"Mesolithic hunter-gatherers living on a meat-dominated, grain-free diet[...]
had much healthier mouths that we have today, with almost no cavities
and gum disease-associated bacteria, a genetic study of ancient dental
plaque has revealed."
"What we found was that the early [hunter-gatherer] groups really had
a lot lower frequencies of any of the disease-associated bacteria
compared to what you see today [and] that the number of species per
person's mouth, or the diversity, was much higher in the past," says
"If they've got more [bacterial] diversity that means that those
people's mouths were more resilient to stresses, and probably less
likely to develop disease."
"Gum disease and heart health"However, while the researchers noted that bacteria associated with dental cavities such as S. mutans
became dominant around the time of the Industrial Revolution, the
frequency of bacteria associated with periodontal diseases such as
gingivitis has not changed much since farming began.
"This may have implications for the notion that gum disease and
associated bacteria are a significant contributor to the recent increase
in conditions such as cardiovascular disease and atherosclerotic
plaques, says co-author Professor Alan Cooper, director of the
Australian Centre for Ancient DNA.
"It has been suggested that the presence of this permanent
inflammation state along the gums was promoting an immune inflammatory
response, which in turn leads to cardiovascular disease," says Cooper.