Researchers discover Stone Age tooth with world’s oldest dental filling

Sep 20, 2012
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Researchers discover Stone Age tooth with world’s oldest dental filling

Going to the dentist today is horrible thing for many people. I can only imagine how bad having a cracked tooth or cavity 6500 years ago would be. Scientists have found what they say is the oldest dental filling ever in a tooth from human who lived during the Stone Age.

The scientists say that a simple wax had been applied to a broken tooth dating back 6500 years making it the oldest dental filling on record. The discovery adds evidence that Stone Age Neolithic communities had a surprisingly sophisticated knowledge of dentistry. The scientists say that the tooth belonged to a man between 24 and 30 years old who lived in what is now called Slovenia.

The filled tooth was discovered in a fossilized jawbone found near the village of Lonche. The discovery was found early in the last century and described, catalog, and then filed away in a museum near Trieste, Italy. The fossilized jawbone set in the museum for 101 years without anyone noticing the ancient filling.

The scientists constructed a high-resolution 3-D image of the repaired tooth. The 3-D image showed a long vertical crack and an area of the tooth enamel that had been worn away creating a large cavity. The large cavity exposed the dentine of the tooth. The material the ancient humans used to repair the tooth is beeswax. Beeswax is apparently a very good choice for dental fillings because it has both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. The scientists note that they can't rule out the filling was applied as part of the burial ritual, but the placing of the wax suggests it was purposely added to seal the damaged tooth of a living person.

[via New Scientist]


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