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Earth Science

Iceman Had Bad Teeth 130

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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  • Re:Paleo diet (Score:4, Informative)

    by scourfish ( 573542 ) <scourfish&yahoo,com> on Thursday April 11, 2013 @04:34PM (#43426423)
    5,300 years ago would have been the neolithic period, so technically, a neolithic diet gave this guy terrible teeth.
  • Re:Paleo diet (Score:4, Informative)

    by t4ng* ( 1092951 ) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @04:37PM (#43426475)

    The summary contains almost the entire FA. But there is this...

    In the late Stone Age, humans were increasingly incorporating coarsely ground grain into their diets. 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, it was no longer the "Paleo diet" and a shift away from it is what brought about bad oral health.

  • by J'raxis ( 248192 ) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @04:44PM (#43426567) Homepage

    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 mortality was high, but if people made it through childhood, they died in their 60s-80s just like they do nowadays. Go look up a few random historical figures from ancient times if you don't believe me. Socrates died in his 70s. Plato made it to 80. Aristotle, 62. Roman Emperor Augustus, 76. Tiberius, 78.

    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.

  • by Sique ( 173459 ) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @05:02PM (#43426897) Homepage
    Dying in the snow and being frozen for the next 5300 years definitely helps here.
  • Re:Nationality ID'd (Score:5, Informative)

    by nametaken ( 610866 ) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @05:05PM (#43426927)

    Last I read the British have better dental hygiene than us Americans do. They're just not as fixated on the bleaching and such.

    And before some horse's ass drags out the new "i'm confused by your 'americans' reference", I meant the US.

  • Re:Paleo diet (Score:4, Informative)

    by pluther ( 647209 ) <`ten.asu' `ta' `rehtulp'> on Thursday April 11, 2013 @05:59PM (#43427591) Homepage
    Not entirely correct.

    One of the problems with claiming what "the" paleo diet consisted of is that it varied hugely from time to time and place to place.

    Unsurprisingly, the world before "the" invention of agriculture was not a giant homogeneous culture with the same diet everywhere.

    For the most part, diets in the winter vs summer were remarkably different, even for the same people. There are many exceptions, though, where the diet didn't vary much year round.

    Even the diets from places as close together as, say, western Oregon and Utah from 13,000 years ago were hugely different. The Pleistocene Oregon diet consisted of large amounts of seafood, rabbits, tubers, and, yes, lots of wild grains. In Utah there was significantly more larger game, more meat, including more fat, different berries, more grains and less tubers.

    And, yes, even without lots of grains, throughout the archaeological record, people frequently had bad teeth. Worn flat by sand and bits of dirt in their food the was rule, not the exception, and cavities and abscesses were more common than not throughout the Americas. I imagine it would be similar to Europe and Africa.

  • Re:Paleo diet (Score:5, Informative)

    by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @06:17PM (#43427791)

    Or maybe, just maybe living in a predental hygiene era might have had something to do with it.

    Both. He lived after the invention of flour and before the invention of toothbrush. That was a very unfortunate period for everyone's teeth.

...there can be no public or private virtue unless the foundation of action is the practice of truth. - George Jacob Holyoake