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Did Cavemen Get Cavities?

illustration of caveman and family

Cavemen didn’t have the temptation of candy and soda to harm their teeth, but they also didn’t have modern dental tools and dentists either. So did they get cavities? The answer, in short, is yes. But how did they get them?

Dietary Changes

Studies show that hunter-gatherers barely had any cavities, given their varied and healthy diets. However, cavities became more of a commonality once early humans learned how to farm, incorporating more grains into their diet. The uptick in carbohydrates in the diet coupled with the still primitive form of oral care caused cavemen to develop cavities and tooth decay at more rapid rates.

But in 2014, scientists discovered an ancient community with extreme rates of tooth decay, the cause of which could not have just been because of farming.

Dental Care

Cavemen chewed on sticks to clean their teeth and even used grass stalks to pick in between their teeth. Without the availability of high-quality toothbrushes and toothpaste, however, cavemen’s teeth were more susceptible to cavities and decay, even with a healthy, carbohydrate-free diet.


Studies have shown that the bacteria that cause plaque and tooth decay have existed for thousands of years. While this is certainly the cause of cavities and tooth decay in cavemen’s teeth, a combination of bacteria and either poor diet or poor oral hygiene is the likely culprit behind cavemen getting cavities. Just like modern humans!

When thinking about our distant ancestors’ oral health, we’re more alike than you’d think. Luckily for us, we know more about maintaining oral health than they did and have the proper tools to take care of our teeth. In order to prevent cavities, it is necessary to brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day and see your dentist twice a year for a professional cleaning and examination. Our dentists at Romeoville Dental Center are excited to help you and your family be cavity-free. Contact us to set up an appointment!

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