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Good read: The surprising dental habits of Vikings

Dec. 18, 2023
Learn what researchers have found that indicated surprisingly advanced dentistry for Vikings in Sweden more than a thousand years ago.
Elizabeth S. Leaver, Digital content manager

Enjoy this “good read,” an excerpt from an article or other online source related to dentistry curated and shared with DentistryIQ readers.

A study of some 3,300 teeth from 171 people from the Viking Age in Varnhem, Sweden, from around 10th-12th century AD, indicate “surprisingly advanced dentistry” and provide previously unknown insights about people from that place and time.

The research from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden and published in the journal PLOS ONE suggests that caries, tooth infections, and toothache were common among the Swedish Viking population in Varnhem—and also signs of people trying to take care of their teeth in various ways, including evidence of using toothpicks, filing front teeth, and even dental treatment of teeth with infections.

Overall, the findings “provide rare insights into early Christian life in a Swedish Viking settlement. A relatively high prevalence of carious lesions, in both teeth and individuals, indicates nutritional components of digestible carbohydrates such as starches. Tooth pain and tooth loss, as a result of dental caries, attrition and infections, were common and affected everyday life. The findings … provide an extraordinary glimpse of a long-lost world and a rare and essential understanding of our ancestors, and life and death during the Viking Age.”

Read Caries prevalence and other dental pathological conditions in Vikings from Varnhem, Sweden in PLOS ONE

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About the Author

Elizabeth S. Leaver | Digital content manager

Elizabeth S. Leaver is the digital content manager for Endeavor Business Media's dental group. She has a degree in journalism from Northeastern University in Boston and many years of experience working in niche industries specializing in creating content, editing, content marketing, and publishing digital and magazine content. She lives in the Boston area; you can reach her at [email protected].