Researchers are suggesting that they have documented one of the earliest examples of theraputic dentistry. Two teeth have been analysed and found to have been restored with beeswax as the choice of material. The first, a Slovenian tooth from a man dating back 65 centuries and the second, a tooth from a lower jaw of an Italian man aged 24-30 years old, discovered in a cave near Trieste and reported to be 6500 years old!
The severe wear and tear seen on these teeth was probably due to activities besides eating, the researchers said – for instance, men of the time might have used their teeth to soften leather or help make tools, and the women bit down on threads to hold them while weaving. The researchers found beeswax had been applied to the left canine at about the time of the man’s death.
They managed to figure out the age of the beeswax using a large ion accelerator, which let them see what carbon isotopes were in the wax. Given the isotope analysis, they were able to establish a time line from when the tooth would have been around. They couldn't however, confirm if this filling was made shortly before or after the person’s death. If it was when the person was still alive, ‘this finding is perhaps the most ancient evidence of prehistoric dentistry in Europe,’ said researcher who is also an archaeologist.
It may be the oldest known direct example of a therapeutic dental filling uncovered to date. Assuming this filling was a case of dentistry, it was likely meant to reduce pain and sensitivity. Researchers have now decided to carry our further investigations to establish how effective a remedy beeswax is.
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