"Lucania has white teeth, Thais brown. How comes it? One has false
teeth, one her own. And you, Galla, lay aside your teeth at night just
as you do your silken dress." -- Martial
We always knew Roman ladies wore dentures because the satirists of the time made considerable sport of them, but now we know what they looked like. Italian researchers led by Simona Minozzi found this golden bridgework, dating from the first to the second century AD, "in the mouth of an unidentified woman who was buried in an elaborate mausoleum within a Roman necropolis." As Discover News reports:
Minozzi believes the unidentified Roman's bridgework was made from the woman's own teeth that probably fell out due to periodontal disease. Gold wire bound the teeth together, with some teeth possessing drill holes to strengthen the wire bond. More gold wire secured the replaced tooth to side teeth that remained in her jaw.
The discovery is outlined in the current issue of The American Journal of Medicine.
Another point of interest is the state of the woman's remaining teeth:
All of the woman's teeth showed signs of rubbing, suggesting she had used an abrasive dental powder.
Writings from the ancient Greeks refer to dental concoctions made out of sea salt, ground oyster shells and other gritty materials that were flavored with refreshing herbs and oils, not unlike some modern toothpastes.
Minozzi asked her own dentist about the rub marks, and he said these are even common today, when people brush their teeth "too intensely."