Have Scientists Uncovered an Early Example of Dentistry?

Heading off to the local dentist to clean our teeth, to fill a cavity or to address an issue with our smile is a decidedly modern practice. However, this observation may soon be changing. A set of teeth dated to no fewer than 13,000 years in the past is beginning to challenge these perceptions.

Several modifications seem to be related to medicinal requirements. These could indicate that a crude understanding of oral hygiene was present much earlier than previously thought.

– They found bitumen within the teeth; a possible indication that it was used to treat an infection.

– Some chipping of the surfaces could have been done to remove a damaged portion of enamel.

– It is not yet known whether these are signs of a rudimentary dental intervention.

So, was this therapeutic dentistry? Maybe not—after all, lots of these neolithic groups modified their teeth for non-health related reasons, write the authors.”

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