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Paleodontology - FAQ

What is paleodontology?
Paleodontology is a science investigating teeth, features of stomatognathic system and oral health of ancient populations or early forms of life through skeletal or fossil remains.

 

Which methods are used in paleodontological investigations?
Paleodontology combines methods used in forensic dentistry and interprets the results in archaeological circumstances.

 

What is the difference between forensic dentistry and paleodontology?
Although forensic dentists and paleodonotlogists very often use the same methods, the aim of their work is different. Identification of an unknown body is one of the most important parts of forensic dentist’s work. Matching the unknown body and the name of the missing person is of the highest importance in forensic dentistry. This has less or no importance in paleodontology, because single bodies or skeletal remains of individuals are in the majority of cases used for reconstruction of life of the whole population.

 

Why is paleodontology important?
Making the dental pathology profile of earlier human populations (including data about dental caries, antemortem tooth loss, periapical abscess, enamel hypoplasia, dental calculus and alveolar resorption) yields valuable clues regarding diet, food preparation, nutrition and subsistence. The distribution of dental diseases by age, sex and status group can aid in the identifying the differential effects of nutritional stress within a population. Diagnosis and interpretation of dental illnesses in paleodemographic contexts are important steps in the attempt to reconstruct past lives.

 

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