A walk down the toothpaste aisle at your local drugstore clearly shows that having whiter, healthier teeth is a 21st-century obsession. But it turns out that it’s always been a challenge: Otzi — a 5,300-year-old mummy retrieved in 1991 from a glacier in the Alps — had cavities and severe gum disease, researchers reported recently. And archeologists have discovered that more than 1.5 million years ago, our very early ancestors (Homo erectus) pried bits of dinner from their teeth with the world’s first toothpicks.
Ironically, even though these days you can choose from thousands of products to polish, cleanse and protect your teeth, most of you are not all that much better than Otzi at avoiding decay and periodontal disease. Here’s a look at how often you brush off taking care of your teeth, and how you can improve your dental care.