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Article

A Healthier Smile in the Past? Dental Caries and Diet in Early Neolithic Farming Communities from Central Germany

1
Center for Natural and Cultural History of Man, Faculty of Medicine/Dentistry, Danube Private University, Förthofstraße 2, 3500 Krems, Austria
2
Anthropology Department, University of California at Santa Cruz, 1156 High Street, Santa Cruz, CA 96064, USA
3
Department of Prosthodontics and Materials Science, University of Leipzig, Liebig Str. 12, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
4
State Office for Heritage Management and Archaeology Saxony-Anhalt and State Museum of Prehistory, Richard-Wagner Str. 9, 06114 Halle, Germany
5
Institute of Prehistory and Archaeological Science, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Basel, Spalenring 145, 4055 Basel, Switzerland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Kirstin Vach, Johan Peter Woelber and Gunter G.C. Kuhnle
Nutrients 2022, 14(9), 1831; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14091831
Received: 27 February 2022 / Revised: 12 April 2022 / Accepted: 25 April 2022 / Published: 27 April 2022
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutrition and Human Oral Health)
Dental health is closely linked to an individual’s health and diet. This bioarcheological study presents dental caries and stable isotope data obtained from prehistoric individuals (n = 101) from three Early Neolithic sites (c. 5500-4800 BCE) in central Germany. Dental caries and ante-mortem tooth loss (AMTL) were recorded and related to life history traits such as biological sex and age at death. Further, we correlate evidence on caries to carbon and nitrogen isotope data obtained from 83 individuals to assess the relationship between diet and caries. In 68.3% of the adults, carious lesions were present, with 10.3% of teeth affected. If AMTL is considered, the values increase by about 3%. The prevalence of subadults (18.4%) was significantly lower, with 1.8% carious teeth. The number of carious teeth correlated significantly with age but not sex. The isotopic data indicated an omnivorous terrestrial diet composed of domestic plants and animal derived protein but did not correlate with the prevalence of carious lesions. The combined evidence from caries and isotope analysis suggests a prevalence of starchy foods such as cereals in the diet of these early farmers, which aligns well with observations from other Early Neolithic sites but contrasts to Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age populations in Germany. View Full-Text
Keywords: caries; nutrition; oral health; stable isotope analysis; bioarcheology caries; nutrition; oral health; stable isotope analysis; bioarcheology
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MDPI and ACS Style

Nicklisch, N.; Oelze, V.M.; Schierz, O.; Meller, H.; Alt, K.W. A Healthier Smile in the Past? Dental Caries and Diet in Early Neolithic Farming Communities from Central Germany. Nutrients 2022, 14, 1831. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14091831

AMA Style

Nicklisch N, Oelze VM, Schierz O, Meller H, Alt KW. A Healthier Smile in the Past? Dental Caries and Diet in Early Neolithic Farming Communities from Central Germany. Nutrients. 2022; 14(9):1831. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14091831

Chicago/Turabian Style

Nicklisch, Nicole, Vicky M. Oelze, Oliver Schierz, Harald Meller, and Kurt W. Alt. 2022. "A Healthier Smile in the Past? Dental Caries and Diet in Early Neolithic Farming Communities from Central Germany" Nutrients 14, no. 9: 1831. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14091831

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