Have you ever wondered what is inside your dental plaque? Probably not. But Christina Warinner, an archeological geneticist, and currently an Assistant Professor of anthropology at Harvard University, analyses the DNA found in fossilized dental plaque of ancient humans, in order to study the origins and evolution of human health and diseases.
It turns out that in ancient times, before toothbrushing and tart removal by dental hygienists, up to 600 milligrams of plaque might have been built up on the teeth over a lifetime. And since dental plaque contains oral bacteria, food particles and cellular debris, and mineralizes during life to form tartar, it can provide unique and invaluable data about chronical and complex diseases and how they evolved over time.
View more about it, in this fascinating 5 minutes Ted talk.