Thursday, July 29, 2010


Apologies for the lack of posts this week - I've had toothache. Two and a half years ago I had to go to the dentist to get a molar rebuilt. If I was sorry for myself then I am even sorrier for myself this week because I have had to have the same tooth drilled out for a root canal job - of which only half has been done and I am up for a rematch next Monday. Ugh. Why anyone as nice as my dentist would want to become a dentist I really don't know but he assures me that he had the vocational urge from childhood.

Anyway, the last time that I went through this particular nightmare I posted a set of links to dentistry in Ancient Egypt, which you can find here.

Since then there has been a major reveiw in the Journal of Comparative Human Biology of over 3000 mummy analyses (summarized on the Discovery Channel website by Rossella Lorenzi) which shows that dental problems were a common feature of life in Egypt:

Worn teeth, periodontal diseases, abscesses and cavities tormented the ancient Egyptians, according to the first systematic review of all studies performed on Egyptian mummies in the past 30 years.

After examining research of more than 3,000 mummies, anatomists and paleopathologists at the University of Zurich concluded that 18 percent of all mummies in case reports showed a nightmare array of dental diseases.

"Evidence of dental disorders is plentiful because usually teeth are among the best preserved parts of a body. As for other diseases, the published studies do not always provide in-depth details. Nevertheless, we came across some interesting findings," senior author and medical doctor Frank Ruhli, head of the Swiss Mummy Project at the University of Zurich, told Discovery News.

There's also a complete article about analysis of nine human skulls, including dentition, complete with scan photos, entitled Head and Skull Base Features of Nine Egyptian Mummies: Evaluation with High-Resolution CT and Reformation Techniques by Heidi Hoffman and Patricia A. Hudgins on the American Journal of Roentgenology.

There's a whole chapter on Egyptian dental problems and dental surgery in Joyce Filer's book Disease, which quite makes my hair stand on end. Fascinating stuff though!

Finally, here are some health and beauty tips from Paula Veiga - wise lessons learned from ancient Egypt!

All I can say is that if I am a basket-case about dental work in this day and age I simply wouldn't have survived ancient times anywhere on the planet. It's the first time I've felt any real sort of emphathy with the likes of Ramesses II whose teeth must have been giving him serious pain at the time of his death.

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