Archaeologists and historians have unusual ways finding out about the past and the people who have lived before us. In my explorations of history, however, and occasional musings about what might be said about me five hundred years after my death, I’d never considered they would be taking a very close look at my mouth.

The topic came to mind with the recent article: Unbrushed Teeth Reveal Ancient Diets.

From a health perspective, I don’t think my mouth says all that much about me: I’ve had my wisdom teeth surgically removed, I’ve had a few cavities drilled, and I have a mild form of TMD.
It makes you wonder though about your regular brushing and flossing that instead of just the health of the jaw and teeth, they’ll be examining the bumps and bruises.

I have a chipped tooth. Although you probably couldn’t pinpoint the cause, it was made when the very solid head of a two-year old child slammed into the bottom of my chin, clashing my teeth together and creating a chip. I wonder what explanation they would come up with for it…

And then there’s the anecdote of a former boss. As a theater mouse in college, I worked primarily in our costume shop organizing our back stock (of course) in addition to helping to create and build new pieces. When I’m sewing I like to use pins, which usually ended up in my mouth while I was sitting in front of the industrial machines. [Note: That is truly sewing–driving a heavy industrial machine with two feet on the foot pedal–I could handle one of those well before I got my drivers licence. 🙂 ] My boss would come by and regularly chide me about putting the pins in my mouth–didn’t I remember her story?

Said story was of a woman that they excavated in Europe somewhere. While there was little that archaeologists could tell about her, they did know that she was a seamstress–her teeth had been ridged from holding pins in her teeth while she was working. I can’t find a specific story of that excavation but a letter to the editor in Current Anthropology (seems to be freely available) suggests that it isn’t as uncommon as I expected.

So now I have to remember to take the pins out of my mouth and that when I die and before I am buried: I want them to brush my teeth.

*shudder* off to find toothpaste