May 13, 2017

Dentistry may have started 13,000 years ago

Julio Cortez / AP

Going to the dentist can be a pain, but it was certainly much tougher 13,000 years ago when dental work could have started, according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

The dental details: Italian researchers recently analyzed a pair of 13,000-year-old incisors (think: your front four teeth and the four opposite on the bottom row) that were discovered 20 years ago. The images of the incisors show large, hollowed pits in the teeth that had previously been filled, which indicates some dental work had been done. Although the exact filling composition is hard to discern now, the researchers found traces of bitumen, vegetable fibers and hair.

Why it matters: This research, although not the oldest finding of dental work, is the oldest example of the use of fillings. It indicates that even prehistoric humans were curious and concerned about dental health and began curative practices for cavities.

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