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Dental News

The Iceman Ouch-ith

The Centre for Evolutionary medicine at the University of Zurich has completed a research study started two years ago on Ötzi the Iceman. Ötzi was discovered in 1991 in the Swiss Alps, and according to a new dental examination of the 5,300 year old mummy, he suffered from a large number of oral pathologies. In other words, he had very bad teeth.

“He had everything: dental trauma, paradontal disease, abrasion and caries,” said study co-author Frank Rühli, head of the Swiss Mummy Project at the University of Zurich.

Researchers were able to utilize three-dimensional computer tomography to get an idea of the evolution of Ötzi’s dental pathologies. These reconstructions showed that all 28 teeth had a severe degree of abrasion, while two teeth suffered from large decayed lesions.

Thee molars of the upper jaw featured loss of alveolar bone as a sign of advanced periodontitis (inflammation of the ligaments and bones that support the teeth), which would have caused painful and recurrent abscesses.

Although the Iceman did not lose a tooth until the his death at age 40, Rühli believes that within 10 years he would have most certainly have lost some of his teeth.

According to the researchers, the Iceman’s dental issues were based on environmental as well as genetic bases. And although he could have used a dentist badly, the Iceman’s teeth were somehow working.

“He probably had a functional, yet sometimes painful, dentition,” the researchers concluded.

Anesthesia May Impact Wisdom Teeth of Children

New research out of Tufts University shows that children injected with anesthesia for dental treatments between the ages of 2 and 6 may not develop lower wisdom teeth.

Wisdom teeth often create issues because they don’t develop until long after birth. The wisdom teeth start growing in the back four corners of the mouth when a person is between 2 and 6 and don’t emerge until the late teens or even later. The teeth are often impacted, requiring surgical removal, which can be painful, and requires recovery time that often means missing school or work.

This research indicates that it may be possible to prohibit third molar growth.

–Dr. Shannon Norman-Kotre, Ann Arbor Dentist


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