Prevalence and severity of periodontal disease in a historical Austrian population.

Abstract

Objective: To assess the prevalence and severity of periodontitis based on different diagnostic methods in a historical Austrian population from the early middle ages. Background: The description of the oral health status of archaeological material can provide interesting insights into prevalence, severity, and extent of oral diseases. Herein, the periodontal health status of the skeletal remains of medieval Avars (700-800 AD), which were considered as one of the earliest Avarian settlements in Austria, was investigated. Methods: The skeletal remains of 128 Avars were examined; age and gender were estimated by standard forensic methods and tooth loss and root caries were recorded. Periodontitis was assessed by (a) measurement of the alveolar bone levels (ABL) and (b) evaluation of the interdental septa. Results: A mean ABL of 4.8 mm was determined, root caries tended to accumulate in teeth with a higher alveolar bone loss, and on average, 6.2 teeth were lost antemortem. Independent of the diagnostic method >90% of the subjects were judged as periodontally diseased, and age and tooth type were significant predictors. However, on the tooth level the presence of periodontitis varied considerably depending on the diagnostic method; that is, 7.6% versus 47.2% of the teeth were judged as healthy based on ABL or interdental septa, respectively. Conclusion: The periodontal status of the skeletal remains of medieval Avars revealed a considerable high prevalence of periodontitis (ie, >90% of this population displayed periodontal tissue breakdown). However, the diagnostic method, disease definition, and data presentation should be considered when comparing results of archaeological material

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