6,500 Year Old Dental Work Shows Dental Advancements

Technological advances have made tooth care more efficient and comfortable than ever. With the comfort and efficiency of dentistry today, it is hard to think about where dentistry started. Dentistry has been around in different forms for thousands of years. Archeologists and anthropologists do not yet know how far back dentistry goes because physical evidence of dentistry is limited. One of the oldest discoveries of dental work dates back 6,500 years.

2012 Beeswax Filling Discovery

dreamstime_xs_27011064In 2012, researchers found a 6,500 year old human jaw bone in a cave in southern Slovenia that showed possible evidence of early dentistry. One of the teeth was cracked, and traces of a beeswax filling was discovered. Modern analysis techniques revealed that a vertical crack running through the tooth exposed the sensitive dentin layer under the enamel. The upper part of the crack was filled with beeswax.

The team could not definitively say whether or not the beeswax was applied before or after time of death. It is possible that the beeswax was applied as part of a funeral ritual. If the filling occurred prior to death, it was likely placed with the intention of preventing pain. The dentin layer is more sensitive than enamel, and the crack would have caused tooth pain. Beeswax usually contains honey and propolis, both of which have antibacterial qualities that could protect the tooth from infection. If the filling was placed antemortem, this discovery could provide the earliest physical evidence of dental fillings in history.

From Beeswax to Composite

Repairing tooth damage is important, but beeswax doesn’t compare to the materials used today. Tooth damage and decay is painful, and can put your oral and physical health at risk. Infections may develop as a result of damage, which could spread to nearby teeth or to other parts of your body. Untreated damage may also worsen over time.

Today, fillings used in cavities are largely made out of a durable, tooth-colored composite material.Tooth damage like the vertical crack affecting the tooth from Slovenia is not usually repaired with fillings. Instead, porcelain veneers or crowns can be placed over cracked teeth to protect them from further harm and prevent sensitivity. These types of restoration work are more effective at fixing larger damage than fillings.

If you have a damaged tooth and would like to learn more about dental restorations, please call 303-759-5652 today to schedule an appointment with a Denver dentist at Park Meadows Dental Care.