WTF Fun Fact 13658 – Viking Dentistry

You probably haven’t pondered Viking dentistry. However, a recent study at the University of Gothenburg revealed that Viking dental practices were surprisingly advanced.

The study examined 3,293 teeth from 171 individuals in Varnhem, Sweden, dating back to the Viking Age. This region is renowned for well-preserved skeletal remains, offering a unique glimpse into ancient dental health.

Caries and Tooth Loss in Viking Dentistry

The findings, published in PLOS ONE, show a widespread occurrence of dental issues among the Vikings. About 49% of the population had one or more caries lesions, with 13% of adult teeth affected, often at the roots. Interestingly, children’s milk teeth were free from caries. Adults frequently experienced tooth loss, averaging a 6% loss over their lifetimes, excluding wisdom teeth.

These results suggest that tooth infections and aches were common, likely impacting daily life.

The Vikings weren’t just suffering in silence; they actively attempted dental care. Evidence of toothpick use, front teeth filing, and even treatment for infected teeth were found. Molars showed filed holes from the crown to the pulp, probably to relieve toothache caused by infection.

This method mirrors modern dental treatments, where drilling into infected teeth relieves pressure. It’s unclear whether Vikings conducted these procedures themselves or sought help.

Cultural Significance of Teeth

Filed front teeth, found predominantly in males, may have served as identity markers. This practice indicates that teeth held significant cultural importance in Viking society. The study suggests that Viking Age dentistry might have been more sophisticated than previously thought, with a better understanding of oral health than assumed.

This study offers more than just a medical perspective; it sheds light on the cultural aspects of Viking life. The care and attention given to teeth, from practical health to aesthetic modifications, reflect a society that valued oral health and appearance.

Such findings challenge the stereotypical image of Vikings and offer a more nuanced view of their daily lives.

Advancements in Viking Dentistry

The dental techniques observed in Viking remains were not rudimentary. The evidence of infection treatment and cosmetic modifications speaks to a level of sophistication in their dental knowledge.

These practices show parallels with modern dentistry, highlighting an unexpected advancement in medical understanding during the Viking Age.

This groundbreaking research opens doors for further study into the health and cultural practices of ancient civilizations. Understanding the significance of oral health in Viking society could lead to more discoveries about their lifestyle, medical practices, and societal norms.

As we uncover more about the Vikings, our perception of them evolves from mere warriors to a complex society with advanced practices.

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Source: “Viking dentistry was surprisingly advanced” — ScienceDaily

WTF Fun Fact 13565 – A Way To Regrow Teeth?

Many of us grapple with tooth loss after an injury or other dental issue – so wouldn’t it be nice if, instead of paying thousands of dollars for a porcelain replacement, scientists found a way to help us regrow teeth?

Well, we’re getting closer!

Researchers from the University of Plymouth have made groundbreaking progress, unveiling a gene that may hold the secret to tooth regeneration.

The Power of Stem Cells

Historically, stem cells have been the beacon of hope in understanding and treating many diseases. That’s because they hold unparalleled potential by being capable of transforming into almost any cell type the body might need. Whether it’s forming new blood cells or rejuvenating bone cells, stem cells are invaluable in helping us recover and regenerate.

It’s no wonder, then, that scientists often harvest stem cells from youthful sources like primary teeth or wisdom teeth. Simply put, younger cells teem with vitality, making them robust candidates for regenerative medicine.

Stem cell therapy has, over the years, provided relief to patients battling conditions ranging from Alzheimer’s and diabetes to multiple sclerosis.

However, only recently have scientists honed in on how stem cells can revolutionize dental health.

Revolutionary Findings to Help Regrow Teeth

Dr. Bing Hu of the Peninsula Dental School at the University of Plymouth and his global team of scientists have uncovered a game-changing revelation: the Dlk1 gene. This gene seems to be the catalyst for enhanced stem cell activation and tissue renewal.

Their journey began with the discovery of a previously unknown group of stem cells in mouse incisors.

Typically found in muscles and bones, these mesenchymal cells spring into action when exposed to the Dlk1 gene. The result? An increased production of dentin – a crucial component in teeth.

Even more impressive was Dlk1’s ability to regenerate tissues in mice with dental injuries.

Future Implications

Of course, with all major discoveries come the caveats. Dr. Hu emphasizes the importance of further studies to cement their initial findings. Yet, he remains optimistic about transitioning from animal models to human trials soon.

This research is a beacon of hope for those who have struggled financially to have lost teeth replaced. Imagine a future where dental procedures are not only more efficient but also more affordable. A future where losing a tooth doesn’t spell permanent loss, but a temporary inconvenience.

While the Plymouth team’s findings are revolutionary, they aren’t the first to tread this path. Back in 2021, a study from Japan revealed the potential of targeting genes to regrow teeth in animals. Their focus? The USAG-1 gene. Fast forward to today, and this Japanese team is setting the stage for a 2024 clinical trial, targeting tooth regeneration in humans.

If all goes well, by 2030, we might be ushering in a new era of dental care.

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Source: “Humans Have a Third Set of Teeth. New Medicine May Help Them Grow” — Popular Mechanics and “Scientists Discover New Gene That Can Help Repair Teeth” — Today’s RDH

WTF Fun Fact – Medieval Dentistry

WTF Fun Fact - medieval dentists

Medieval dentists had many of the same skill-sets as modern dentists. They could fill cavities, treat facial fractures, spot oral cancer, and whiten teeth. Additionally, they could make dentures out of cow bone and human teeth. WTF Fun Facts