According to researchers, scanning teeth may disclose person's lifetime exposure to toxins and metals linked to brain diseases, such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
"Teeth are of particular interest to us for the measurement of chemical exposure in fetal and childhood development," said Manish Arora, associate professor in preventive medicine and dentistry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York.
"They provide a chronological record of exposure from their microchemical composition in relation to defined growth lines, much like the rings in a tree trunk," said Arora.
The researchers used the dental biomarker technology to distinguish breast-fed babies from formula fed babies.
Now this technology can be applied to study the link between early iron exposure and late-life brain diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, which are associated with the abnormal processing of iron, the study said.
"Our analysis of iron deposits in teeth as a method for retrospective determination of exposure is just one application: we believe teeth have the potential to help track the impact of pollution on health globally," Arora said.
The study was published online in the journal Nature Reviews Neurology.
"Only now do we have the technology available to use to look back in time at someone's diet as a child, more than 60 years after they stopped wearing diapers. State-of-the-art imaging technology is a chemical time machine that can tell us about decades-old chemical exposures that are equivalent to a drop of ink in a swimming pool," said one of the researchers Dominic Hare University of Technology, Sydney, Australia.