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Test advances shine light on ancient dentistry

-October 10, 2012

So, here’s the story. An elite young man in Thebes was in a lot of pain. It was around 2500 years ago, and he had a terrible sinus infection. (This is particularly meaningful to me at the moment, because I think I have one too.) This young man’s infection, however, was apparently caused by his cavity-ridden teeth (not my problem, I assure you).

Flash forward to the mid-1990s, and his mummified body is undergoing CT scans, where scientists discover a small piece of linen is packed in a cavity between his teeth. Unfortunately, the resolution on the CT scan cannot quite make out the what and the why of this piece of linen.

And, then, recently, researchers working with Andrew Wade of the University of Western Ontario, performed a high-resolution CT scan on his teeth. Subsequently, they reported in the International Journal of Paleopathology that the linen material was actually a dental treatment with a protective (perhaps herb or oil based) barrier to relieve the young man’s pain.

According to the researchers’ report, the CT scans were done using the “Toshiba Aquilion ONE320-slice scanner at the Montreal Neurological Institute. The mummy was scanned in 0.5mm thick slices, the smallest slice thickness for this scanner. The raw CT data were helically acquired at 120kV, and preprocessed using Smooth Body (FC02 – includes beam hardening correction and high resolution bone convolution filters.”

Yet another example of why I'm glad to be living in 2012. I'm off to the pharmacy now...

Reference:
Wade, Andrew D. et al. “Dental Wear, Decay, and Intervention in the Redpath Museum’s Theban Male.”

Here’s a link to his images and the original story on Yahoo news.

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