Researchers are reporting that the Neolithic mummy Ötzi had a large number of oral diseases and dentition problems that are still widespread today. As Prof. Frank Rühli, head of the study, explains, Ötzi suffered from heavy dental abrasions, had several carious lesions – some severe – and had mechanical trauma to one of his front teeth which was probably due to an accident.
Although research has been underway on this important mummy for over 20 years now, the teeth had scarcely been examined. Dentist Roger Seiler from the Centre for Evolutionary Medicine at the University of Zurich has now examined Ötzi's teeth based on the latest computer tomography data and found that: 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, explains Seiler. He specializes in examining dental pathologies in earlier eras.
Advanced periodontitis The three-dimensional computer tomography reconstructions give an insight into the oral cavity of the Iceman and show how severely he was suffering from advanced periodontitis. Particularly in the area of the rear molars, Seiler found loss of the periodontal supporting tissue that almost extended to the tip of the root. While Ötzi is scarcely likely to have cleaned his teeth, his abrasive diet contributed significantly to a process of self-cleaning. Nowadays periodontitis is connected to cardiovascular diseases. Interestingly, the Iceman also displays vascular calcification, for which – like in the case of the periodontitis – mainly his genetic make-up was responsible.