This pretty grin belongs to a 25-year-old Roman woman living in Britain around 350 AD. Cosmetic bleaching had yet to be invented. Dental hygienists were scarce. Despite this, a study of skulls from a Roman-British burial ground found that people in Roman times had far less gum disease than we have today. The researchers found that five per cent of Roman skulls showed signs of moderate to severe gum disease compared with 15 to 30 per cent in today’s population. Located in the English county of Dorset, the burial ground belonged to a community of non-smokers with low levels of diabetes, two of the factors that greatly increase gum disease today. Her teeth were perfectly healthy teeth, but this lady was buried with a copper coin in her mouth, resulting in a slightly discoloured incisor.
Written by Nick Kennedy
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.