Monday, 30 July 2012

Plaque and pollen and proteins, oh my!

Do you often wonder what interesting things might be lurking in your mouth when you don't brush your teeth? 

Well, wonder no more! This very interesting interview in the Guardian with Christina Warinner at the Centre for Evolutionary Medicine at the University of Zurich discusses exactly that. Warinner talks about deposits of dental plaque (what we call dental calculus) on teeth and how 'pollen, starch grains, animal muscle, bacteria, even a person's DNA' can be found trapped within it.

If you get a chance, you can watch Warinner's TED talk on YouTube (linked below), which is similarly fascinating and explains how teasing out the preserved protein and DNA from dental calculus can be used to 'investigate the relationship between disease, diet and the environment' in the past - and how that knowledge might benefit us in the future.

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