Drs. Finkelman & Machlus, DDS
1755 Old York Road, Abington, PA 19001

Did prehistoric humans have better teeth than us?

Did-prehistoric-humans-have-better-teeth-than-us2

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
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I always feel confident that my teeth are in the best hands when Dr. Machlus is treating me. Thank you.
Rhea C.
I had a question of an item Dr Finkleman had done to my mouth. I returned and he explained again and things are perfect.
Audrey R.
As a person that has great anxiety when it comes to dentists, Dr. Machlus was exceptional. The entire staff was warm and welcoming. They were […]
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Over the years I've had many Dentists ranging from one really bad one to the absolute best, Dr. Finkelman. Thank you!
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The staff and Doctors are wonderful. I went in thinking I had a cavity. My appointment was at 4:30 pm and the office closed at 5:00pm. It turned out […]
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Everyone was excellent!
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Fabulous job. I was in and out in a half hour, and the novacaine wore off by the time I got home. The filling looks fantastic, and the tooth issues […]
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So painless that I fell asleep during a root canal.
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Dr. Machlus and Donna are very patient and caring!!
Denise G.
Dr. Finkelman is wonderful; staff is pleasant and efficient. The music in the exam room was too loud for my taste.
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All the dentists I have been to these two know what to do...I used to ask my old dentist what he's doing today with dr machlus I just let him do his […]
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I had an excellent experience. I recovered quickly from my root canal.
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Richard H.
My experience with the doctor I was very pleased! Thank you for making my visited a pleasantly one.
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Could not ask for a more a courteous, efficient and professional staff and satisfying outcome.
Richard C.
My anxiety was high while waiting to have my small procedure done, however I put right at ease when I sat in the chair. Although timely, I was made […]
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Dr. Machlus was wonderful with my daughter. He explained everything that he was going to do and made sure she was comfortable the entire visit.
Elizabeth D.
Very nice staff, was a little nervous and embarrassed about my teeth but they made me feel at ease.
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Have been with Dr. Machlus for many, many years. He is always the professional and you leave his office knowing that you were in good hands. He only […]
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Very caring and professional staff
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Dr. Machlus and Donna are wonderful!! Very kind and gentle!!
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No waiting. Dr. Finkelman explained each process as it took place.
Carol M.
How can you lose in a caring and professional environment where the staff are just as pleased with their work as you are?
Patrick M.
Great service, excellent work, cheerful staff. What more could you want?
Patrick M.
I had a pleasant experience! Everyone was so friendly, and the service was so quick.
Khadijah B.
Have been coming to this office for many, many years. I am always treated with respect and professionally.
Pat D.
Dr. Machlus almost makes going to the dentist pleasant, as much possible by being pleasant, that is. He is a caring man, and not only a doctor but a […]
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We love Dr. Machlus!!!
Anonymous
Very kind and great service.
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Dr. Stephen Finkelman and his staff are wonderful. I know that I am in good hands whenever I go. The office is clean, the staff is friendly and they […]
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Professional, courtious service
Peter D.
For a procedure I dread, both dentist and assitant were sensitive and explained what they were doing.
Cathy R.
Always a great experience. Hardly any pain and very caring. Informs you of every step as he does it.
Anonymous
Taken right on time. Treated in a professional manner. Almost getting to be fun----
Pat D.
Dr. Machlus and his staff are very thorough, gentle, caring health professionals.
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Excellent customer service and expert dental work.
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Dr. Machlus and his team are very caring and meticulous in their work.
Irving T.
personable, professional, proficient
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Dr. Machlus is the most caring and skilled Dentist. His staff are just as warm and professional.
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