SOURCE: Rayhan and Marvizi Cosmetic Dentistry
LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - Jul 3, 2012) - The "Journal of Archaeological Science" featured a study in the May issue from University of Nevada, Reno, which details a new research application for plaque.
Los Angeles dentist, Dr. Marvizi, is fascinated by the new application for dental calculus.
Researchers had to analyze plaque from 58 skeletons unearthed in a Spanish cathedral. The population was found to have lived between the 11th and the 19th centuries.
UNR anthropology chair and associate professor G. Richard Scott attempted his typical analysis methods, but only unclear results came out. He sent five samples to Dr. Simon R. Poulson, research professor in the Mackay School of Earth Sciences and Engineering. Poulson crushed the samples in the UNR Stable Isotope Lab and used a mass spectrometer for inspection.
"No one thought there was enough carbon and nitrogen in these tiny, 5- to 10- milligram samples considered measurable, but Dr. Poulson's work revealed there was," Scott says, cosmetic dentist in Los Angeles. "The results showed stable carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios similar to studies using bone collagen, which is the usual material used for this type of analysis."
Bone analysis is expensive and invasive, requiring multiple acid baths to isolate collagen from the bone. Museum curators are hesitant to allow this method because it mars the bone. Other methods analyze muscle, hair or nails.
"They are great, when you can find them," Scott says. "The problem is they decompose too rapidly."
Diets were analyzed from ratios of carbon and nitrogen. Proteins contained nitrogen, and plants contained carbon. Carbon samples display information on the types of vegetation the ancient population consumed.
This study can revolutionize ancient dietary research, and Scott is optimistic about its potential research capabilities.
"It can save a lot of time and effort, and allows for analysis when things like hair, muscle and nails are no longer available," Scott says, Long Beach dental expert.
Luckily for researchers, plaque can last for centuries without breaking down.
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