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Is the Black Death of the 14th Century Related to Modern Periodontal Diseases?


A recent study led by researchers from Pennsylvania State University and Australia’s University of Adelaide suggests a connection between the second plague pandemic of the mid-14th century, also known as the “black death,” and changes in the human oral microbiome. The black death, which claimed 30% to 60% of the European population, may have influenced oral microbiome composition, potentially contributing to chronic diseases in modern humans. Published in Nature Microbiology, the research points to dietary and hygiene changes triggered by the pandemic as potential factors. To investigate the oral microbiome’s evolution, researchers examined calcified dental plaque from 235 individuals across 27 archaeological sites in England and Scotland from 2,200 BC to 1853 AD. They identified 954 microbial species, categorizing them into two communities dominated by Streptococcus and Methanobrevibacter genera. The study indicates that survivors of the black death, with higher incomes and changed diets, could have influenced the Streptococcus-dominated group associated with modern diets and periodontal diseases. Click here to read more.

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