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Earth Science

Iceman Had Bad Teeth 130

Posted by timothy
from the recommend-doctor-brinkley dept.
sciencehabit writes "Europe's best-known mummy wasn't just a medical mess; he also had terrible teeth, according to a new study. Ötzi, a Stone Age man who died atop a glacier about 5300 years ago, suffered from severe gum disease and cavities. When Ötzi was discovered atop a glacier on the Austro-Italian border, his frozen corpse was intensively studied. But no one took a close look at his teeth until now. Using 3D computer tomography (a CAT scan), the hunter's mouth could be examined for clues as to the life he led. A fall or other accident killed one of his front teeth, still discolored millennia later. And he may have had a small stone, gone unnoticed in his whole-grain bread or gruel, to thank for a broken molar. That gruel may be the culprit behind Ötzi's cavities and gum disease, too. The uptick in starches, the researchers suggest, could explain the increasing frequency of cavities in teeth from the time—a problem that's been with us ever since."
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Iceman Had Bad Teeth

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  • by ZaMoose (24734) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @03:56PM (#43426003)

    I mean, I'm not the biggest Val Kilmer fan around, but c'mon, that's just downright insulting!

  • From the No-Shit-Sherlock dept.

  • by stevegee58 (1179505) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @04:00PM (#43426051) Journal
    An American Ice Man would have had braces as a cave child.
  • Hah!

  • In other news, reports are coming in that CO2 levels around the developed world rose momentarily; as if huge numbers of people exhaled in unision.
  • ...back then, you only lived to 30, if you were good.

    Dentists? Nope
    Doctors? Nope
    Nationwide medical coverage? Nope
    Anesthetics? Nope
    Rather Complicated Operations? Yes, surprisingly - but at full consciousness!

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by CastrTroy (595695)
      Well, things can always be a little too simple, but that doesn't mean we should make them as complicated/not-simple/technological as possible. It's perfectly possible to have good health without being inundated with technology for our entire lives.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Well, things can always be a little too simple, but that doesn't mean we should make them as complicated/not-simple/technological as possible. It's perfectly possible to have good health without being inundated with technology for our entire lives.

        No actually it isn't. You just don't realise that: spoken language, currency, written language, specialized education, calendars, etc. are technology. Not to mention: stethoscopes, toothbrushes, anatomy, cell theory, germ theory, etc.

        Good luck having a modern lifespan without a nontrivial subset of technology.

        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          Not sure how accurate it is, but the information here says Amish life span [amish.net] is the same as the average American.
          • So are you saying the Amish don't have spoken language, currency, written language, specialized education, calendars, stethoscopes, toothbrushes, anatomy, cell theory, germ theory, etc? Because you'd be wrong
        • by u38cg (607297)
          Actually, once you strip out the effects of child mortality and the violence, healthy lifespan through history is not much different. Nowadays we get an extra ten-twenty years through geriatric medicine, but if you were a healthy 30yo back then you had more or less the same chance of ending up a 70yo as you do now.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by J'raxis (248192)

      Forget the article, you didn't even read the whole summary, I see. "The uptick in starches, the researchers suggest, could explain the increasing frequency of cavities in teeth from the time---a problem that's been with us ever since." In other words, tooth decay isn't caused by lack of dentists. It's caused by eating food that isn't the natural diet for human beings. Dentistry is only needed to fix a problem we've caused ourselves.

      People didn't only live until 30. That statistic is an average: Infant morta

      • by rainer_d (115765)

        But I suppose these are some of the myths you need to believe in, and propagate, to support "national health coverage." So by all means carry on.

        I'm not even from the US.
        (But where I live, we have "national health coverage", thank you.)

        But it's true - corn-starches aren't very good for the overall health.
        Nevertheless, teeth need a lot of attention - and sometimes a dentist.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Instead of listing the richest folks who had access to the best of everything, how about you tell me how long the median farmer lived.

        I suppose these are myths you need to support "Fuck you, I got mine." So by all means, carry on.

        • Farming is actually a pretty healthy lifestyle. Lots of outdoor physical work, not cramped in with thousands of other people in cities, good rest periods after the harvest, plenty of food unless the crops fail, oh yes you could do worse than being a farmer.

        • by EvilSS (557649)
          He is correct: when you remove infant mortality from the numbers the average age at death jumps dramatically. Those "the average roman only lived to 19" stats are total crap. If you think about it, we would have died out in a few generations if that were true, since parents would have died while most children were still too young to care for themselves. As for the median farmer, unless they worked themselves to death or had zero sense of hygiene, they may not have fared much worse, on average. They proba
    • by hairyfeet (841228)
      Actually IIRC, and its been years since I read this, but opium poppies were used for pain killers for ages before they were refined into what we know as morphine, kinda like how the Romans would proscribe a trip to the spa for those having mental problems and it turns out later that the baths were loaded with lithium.
      • by rainer_d (115765)
        Granted, because there was much less "dope" around, people reacted better to less potent anesthetics - but I don't think you can compare it to what you get today in a hospital or with OTC paracetamol-derivates...
        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          I don't know. I have a tolerance of a bull rhino but if you have never taken squat? Don't forget the Indians ate a tree bark that turned out to be aspirin, and you know that there wasn't shit compared to like a BC powder but it worked well enough for them to keep it for centuries. I mean its practically impossible to compare what we feel to what they felt because frankly we are exposed to chemicals in the womb, you just know your mom was taking aspirin and other drugs while she was pregnant, their bodies we

  • Any comments regarding what you should eat to avoid or even remineralize cavities? Just today I was researching this subject, found even a dedicated book [curetoothdecay.com] related to the subject, which might be garbage or not. But anyway.
    • by dehole (1577363)

      To avoid cavities, eat a meat diet. Eskimo's had 0 cavities on a pure meat diet, without brushing their teeth (no scurvy either).

      • by cusco (717999)
        But don't eat polar bears. They can have trichina.
      • That's because they ate the fat and the whole animal, often in a poorly cooked fashion, not just the raw muscle. A diet of butter fried steak isn't going to save you from scurvy.

        • But eating a liver will. Polar bear and seal liver is high in Vitamins C, D and A.

          yummm. Liver.

          • by dehole (1577363)

            Bear liver can be poisonous, just because it has too high of a concentration of vitamins.

        • by dehole (1577363)

          Yes you are right, Eskimo's really enjoyed the fat of the animal, in combination with the muscle. You would die if you tried to just live off of the muscle. Fully cooking meat destroys some of the vitamins in it, so its better to eat it not fully cooked (pink on the inside). Eskimo's ate what we would call a high fat diet, consisting of about 70-80% fat.

          A diet of seal fat and slightly boiled seal muscle will save you from scurvy :)

    • by turp182 (1020263)

      Brush with a fluoride toothpaste at least once a day.

      Then brush 1 or 2 additional times with a toothpaste containing Novamin. It is a remineralizing agent (your teeth will feel very smooth). I use Restore toothpaste, it's available on Amazon. There is a fluoride toothpaste that has Novamin, but I can't recall what it is.

      Then floss a couple of times a day.

      Keep some kit at work, be that strange person who brushes in the bathroom after lunch (the usual response is, "I should do that", but they never do)...

  • TFA mentions that he ate gruel and grains and that was probably to blame for his poor dental health. They're also blaming mechanical damage from tool holding and chewing sand with his gruel. I find it pretty unlikely that he would eat sandy gruel, they were prehistoric, not stupid. If they were stupid, we wouldn't have gotten the chance to be as stupid as we are as a race.

    • by RabidReindeer (2625839) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @04:39PM (#43426499)

      TFA mentions that he ate gruel and grains and that was probably to blame for his poor dental health. They're also blaming mechanical damage from tool holding and chewing sand with his gruel. I find it pretty unlikely that he would eat sandy gruel, they were prehistoric, not stupid. If they were stupid, we wouldn't have gotten the chance to be as stupid as we are as a race.

      Sandy gruel just means "stone ground".

      • TFA mentions that he ate gruel and grains and that was probably to blame for his poor dental health. They're also blaming mechanical damage from tool holding and chewing sand with his gruel. I find it pretty unlikely that he would eat sandy gruel, they were prehistoric, not stupid. If they were stupid, we wouldn't have gotten the chance to be as stupid as we are as a race.

        Sandy gruel just means "stone ground".

        Why do people think this is funny? People have been using millstones and similar devices to grind grain since long before Ötzi. "Stone ground" isn't just some sort of trendy elitist affectation, it was basically all you had until the development of milling equipment that didn't shed parts of itself into the grain.

        But thanks for the votes, anyway!

    • by joh (27088)

      TFA mentions that he ate gruel and grains and that was probably to blame for his poor dental health. They're also blaming mechanical damage from tool holding and chewing sand with his gruel. I find it pretty unlikely that he would eat sandy gruel, they were prehistoric, not stupid. If they were stupid, we wouldn't have gotten the chance to be as stupid as we are as a race.

      I think if you have nothing but stone to work with getting sand in your gruel is pretty much unavoidable.

  • Bet he still regrets missing all those dental appointments.

    • by meglon (1001833)
      I bet he regrets his last trip up to the hunting lodge on that big old block of ice on the mountain more.
  • Thanks for the lazy news.

    It's not even news, really. It's just observation. Like walking outside during a thunderstorm, then printing: "New Discovery: Rain Soaks Your Clothes." Or "Ninjas Love Pork Rinds."

  • They blew stuff to smithereens!
  • When I lived in the US, I repeatedly heard the same comment : "You Europeans, you are total perverts and therefore hot - but you all have bad teeth". Didn't know it already started then. Is it a coincidence I live in Austria ?
  • You can date the introduction of agriculture in a population by the age of the skulls with cavities. No agriculture = no cavities. This is not news; fermentable carbohydrates rot your teeth.

  • of the cavities, but having periodontal problems is one of the hallmark signs of scurvy- a vitamin C deficiency. It is plausible that he didn't have a source of vitamin C in his diet.

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