A History of Gum Disease


Gum Disease is a condition that is not new to many of us; whether it’s gingivitis, or the later stages of advanced periodontitis, most people have experienced words of caution from their dentist and plans for either prevention or halting progression. Periodontal disease is related to bacteria and plaque/tartar buildup in the mouth, and none of these are recent developments. So if our ancestors did suffer from gum disease – how was it resolved prior to modern medicine? There are some geographical variations to be considered when you note that populations spread around the globe had no means (or motivation) to spread their medical discoveries with one another. We will use the examples of ancient Egypt and Japan to explore just a few ways periodontal disease was found and treated before modern medical discoveries.

Ancient People

In ancient Egypt, as an example, modern researchers have a lot of material they can analyze, due to their burial practices that aimed to preserve their remains. Chronic periodontal disease, as it happens, was similarly pervasive in ancient times as we find it today; however, the causes were both similar and different. While gum disease is ultimately caused by the same bacteria and buildup, in ancient Egypt the culprit for was likely nutritional deficiencies caused by periods of famine and drought, which are less prevalent today, though certainly not absent (Forshaw). Evidence suggests their medical knowledge to treat the ensuing diseases was limited, and primarily limited to topical preparations or mouthwash applied to the diseased tissues for short-term relief, rather than long-term treatment. It also appears treatment was targeted toward reducing tooth mobility, rather than addressing the root of the issue.

Turning our attention to another part of the world, there can be significant evidence found from remains in Japan, from a period cited as around 14,500 BC to 12,000 BC. In these ancient peoples there is a significant presence of bone resorption found in older individuals, indicating the presence of periodontal disease. However in this time period (nearly 16,000 years ago!) ‘older individuals’ could refer to some no older than the age of 15. More interestingly yet, 15 year olds could show the same signs of periodontal advancement that we would not see for 20-30 more years in modern populations; it is suggested that this is due to aging faster as a consequence of the physical stresses of their time that we are not accustomed to today (Fujita). Many times, these diseases went untreated due to the infeasibility of extractions or other corrective measures.

Information gained…

There are few conclusions to be drawn from this information, but it certainly is interesting to learn the ways we compare and differ to our predecessors! It is, however, safe to say that a great number of variables play into the prevalence rates of periodontal disease, as well as how that disease is treated. We can also safely acknowledge that we are fortunate to live in a world where we not only understand the causes and stages of gum disease, as well as how to provide efficient treatment to minimize damage and pain. Certainly a few things to think about the next time we are considering skipping the floss (:

Forshaw, R.J. “Dental Health and Disease in Ancient Egypt.” Nature.com. Nature Publishing Group, 25 Apr. 2009. Web.
Hisashi Fujita (2012). Periodontal Diseases in Anthropology, Periodontal Diseases – A Clinician’s Guide, Dr. Jane Manakil (Ed.), ISBN: 978-953-307-818-2, InTech. Web.


Periodontics and Implants – Diplomat of the American Board of Periodontology

10425 Fair Oaks Boulevard, Suite 102, Fair Oaks, CA 95628

Phone: (916) 965-7444 – Fax: (916) 965-9372


Your Missing Teeth Hurt More Than Your Confidence


A significant portion of modern dentistry is framed around cosmetically improving your smile. Having a smile you can be proud of is invaluable, and a smile that hurts your confidence can affect your life immeasurably. Stained and yellow teeth damage your ego, but missing teeth can damage the structure of your jaw, the alignment of your other teeth, and may come with a myriad of long-term and serious consequences.

It only takes one missing tooth to catalyze bone loss in the jaw, which will continue to recede at an exponential rate for as long as the problem goes unattended. The effects of which can be seen by deteriorating facial structure, subsequent damage to the gum tissue, and if untreated for a long period of time: the lower part of the face may begin to collapse, as they are lacking the support of teeth and the now-missing infrastructure of the jaw.

Missing teeth are not uncommon, in fact, 60 to 70 percent of the adult population is missing at least one tooth; the back molars are typically the first to go. It can be easy to rationalize forgoing cosmetic purchases, particularly those related to dentistry – but repairing your missing teeth is not the expense to skip, and the longer it is left untreated, the more expensive and difficult to fix the matter becomes.

Do yourself, your smile, and your long-term health a favor by making your periodontal consultation to set yourself up for a lifetime of happy, and more importantly healthy teeth.


Periodontics and Implants – Diplomat of the American Board of Periodontology

10425 Fair Oaks Boulevard, Suite 102, Fair Oaks, CA 95628

Phone: (916) 965-7444 – Fax: (916) 965-9372

Plaque VS. Tartar


Plaque and tartar are not one in the same.  Tartar is more severe than plaque.  Tartar can become a serious issue if not quickly taken care of.  Here are the differences to help sort out any type of confusion between the two.

Plaque is an accumulation of bacteria and particles that build up naturally on the tooth surfaces.

– Sticky
– Colorless
– Full of bacteria

When sugar comes in contact with plaque, acids are released.  These acids then attack the tooth enamel causing it to break down which in turn can lead to…. CAVITIES!  When the tooth enamel is broken down, not only do cavities form, this can then contribute to early stages of gum disease, such as Gingivitis.

The best way to prevent any of the above issues from occurring is to take good care of your teeth, gums and mouth!  Brushing and flossing are key components to getting rid of plaque and clearing off the sugary acids from the teeth.

If plaque build-up remains on your teeth, it begins to harden forming tartar

– Tough
– Hard
– Crusty
– Traps stains
– Causes discoloration

The simple act of daily brushing and flossing will not remove tartar.  After plaque has formed in to tartar, the next step would be getting to the dentist.  Your dentist is the only one that will be able to remove the tartar from your teeth.

To avoid plaque and tartar altogether, proper oral health care maintenance needs to be administered on a daily basis.  Plaque is inevitable and will form on tooth surfaces.   Removing the plaque and not allowing it to sit on your teeth prevents it from evolving into tartar as well as the enamel-attacking acids, cavities, and gum disease.

So remember, brush your teeth regularly, twice a day, floss those gums daily and take care of your mouth.


Periodontics and Implants – Diplomat of the American Board of Periodontology

10425 Fair Oaks Boulevard, Suite 102, Fair Oaks, CA 95628

Phone: (916) 965-7444 – Fax: (916) 965-9372