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29Oct2012

A Look Back At Ancient Dentistry

ANCIENT DENTISTRY WAS PROBABLY VERY SCARY, so we felt like it couldn’t be more apropos to talk about it near Halloween! Think about what it was like to live during a time when the only fix for a toothache was to pull (or knock) the tooth out—without anesthetic—and leave a gaping hole there, which led to bone loss and eventually losing all the rest of your teeth! Yes, scary.

Thankfully, There’s Modern Dentistry

Makes you grateful for modern dentistry, doesn’t it? Here at our practice, we love the latest technologies and techniques that help us keep you comfortable, healthy, and beautiful. Let’s look back at the “roots” of dentistry and a few ancient tidbits:

Some First Evidence Of Dental Work

Some of the oldest evidence of dental work was found fairly recently in a 6500-year-old jawbone. A cavity deep enough to impact the dentin layer of the tooth (very painful) was filled with beeswax. Scientists aren’t sure how effective this was, but it probably reduced the pain and swelling.

Dental Care Found In Mummies

In ancient Egypt, reconstructive work was rare—but when they did it, they really did it. This bridge was made by stringing wire through donor teeth, tied to surrounding teeth (makes you wonder if the donors volunteered). These dentists also focused on preventative care. Recipes have been found for early breath mints—a concoction of cinnamon, frankincense, and honey.

Earliest Cosmetic Dentistry?

You probably thought diamond-studded grills on rap stars were a modern phenomenon. Maybe not. Among ancient Mayans it appears it was fashionable to have your teeth embedded with precious stones. Tiny holes were chipped out of teeth and colorful gems were glued in. However, we’re guessing they didn’t sing rap songs.

Modern Dentistry Rocks

We’ve come a long way in 6500 years. From detecting cavities before they’re visible to the naked eye, to reconstructive work that restores functionality and health, to cosmetic procedures that create drop-dead-gorgeous smiles. Best of all, we don’t have to bear the pain and discomfort that people suffered during centuries gone by.

Our team hopes you had fun taking a look at ancient dentistry. And remember that any time you have questions about modern dentistry, always ask us!

Be Sure To Brush And Floss After That Halloween Candy!

Have a wonderful holiday. Be sure you Like our Facebook page! And, if you have a comment about how grateful you are for modern dentistry, please share it below!

As always, thank you for being our valued patients and friends.

Photo Credit 1: The oldest dental filling: A 6,500 year old tooth with a beeswax filling (within the yellow dotted line). Bernardini F, Tuniz C, Coppa A, Mancini L, Dreossi D, et al. PLoS ONE
Photo Credit 2: The Citizen Scientists League
Photo Credit 3: José C. Jiménez López

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