Scientists discover advanced dentistry in Viking teeth

A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Gothenburg and the Västergötlands Museum in Sweden has shed new light on Viking-era dentistry. The analysis of over 3000 teeth from 171 Viking individuals, both children and adults, revealed that dental care during this time was more advanced than previously believed.

Using modern dentistry techniques such as X-ray scans and dental probes, the researchers discovered various signs of tooth modification among the Vikings. Evidence of toothpick use, filing of front teeth, and dental treatment for infected teeth was found. The teeth under examination date back to the 10th to 12th centuries CE and were recovered from the well-preserved Varnhem archaeological site in Sweden.


Of the adult teeth analyzed, 13 percent displayed signs of cavities, primarily on the surface of the roots. Adults had also lost an average of 6 percent of their teeth, excluding wisdom teeth. Interestingly, teeth from children under the age of 12 showed no indications of tooth decay. The researchers also noted evidence of dental treatments aimed at filling holes created by molars to alleviate toothaches caused by infections.

According to Carolina Bertilsson, an odontologist from the University of Gothenburg, these findings are similar to modern dental treatments involving drilling infected teeth. It remains uncertain whether the Vikings performed these procedures themselves or sought outside help. The deliberate filing of front teeth observed in one individual may have served as a means of identification, a finding seen in previous studies as well.


Teeth are known for their resilience, making them more likely to be preserved in archaeological excavations, providing valuable insights into ancient cultures. Notably, the study highlighted that tooth loss became a bigger issue for the Varnhem Vikings after the age of 40, surpassing tooth decay even with their dental care practices.

Carolina Bertilsson concludes that this research offers new perspectives on Viking oral health and suggests that dentistry during the Viking Age was likely more advanced than previously assumed.

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