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Ice Age Dentistry

Some human teeth have been found in Italy that show evidence of dentistry around 13,000 years ago, even earlier than the development of grain cereals, which are blamed for a lot of tooth decay. Earlier teeth had been found with evidence of drilling, but the two teeth from near Lucca in northern Italy appear to have deliberate fillings! Archaeologist Stephano Benazzi explains.

The holes contain traces of bitumen, with plant fibres and hairs embedded in it, which Benazzi thinks are evidence of prehistoric fillings.

While the purpose of the plants and hairs is unknown, it appears that they were added to the cavity at the same time as the drilling, so are not simply the remains of food eaten later.

The Paleolithic dentist would have drilled out the cavities and filled the holes with bitumen to reduce pain and to keep food out of the pulp chamber, just like in modern dentistry, says Benazzi.

It couldn't have been pleasant. Read more about these early fillings at New Scientist. -via Gizmodo

(Image credit: Stefano Benazzi)


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