It's hard to imagine cavemen taking a great deal of pride in their teeth, but new research suggests our fussiness with oral hygiene has some pretty deep roots. Scientists studying one of Europe's oldest hominin fragments have discovered wooden fibers in the teeth of a 1.2 million year-old caveman. Their precise location suggests they are the remnants of habitual tooth-picking.
"Our evidence for the consumption of at least two different starchy plants, in addition to the direct evidence for consumption of meat and of plant-based raw materials suggests that this very early European hominin population had a detailed understanding of its surroundings and a broad diet," says study leader Karen Hardy.
These remnants of a long ago mealtime also appear to have defied the caveman's best efforts to clean his teeth. Non-edible wooden fibers were discovered adjacent to a groove at the bottom of the teeth, a location which suggests oral hygiene activities, according to the researchers. This predates the oldest known example of this type of dental cleaning: Similar wooden fibers discovered in a 49,000-year-old Neanderthal earlier this year.
Although there has been obvious advancements in dental care, this is proof that even without the modern-day knowledge of fluoride, toothbrushes and floss, there is an innate behavior to preserve those pearly whites. Contact us today to learn how we can help with improving your dental practices.