General, Research, Technology

What can be learned by examining a person’s teeth?

Do you know that teeth are given to us not only forhaving to chew food? In a new study, American scientists found that teeth can talk about key points in our lives. For example, having studied the composition of the teeth of any person, researchers can find out if he has children, whether he was in prison and if he went far from his hometown. And all because the bone tissue covering the roots of our teeth called cement reacts sharply to all serious changes in our lives and changes its composition in response. Scientists were convinced of this during the study of the teeth of 15 dead people, whose lives were told by their relatives and friends.

Shot from the movie Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Cement - This is the bone tissue that covers the lower parts of the teeth of humans and animals. It protects tooth roots from damage, gives teeth strength and is involved in the restoration of damaged areas.

As part of the scientific work, researchers studied 47teeth taken from 15 deceased people aged 25 to 69 years. Scientists chose this particular group of people, because relatives retold their life story in detail. Since, unlike other components of teeth, cement grows throughout a person’s life, scientists decided to study this particular bone tissue. In their opinion, various emotional upheavals should have left at least some marks on people's teeth.

What are teeth for?

The authors of the study were completely right. For people who suffered from serious illnesses, were serving prison sentences or moving from village to city, the cement structure had irregularities. Studying the lower parts of the teeth of dead people under a microscope, scientists noticed that throughout the life of a person, cement forms new layers. So, human teeth are somewhat similar to tree trunks, on which the so-called tree rings. By counting their number on a sawn tree, you can find out its exact age.

It looks like tree rings on a tree trunk

Tree rings formed on tree trunks every year. In fact, this is the reaction of plants to climate change. In winter, trees hardly grow and a thin ring of dark color forms on their trunks. In spring, summer and autumn, trees are active and a broad and bright ring is formed on their trunks. Counting each pair of such rings, you can find out the age of the tree.

Unfortunately, scientists did not specify whichthese or those vital events leave traces on the teeth. After all, it is logical to assume that changes in the structure of cement during pregnancy are very different from changes that occur with bone tissue when serving a prison term. However, study leader Paolo Cerrito noted that their study proves that teeth are far from “dead” parts of the body that are needed only for chewing food.

The structure of the human tooth

From now on, we can assume that the teeth are certain"Information storage", on which the key moments of each person’s life are recorded. If scientists manage to find out exactly what changes in the structure of cement occur in certain life situations of a person, they will be able to develop a technology to restore the biography of people. In the meantime, we can only say that if there are no special changes in a person’s dental “growth rings”, it means that his life went quite calmly. But if there are many changes, then the person obviously lived a life full of events, which was rich in stresses and troubles.

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How to find out a person’s biography?

In the long run, this discovery mayhelp archaeologists restore biographies of people who lived hundreds of years ago. Or, a new technology may be used by forensics. Just imagine - somewhere in the forest a dead body of a man was found, about which nothing is known. Experts will be able to examine his teeth under a microscope and find out what life events he has encountered. By comparing these data with biographies of missing people, they may well recognize a person’s identity.

Thanks to the teeth, forensics can recognize victims. Shot from the series "Gotham"

In general, the remains of teeth help archaeologists perfectlyto study the life of ancient people even now. In 2019, we already talked about how Canadian scientists discovered the profession of an Egyptian who lived 4000 years ago by the condition of her teeth. The two central incisors of the girl were so worn out that they formed a wedge shape. And on the remaining teeth of the Egyptian she found flat abrasions. Based on all this, scientists suggested that the girl often had to split reed with her teeth, but who did she work with? You can find out the answer to this question right now by reading the material devoted to this topic.