What We Learned From an Iceman's Terrible Teeth
Ötzi suffered from cavities, gum disease, and a cracked molar
By Mark Russell, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 12, 2013 2:04 PM CDT
Updated Apr 12, 2013 2:16 PM CDT
A 5,300-year-old mummy, nicknamed Otzi, had terrible teeth when he died, indicating to researchers that man then was increasingly eating grains.   (NationalGeographic)

(Newser) – Cavities are far from a modern woe, reveals a new study of a 5,300-year-old "ice mummy." "Ötzi" didn't just have the bad luck of dying on a glacier, he also suffered from terrible teeth, reports Science. Though his remains were discovered on the Austro-Italian border in 1991, his teeth had never been assessed. Researchers circled back to a CAT scan taken in 2005 to review his "oral cavity" and "study evolutionary aspects of oral disease," per their abstract in the European Journal of Oral Sciences.

What they determined, as translated from dental-speak ("the poor periodontal condition of the Iceman's dentition, eg, loss of alveolar bone...") by Science: a discolored front tooth as the result of some sort of accident, a broken molar, cavities, and gum disease. A diet involving gruel may have been responsible for the latter two conditions. In fact, the researchers believe that the rise of starches in the diets of the time may be linked to a corresponding increase in cavities.

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Showing 3 of 26 comments
Apr 13, 2013 3:03 PM CDT
They had to fight tooth and nail to survive back then.
Apr 12, 2013 10:57 PM CDT
He forgot to sign up for the troglodyte's universal dental plan?
Apr 12, 2013 9:33 PM CDT
A 5300 year old mummy found near Italy and the bible thumpers aren't here to talk trash? Maybe it was Adam.