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DENTAL COOL: Mummy with a Mouthful of Cavities Discovered

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The man, whose name is unknown, was in his 20s or early 30s, and his teeth were in horrible shape. He had "numerous" abscesses and cavities, conditions that appear to have resulted, at some point, in a sinus infection, something potentially deadly, the study researchers said.

The pain the young man suffered would have been beyond words and drove him to see a dental specialist. Dentistry was nothing new in Egypt, ancient records indicate that it was being practiced at least as far back as when the Great Pyramids were built. Dental problems were also not unusual, the coarsely ground grain ancient Egyptians consumed was not good for the teeth. [Gallery: Scanning Mummies for Heart Disease]
 
A modern-day dentist would have a hard time dealing with the young man's severe condition and one can imagine that the ancient dentist must have felt overwhelmed. The researchers noted that even today infections associated with the teeth pose a "serious health risk."
 
Nevertheless the ancient specialist tried something to relieve his suffering. Using a piece of linen, perhaps dipped in a medicine such as fig juice or cedar oil, the expert created a form of "packing" in the young man's biggest and perhaps most painful cavity, located on the left side of his jaw between the first and second molars.
 
The packing acted as a barrier to prevent food particles from getting into the cavity, with any medicine on the linen helping to ease the pain, the study researchers said. Sadly, while this likely helped the young man out, he would succumb shortly after, perhaps in just a matter of weeks. Researchers can't say for sure the cause of death, but the sinus infection is a good possibility.
 
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This story was originally written for LiveScience and was reprinted with permission here. Copyright 2012 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved.

 

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