Roman Britons Gums Healthier Than Ours

13th March 2015

Gum disease is a bigger problem now than it was during Roman times, despite the fact that we have all sorts of modern contraptions like dental floss, electric brushes and fluoride toothpaste.

This is according to scientists from King’s College London’s Dental Institute, who found after examining 303 skulls from a Dorset-based Romano-British burial site that just five per cent of the remains had signs of gum disease ranging from moderate to severe. This news could be just the inspiration you need to start visiting a dentist in Manchester city centre more often!

In contrast, modern-day Britain has a chronic gum disease rate of 15 to 30 per cent, a difference that has been put down to the fact that our Roman ancestors had very few cases of diabetes and they did not smoke, both of which can do a lot to inflame the gums.

“By underlining the probable role of smoking, especially in determining the susceptibility to progressive periodontitis in modern populations, there is a real sign that the disease can be avoided,” co-author of the study They Molleson, from the Natural History Museum in London, remarked.

It wasn’t all good news for Roman teeth, however, with numerous skulls showing signs of other problems including tooth decay, abscesses and infections, as well as extensive tooth wear as a result of their diets, which were rich in abrasive cereals and grains.

Practising good oral hygiene can help prevent the onset of gum disease, so brush for two to three minutes twice a day, use a fluoride toothpaste as this can help protect against decay, floss regularly, don’t smoke and make regular visits to your dentist at least once a year.