It seems like aspirin has been around for a very long time. A VERY, very long time. How long? Since the age of Neanderthals apparently! That’s right, our ancient, ancient ancestors were using aspirin for tooth pain long before it was ever bottled and sold over the counter at your local pharmacy. How do we know? Interesting studies recently conducted have allowed science to determine what was contained in the micro biomes of plaque accumulated on the teeth of our prehistoric ancestors, and it was an interesting find.
According to an article written by Michelle Z. Donahue, we should be happy, from a scientific point of view, that Neanderthals didn’t have tartar control toothpaste! That’s because it was in the build up of plaque that microbiologists were able to harvest a great deal of genetic material, derived principally from the plants and animals Neanderthals ate. They were then able to determine things like what made them sick and to infer, possibly, even how Neanderthals then treated illness.
Specifically looking at samples from a Belgian and a Spanish Neanderthal they found the Spanish specimen to be suffering from an apparent dental abscess. Poplar, a plant based material, is the likely source of salicylic acid that was found in the dental sample. Along with material that is penicillin like in nature, these findings suggest that this particular Neanderthal was suffering a great deal and was using plant based medicines to alleviate the pain. Salicylic acid is of course the active ingredient in aspirin. We wonder if it was a prehistoric Dentist “wannabe” that prescribed the plant for pain!
The study goes on to suggest that these findings aren’t necessarily new and that it has long been suspected our predecessors self medicated with plant-based materials. However, due to a variety of circumstances, this is one of the first studies to be able to verify the relationship using calcified tartar as the source for their research. Often, this material is cleaned away when samples are found, in order for scientists to instead study the wear and tear and groove patterns on teeth. In this instance however, a bit of plaque was a good thing!
If you’re suffering from tooth pain that requires regular doses of aspirin, don’t be a Neanderthal! Schedule a visit with the team here at Brampton Brinkley Dental where we promise not to use ancient chisel tools. Aspirin might be a temporary fix but at Brinkley Dental we provide an exceptional level of care and will help alleviate your pain properly and permanently. We couldn’t resist sharing this article and hope you found it interesting too. Check out the link below if you’d like to read it in its entirety and in the meantime; “don’t forget to be a BFF with your mouth and Brush that SMILE!”