Tooth decay bacteria found in Bronze Age molars

illustrate, Researchers say the dental remains are a 'very rare find'

Scientists have discovered “unprecedented numbers” of bacteria that can cause cavities and gum disease in human teeth from 4,000 years ago.

The dental remains, thought to belong to a Bronze Age man, were unearthed from a limestone cave in County Limerick, Republic of Ireland.

Researchers at Trinity College Dublin The conditions in Kira Cave – cool, dry and alkaline – may have contributed to the “extraordinary preservation” of the bacteria.

The “very rare” discovery provides insight into the evolution of human diet over centuries, particularly in relation to sugar consumption.

illustrate, Researchers believe conditions in a limestone cave in County Limerick may have helped preserve remains

The tooth samples contained DNA from Streptococcus mutans, a bacteria that causes tooth decay.

The research team also identified other types of microorganisms associated with gum disease, including Tannerella forsythia.

Based on their analysis, the scientists were able to reconstruct the genome of the ancient bacterium.

They said it was “extremely rare” to find Streptococcus mutans in ancient tooth samples because the bacteria produce acids that cause cavities but also degrade DNA.

Lara Cassidy, assistant professor at Trinity College Dublin, told PA News: “We were very surprised to find that this 4,000-year-old tooth contained such a large amount of the mutated protein.

“This is a very rare finding and suggests this person was at high risk of tooth decay before death.”

However, the researchers believe that “high abundance” of Streptococcus mutans DNA at the root of a tooth may also indicate an imbalance or disruption in the oral microbial community.

Archaeologists observed an increase in cavities in skeletal remains when humans began adopting grain agriculture, but cavities became more common in the early modern period, starting around 1500 AD, the team said.

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