178809061 © Savenkomasha | Dreamstime.com
Good Read

Good read: What scientists found in ancient plaque

May 10, 2023
Learn how calculus preserved in Stone Age teeth led scientists to reconstruct ancient bacterial genomes, work they hope could lead to new disease treatments.
Elizabeth S. Leaver, Digital content manager

Enjoy this “good read,” an excerpt from an article or other online source related to dentistry curated and shared with DentistryIQ readers.

Thanks in part to the poor oral hygiene of ancient people, the teeth of dozens of ancient skeletons in northern Spain have enabled scientists to reconstruct the genetic material of their oral bacteria.

Through a process likened in Science to “throwing together pieces of many puzzles and trying to solve them with the pieces mixed up and some pieces missing entirely,” scientists reconstructed bacterial genomes from human and Neanderthal dental calculus, discovering previously unknown molecules called paleofurans that they say offer valuable insights and future potential.

The reconstructed material isn’t found in modern mouths and seems to have vanished from ancient humans about 10,000 years ago.

The reconstruction represents a “great achievement” that scientists hope could eventually help devise new disease treatments.

Learn more by accessing Lost microbial genes found in dental plaque of ancient humans, by Andrew Curry