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Wax Filling Was the Cutting Edge of Stone-Age Dentistry

Health & Wellness  (tags: Alternative Med, archaeological, dental, disease, healthcare, humans, medicine, prevention, protection, safety, science, study, treatment )

- 2069 days ago -
But a new discovery reveals that fillings aren't just modern conveniences: they date back to the Stone Age. Researchers have discovered that a tooth on a 6500-year-old human jawbone has a large cavity covered by a beeswax cap--making that wax the oldest->

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Kit B (276)
Monday September 24, 2012, 12:50 pm
This Stone Age human jawbone contains a tooth with the oldest filling ever found. (discover magazine)

We’re lucky to live in a modern age, an age when, instead of ripping out a painful cavity-ridden tooth, we can have dentists drill away the rotten bit and plug up the hole with a filling. But a new discovery reveals that fillings aren’t just modern conveniences: they date back to the Stone Age. Researchers have discovered that a tooth on a 6500-year-old human jawbone has a large cavity covered by a beeswax cap—making that wax the oldest dental filling ever discovered.

The well-cared-for jaw was discovered in a cave in Slovenia. Radiocarbon dating indicates that both the jawbone and the wax filling come from the Stone Age. And a close examination of the teeth shows that the left canine has worn enamel, a vertical crack, and a beeswax cap that partially fills the cavity.

While the beeswax may have been applied as a coating before the crack opened, or placed after death as part of a funeral ritual, the researchers think it was a filling. It looks like the cavity formed before the wax’s application, and it seems odd that a funeral ritual would have targeted a single tooth—no wax was placed on the other teeth, even those with some damage. This particular crack would have been a nasty, painful cavity, and the beeswax probably soothed the pain and insulated the damaged tooth from temperature changes and contact with food. Today’s fillings serve a similar purpose—but we drill a cavity before filling it in order to remove the decayed part of the tooth. For that kind of technology, our 6500-year-old friend would have to…go back another 2500 years.

by Sophie Bushwick in Human Origins| Discover Magazine |

JL A (281)
Monday September 24, 2012, 12:58 pm
What's old becomes new again or rediscovered and evolved? Fascinating...

Angelika R (143)
Monday September 24, 2012, 3:16 pm
An ingenious idea!

Kit B (276)
Monday September 24, 2012, 3:19 pm

It does make one appreciate the need for basic things leading to discovery of new ideas.

Michela M (3964)
Monday September 24, 2012, 4:10 pm

Evelyn W (15)
Monday September 24, 2012, 4:17 pm
and we think that we are so smart now...

Past Member (0)
Monday September 24, 2012, 5:26 pm

Dominika Styczynska (7)
Monday September 24, 2012, 11:54 pm

Frans Badenhorst (582)
Tuesday September 25, 2012, 4:40 am
really??... cool beans

Yvonne White (229)
Tuesday September 25, 2012, 2:39 pm
What's weird to me is that the link in the article points out that some people could drill out cavities 9000 yrs. ago! But they couldn't prove any fillings were used.. and then they stopped about 7000 yrs. ago, once metals were invented - I would've thought it would have been Easier with metal & fillings also. they suggest the pain might've just been too much to bear - but I would think Opium, etc. would've worked & we know mankind has always been experimenting with drugs! "Human teeth excavated from an archaeological site in Pakistan show that dentistry was thriving as recently as 9,000 years ago.
Researchers excavating a Stone Age graveyard found a total of 11 teeth that had been drilled, including one that had apparently undergone a complex procedure to hollow out a cavity deep inside the tooth."

Azaima A (207)
Tuesday September 25, 2012, 2:57 pm

Angelina F (25)
Wednesday September 26, 2012, 11:18 am
thanks for the share. interesting. I've passed it on =)
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