What do archaeology and dentistry have in common? Usually not very much but in this case it’s the revelation that the people of Pompeii had really great teeth! In case you aren’t familiar with the Roman city of Pompeii, it was completely buried in ash in the year 79 A.D. when Mount Vesuvius erupted.
When Vesuvius erupted most of the citizens had little time to flee and were buried in the ash along with the town. While gruesome, the ash cemented around the bodies of the dead and preserved them, giving us amazing examples of life from almost 2000 years ago.
What Does This Have To Do With Teeth?
There have been recent CAT scans performed on many of the Pompeian bodies, and many of those scans showed their teeth in close detail. Since their bodies were perfectly entombed in ash their skeletons, including their teeth, have been preserved perfectly.
Amazingly, the scans showed that almost no one in Pompeii had cavities. In fact they all had almost perfect teeth! Scientists speculate that the reason for this is twofold: their Mediterranean diets were low in sugar and there is an abundance of fluoride in the local water.
Diet + Fluoride: What Was Going On In Pompeii?
If you know anything about the Mediterranean diet it isn’t surprising that it resulted in a population full of people with good oral health. The reason for cavities and gum disease, the two biggest oral health problems in the world, are due to bacteria that flourish when you eat more sugary foods.
Sugars, both the sweet stuff found in candy and the not-so-sweet stuff found in breads, refined flours, and starchy foods, are food for your oral bacteria. When you eat sugar so do they, and they turn it into acids that eat away at the enamel of your teeth and contribute to the rise of gum disease. The less sugars you eat the better off your teeth are: it’s a simple dental fact!
The Mediterranean diet consists mainly of fruit, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains that are lower in sugar levels than refined flour products. It also substitutes the bad fats in butter with olive oil and other healthier products, limits red meat, and favors herbs and spices as seasonings over salt. It’s a healthy way to live and it does wonders for your teeth! Many of the foods included in a Mediterranean diet stimulate saliva production, which helps protect your teeth even more.
The high fluoride levels are also a very important part of a healthy Pompeian mouth. Fluoride, a perfectly safe compound found naturally in many water supplies, is high in that region of Italy. The wells and water sources used by the Romans of Pompeii was a natural source of tooth protection that combined with their diets to do wonderful things for their smiles!
Fluoride actually has the unique ability to remineralize your teeth. This involves the regrowth of enamel that is lost to plaque acids, potentially completely eliminating cavities before they ever have a chance to get past the formative stage. With regular fluoride and a low sugar intake you could theoretically eliminate your chances for tooth decay!
What You Can Do To Get A Roman Smile
In the modern world it’s hard to stick to something like the Mediterranean diet, especially here in New Albany, Indiana! That doesn’t mean you can’t do things to prevent tooth decay and keep your teeth healthy. A well cared for smile can easily last a lifetime!
- Reduce your sugar intake by limiting not only sweets, but also white bread, starchy foods like pretzels and chips, and other white flour foods. The starch in those products breaks down into sugar in your mouth and has the potential to cause just as much damage as candy.
- Eat more fiber, which produces saliva and helps wash away food particles, bacteria, and acid.
- Make sure you stay hydrated by drinking water, not sugary drinks! Water is the best thing you can drink and is essential to good health. It increases saliva flow and also cleans your mouth out.
- Use fluoride products like toothpastes to give your smile a protective boost. You don’t need to worry: fluoride is perfectly safe. There haven’t been any studies that link it to health problems!
Questions? Don’t Hesitate To Call!
As always, New Albany Implants is here for you. If you have questions, oral health concerns, or simply want to schedule an appointment don’t hesitate to call us today! You can reach our New Albany office at (888) 469-3982 or you can request a visit by filling out our online form.
We look forward to seeing you soon!