Roman gums 'healthier than ours'

Last updated at 06:31
Teeth
A collection of teeth analysed by the research group

People living in Roman Britain had healthier gums than modern-day humans, research from archaeological dentistry shows.

A team at King's College London and the Natural History Museum found only 5% of adults had gum disease in the Roman, and certainly pre-toothbrush, era.

That figure has risen to nearly 33% of people today.

But ancient Britain was certainly not a golden age of gleaming gnashers.

Dental inspectionThinkstock
Overall teeth are in better shape today, but gum disease is far more common

The smiles of our ancestors were filled with infections and tooth decay, the study showed.

Grave investigation

The research group looked at 303 skulls from a burial ground in Poundbury, in Dorset.

The skeletons, mostly of people who died in their 40s, were between 1600 and 1800 years old.