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A 6500-Year-Old Tooth Filling Was Made Of Beeswax

Posted 9/20/2012 6:00 am by

The yellow area is 6500-year-old beeswax used as tooth filler.

You don’t have to be a dentist to know that tooth pain is bad.  In olden times, the science of dentistry hadn’t been discovered yet, so it wasn’t like you could just go and have your rotted molar yanked out of your head and put in a display case by a quirky dentist.  No, you had to look for other means to restore your jaw functioning to its full chewing glory.  According to a recently analyzed jawbone fragment discovered in a cave wall in northern Slovenia, ancient man used beeswax as a way to fill rotting and broken teeth.

The owner of the teeth was a male in his late 20’s, which was probably pretty old going by standards 6500 years ago (the teeth found are believed to be between 6440 and 6650 years old); if its age is accurate, this is the oldest piece of dental filling ever discovered.  As for the tooth, it is believed that the beeswax was used on a cracked or broken tooth to help insulate it from heat and cold as it chewed on giant hunks of animal meat or whatever people ate in those days.  It is unsure if the technique worked, but ancient Egyptians used a combination of honey and minerals to fix loose and painful teeth.

The research article on the ancient tooth filling was released in the online journal PLoS One.  The jaw and teeth are on display at the National History Museum of Trieste in Italy.

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