Neanderthal Gums Relieved by Toothpicks
Fossil teeth point to Neanderthals relying on toothpicks to ease gum disease.
Our long-lost Homo neanderthalensis cousins used the toothpicks to clean their teeth and even relieve the pain of gum disease, suggests a team at Spain's Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social (IPHES).
The practice, one suspects, likely beat using a spear.
The study, published in the October 16 issue of PLOS One, provides the oldest evidence of toothpick use for the purpose of pain relief.
(Related: "Neanderthals… They're Just Like Us?")
Found at the Cova Foradà site in Valencia, Spain, the fossil teeth were embedded in the upper jaw of an ancient skull, which researchers estimate at 50,000 to 150,000 years old.
The teeth were free of cavities but showed heavy dental wear. This was likely due to a highly