Ancient Tooth Offers Possible Evidence of Pre-Historic Dentistry
Date: September 27, 2012 Richard Jones

Information regarding dentistry during pre-historic times may start to have more details now, thanks to a recent discovery of researchers on an ancient tooth. The tooth, which is dated as being 6,500 years old and found in Slovenia, showed signs of being filled with beeswax – in what could be one of the earliest forms of working with a dental filling material to deal with dental problems.

The researchers from Italy’s Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics, led by Federico Bernardini and Claudio Tuniz, reported in the open access journal PLOS ONE that the ancient tooth (dated as 6,500 years old) may have been filled with the beeswax material around the time of the individual’s death – although the researchers cannot confirm for a fact if the filling was placed right before, or right after, the death. A vertical crack was also found on the ancient tooth’s dentin and enamel layers; the wear and tear seen on the tooth may be due to the use of the teeth apart from eating or nourishment – such as weaving, which is believed to be a part of the Neolithic female’s normal activities.

If the beeswax filling was placed on the tooth before the individual’s death, then it is believed to have been placed as a way to deal with the discomfort and pain from the cracked part – evidence that ancient dentistry was already being practised during pre-historic times. Proof of dentistry being practised during ancient times is very sparse; the discovery of this new specimen will help bring light to the pre-historic dentistry practises in Europe. The 6,500 year old tooth discovered in Slovenia and filled with beeswax is now considered to be the oldest known direct sample of the use of a therapeutic-palliative dental filling in pre-historic times.

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