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Teeth are a Window to Our Ancestry

 

Did you know that your teeth can provide information about your whole-body health? This insight has allowed scientists to discover much about early human health history.  A study published in the journal Current Anthropology describes how scientists have discovered a way to examine ancient human teeth for signs of vitamin D deficiency. It's fascinating look back into the past, as these studies have provided surprising information.

Vitamin D deficiency is considered to be one of the most common health issues in the modern world. A deficiency in this vitamin can affect you in many ways, with one of the most severe conditions being rickets, or bone softening. Vitamin D can be obtained from food, but few foods contain the nutrient. Instead, the most natural way to get vitamin D is through exposure to sunlight. This exposure was easily obtained through daily life in rural, agricultural communities throughout history.

At the time of the Industrial Revolution, many people began to work indoors, reducing their exposure to sunlight. The examination of bones from this period shows the direct evidence of rickets, confirming that vitamin D deficiency was indeed a problem during this period. However, the usefulness of bones in historical studies is constrained by how long those bones survive.

New research found that mineralization defects in tooth dentin can also demonstrate periods of vitamin D deficiency. The examination of ancient teeth using this insight suggests that vitamin D deficiency may have been an issue during even the earliest time periods. However, as previously thought, vitamin D deficiency did increase broadly in the modern industrial age as people migrated from farming communities to urban environments and indoor activities. 

This research makes it clear that your overall health and your oral health are interconnected. For modern humans today, this interconnection is commonly observed in people who are missing teeth. A lack of teeth can result in loss of bone in your jaw and a change in your appearance over time.  If you are missing any teeth, this is a good reason to discuss dental implant options with an AAID credentialed dental implant professional.

 

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