What an old teeth tell us about a person's overall health? Plenty, according to a new study published in The Journal of Archaeological Science (JAS).

In an academic paper titled "The rachitic tooth: A histological examination," scientists analyzed from the 18th and 19th centuries, focusing particularly on the structure of the teeth.  All of the skeletons studied indicated the person suffered from serious Vitamin D deficiency.  The information gained is not only important in understanding how teeth develop but in uncovering the health and dental habits of our ancestors.

A team of researchers led by anthropologist Megan Brickley "determined who likely had rickets from their bones and then analyzed their teeth, cutting each tooth into several transparent slices, thinner than a sheet of tissue paper, and examining them under microscopes" (NYT).  The analysis of individuals who suffered from rickets (caused by Vitamin D deficiency) provides important data for both historians and modern health professionals.  The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that Vitamin D deficiency leaves patients at risk for osteoporosis and bone less, while scientists are still studying the potential connection to Type 2 diabetes and various forms of cancer. 

Full analysis of the study can be found in The New York Times: Old Teeth Tell New Stories About People Who Didn't Get Enough Sun (07/19/2016).