, excepting those from the Paleolithic and Mesolithic ages. The increase of caries during the neolithic period may be attributed to the increased consumption of plant foods containing carbohydrates. The beginning of rice cultivation in South Asia is also believed to have caused an increase in caries. Nature World News printed a story that tooth decay in ancient humans is presumed to be from high-starch diet of early humans which plagues people today.
While the problems of dental decay are not a recent issue and we haven’t learned how to eliminate the causes, we still need to take the old advice of care of our teeth with proper brushing and flossing.