The oldest dental discovery dating back 14,000 years was found in Italy

The oldest dental discovery dating back 14,000 years was found in Italy
The οldest deпtal discοvery datiпg back 14,000 years was fοuпd iп Italy
Archaeology rawhere15

Dentistry, in one form or another, has been practiced for at least 14,000 years, although tooth extraction and toothache remedies probably date back much earlier. The study of ancient remains from around the world has demonstrated the ingenuity that existed in the application of surgical and cosmetic dental practices.


Dentistry, in one form or another, has been practiced for at least 14,000 years, although tooth extraction and toothache remedies probably date back much earlier. The study of ancient remains from around the world has demonstrated the ingenuity that existed in the application of surgical and cosmetic dental practices.

In 2018, paleoanthropologist Stefano Benazzi of the University of Bologna in Italy identified the oldest known evidence for dentistry, dating to the Late Upper Paleolithic. The well-preserved skeletal remains of a young man, dating back some 14,000 years, found in northern Italy in 1988, were removed for examination from him. Using scanning electron microscopy, the scientists revealed micro-scratches, chips and cut marks on the tooth caused by sharp flint tools scratching and prying to attack what would have been a painful cavity. The infected tooth was found to have been partially cleaned with the flint tools, marking an important breakthrough in the history of prehistoric dental surgical treatment.

The oldest discovery of dentistry found in Bologna, Italy, dates back 14,000 years (Open Access / Scientific Reports)

The year before, Dr. Benazzi had made another important discovery: the world's oldest dental fillings. They were seen inside a 13,000-year-old pair of front teeth and were made of bitumen. Each of the individual's front teeth had a large hole on the surface of the incisor that extended into the pulp chamber deep within the tooth. The holes had small horizontal marks that suggested they were drilled and it appeared that bitumen had been added to the cavity at the same time as the drilling. The researchers also found plant fibers and hair trapped in the bitumen, which may have been part of the fill material. According to Dr. Benazzi, fillings most likely served the same purpose they do today: reduce pain and keep food out of cavities. The research team suggested that the bitumen and plant matter infill was chosen for its antiseptic qualities; used to prevent infection.

A later example of a dental filling was found in Slovenia in a 6,500-year-old jawbone, which had a cavity deep enough to impact the dentin layer of the tooth: it had been filled with beeswax. Scientists aren't sure how effective this was, but it probably reduced pain and swelling.

Advances in Tooth Drilling

The Indus Valley Civilization yielded archaeological evidence for the earliest use of bow drills in dentistry, dating back 9,000 years. Sites in Pakistan revealed dental practices that involved curing tooth-related disorders with arc drills operated, perhaps, by skilled beadworkers. The scientists recreated the bow drills using the same natural materials: a wooden bow with strings was tied to a rotating shaft, and the shaft was used as a drill with a flint head made to penetrate the teeth. They discovered that this ancient form of dentistry was reliable and effective.

An experimental reconstruction of a bow and flint-tipped drill used to drill molar teeth found in a Neolithic burial ground in Mehrgarh, Pakistan. Photo source.

The myth of the tooth worm

The first and most enduring explanation for what causes tooth decay was the toothworm, as shown in the ivory sculptures to the left, which was first noted by the Sumerians around 5000 BC. The hypothesis was that dental caries was the result of a dental worm boring into and decimating the teeth. This is logical, since the holes created by the cavities are somewhat similar to those drilled by worms in wood.

The idea of the dental worm has been found in the writings of ancient Greek philosophers and poets, as well as those of ancient Indian, Japanese, Egyptian, and Chinese cultures. It lasted until the 13th century, when French surgeon Guy de Chauliac was still promoting the belief that worms cause cavities.

Dentistry in Ancient Egypt

Historical records reveal numerous dental and hygienic procedures practiced by the ancient Egyptians. The Edwin Smith Papyrus, written in the 17th century B.C. C., but that it can reflect previous manuscripts of the year 3000 a. C., includes the treatment of various dental ailments, and the Ebers papyrus, dating from the 16th century BC. to oral problems. four

of these are remedies for loose teeth: the tooth in question is filled with a mixture similar to a modern composite filling: a filling agent (ground barley) is mixed with a liquid matrix (honey) and an antiseptic agent (yellow ochre). This is used as an actual filling or as a splint to hold the tooth in place. Scientists performing CT scans on the head of a 2,100-year-old Egyptian mummy also found evidence that the cavities were filled with flax, which may have first been dipped in a medicine such as fig juice or cedar oil.

Hesi-Re is the first named "dentist" in ancient Egypt and the world. He was an official, physician, and scribe who lived during the Third Dynasty of Egypt, around 1600 B.C. C., and served under Pharaoh Djoser. He bore titles such as "Chief Dentists and Physicians", "Tooth Doctor" and "Chief King's Scribes". Although he was classified as chief dentist, it is not entirely clear what this title actually means, but he is credited with being the first man to recognize periodontal disease (gum disease).

Pharaonic physicians were no strangers to reconstructive work: there have been three cases of a dental bridge: one or more missing teeth are reattached by means of a gold or silver wire to the surrounding teeth. In some cases, a bridge was made using donor teeth. It is not clear, however, whether these works were done during the patient's life or after death, to order them, as it were, before his burial.

Incredible dental work found on a 4,000-year-old mummy. The two middle teeth are donor teeth.

Mayan jewel

The Mayans are credited with being the masters of cosmetic dentistry, as they are known to decorate teeth by inlaying them with precious stones or carving notches and grooves into them. Small holes were extracted from the teeth and ornamental stones, including jade, were attached with an adhesive made from natural resins, such as plant sap, that was mixed with other chemicals and crushed bone. Dentists likely had a sophisticated knowledge of dental anatomy because they knew how to drill teeth without touching the internal pulp.

In 2016, archaeologists unearthed the 1,600-year-old skeleton of an upper-class woman at the famous Teotihuacan ruins in Mexico. She had an elongated skull, a denture made of a green stone known as serpentine, and her upper front teeth were inlaid with round pyrite stones. This was a practice used among the nobility in the Mayan regions of southern Mexico and Central America.

Mayan 'shine' on a male skull found in Chiapas, Mexico. Photo source.

Dentistry of the Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages and throughout the 19th century, dentistry was not a profession in itself, and dental procedures were often performed by barbers or general practitioners. Barbers generally limited their practice to tooth extraction which relieved pain and associated chronic dental infection.

In the 1400s, dentures seemed to take more of the modernized form we see today. These dentures were still made of carved animal bone or ivory, but some were made of human teeth. Grave robbers used to steal the teeth of the recently deceased and sell them to dentists, and the poor used to earn money by extracting and selling them. The finished denture would not be very aesthetically pleasing or very stable in the mouth, and was often attached to the patient's remaining teeth. Another problem that occurred with these dentures is that they tended not to last very long and began to rot over time.

In 1723, French surgeon Pierre Fauchard published 'The Dental Surgeon, A Treatise on Teeth' and became known as the father of modern dentistry because his book was the first to describe a complete system for caring for and treating teeth. .

Today's modern dental practices could not have developed without the ingenuity and experimentation of ancient people beginning at least 9,000 years ago.

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