Ötzi Needed a Dentist

Oetzi the Ice ManSince his discovery near Hauslabjoch in the Ötzal Alps in September, 1991 by two hikers, researchers from the Centre for Evolutionary Medicine at the University of Zurich have been studying everything possible about the so-called “ice man.” The ice mummy had lived in approximately 3300 BC which makes him the oldest wet mummy in the world.

The latest scientific findings have determined that he was in dire need of a dentist, due to some major trauma and periodontitis. The ice man, or “Ötzi” as he’s been nicknamed, suffered from heavy dental abrasions and had several carious, or infected, lesions probably caused by some sort of accident.

Roger Seiler, a dentist from the Centre for Evolutionary Medicine, used computer tomography to analyze Ötzi’s teeth and gums. “The loss of the periodontium has always been a very common disease, as the discovery of Stone Age skulls and the examination of Egyptian mummies has shown. Ötzi allows us an especially good insight into such an early stage of this disease,” Seiler said.

Although all sorts of extensive research has been done on Ötzi, it’s really only now that his teeth have been thoroughly examined. His teeth can tell us a lot, for instance they revealed a great deal of information about his diet. Ötzi’s tooth decay was likely caused by a combination of heavily starched foods such as bread and porridge, and a general lack of cleaning. In fact, scientists think that the abrasive quality of his diet may have been the only way his teeth were cleaned at all.

It can show modern man one thing, that maintaining healthy teeth is a necessity, both then and now. In fact, like modern man, Ötzi showed signs of cardiovascular calcification and early heart disease cause primarily by periodontitis. This holds just as true today as it did then, so remember to maintain a good cleaning regime and make regular appointments with an Austin Cosmetic Dentist like Dr. Matthews.

Dan Matthews DDS
Dan Matthews Dan Matthews DDS The Park at Eanes Creek,
4407 Bee Cave Road
Building 2, Suite 221
Austin, Texas, 78746
(512) 452-2273
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