Ötzi had bad teeth

Researchers have for the first time examined the dentition of ice mummy more closely

tzi - the mummy in the Pr historic Museum of Quinson, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France. © 120 / CC-by-sa 3.0
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Every dentist would have clasped his hands over his head: for in addition to tooth decay and periodontitis, Ötzi also suffered from tooth enamel injuries and severe abrasion of the teeth. These new findings on the iced-man's teeth give clues to his dietary habits, according to the researchers in the journal "European Journal of Oral Sciences".

Many legends entwine around the enigmatic man from the ice. However, researchers have been able to gain a great deal of knowledge about the Ötzi in recent years through the use of state-of-the-art technologies, in particular new imaging techniques. Only the teeth had hardly been considered in the 20 years of research so far. Now, Roger Seiler - Dentist at the Center for Evolutionary Medicine of the University of Zurich - has examined the teeth of the iceman using computed tomography.

Look in the mouth

The computer tomographic three-dimensional reconstructions give an insight into the oral cavity of the ice man. The result: Astonishingly, Ötzi showed numerous, even today widespread diseases of the teeth and the periodontium. As explained by Frank Rühli, head of the study, moreover, Ötzi suffered from severe tooth abrasion, tooth decay and had an accidentally dead anterior tooth.

"The disappearance of the periodontium has always been a very common disease, as skull finds from the Stone Age or the study of Egyptian mummies show. Ötzi gives us a particularly good insight into such an early form of this disease, "explains Seiler, who specializes in the study of dental disease of the past.

View of the right side of the rows of teeth (3D reconstruction). © University of Zurich

And periodontitis

And yet another, until today familiar disease, the researchers could prove: The mummy from the ice had advanced periodontitis. So Seiler found, especially in the area of ​​the posterior molars, a loss of supporting tissue that almost reached the apex of the root. Today, paradontitis is associated with diseases of the cardiovascular system. Previous studies by other scientists had already shown that Ötzi also suffered from genetic arteriosclerosis. display

The caries, however, was due to the increasingly strong food such as bread and cereal porridge, which was increasingly consumed by the beginning of agriculture in the Neolithic, so the researchers. In addition, the food was heavily abrasive due to contamination and the abrasion of the millstones, which would explain the eroded teeth of the ice man. And the accident-related tooth damage, according to the researchers provide insight into the life of tzi. They were, like his other injuries, witnesses of the harsh life at that time. (European Journal of Oral Sciences, 2013; doi: 10.1111 / eos.12037)

(University of Zurich, 10.04.2013 - KBE)