Science meets archaeology with discovery that dental X-rays reveal Vitamin D deficiency
Human teeth hold vital information about Vitamin D deficiency, a serious but often hidden condition that can now be identified by a simple dental X-ray, McMaster anthropologists Lori D’Ortenzio and Megan Brickley have found.
Their research appears today in the International Journal of Paleopathology.
The researchers and their colleagues had previously discovered that human teeth hold a detailed and permanent record of serious Vitamin D deficiency, or rickets. That record takes the form of microscopic deformities in dentin, the material that makes up the mass of the tooth, and can be extremely valuable for understanding precisely when people, even those who lived centuries ago, were deprived of sunlight, the main source of Vitamin D.
The record is preserved by enamel, which protects teeth from breaking down, unlike bones, which are subject to decay.