Modern day dentists use drills and gold, amalgam, composite and porcelain for dental fillings, crowns, and other methods of restoring teeth that are damaged or decayed. But did you ever wonder what they used way back in the Stone Age?
Scientists think they might know.
In recently published papers, researchers at Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Italy concluded that a human jaw found more than 100 years ago in Slovenia has evidence of the earliest known dental filling. Careful analysis using modern scientific equipment shows the substance is beeswax.
The jaw, which had been sitting in a museum in Italy for years and was newly analyzed, dates to the Neolithic period about 6,500 years ago. It is believed to be that of a man in his late 20s to early 30s. The filled tooth was a left canine and had a deep vertical crack in the enamel down into the dentin, the softer layer of the tooth.
Researchers could not conclude whether the tooth was filled before or after death. If it was filled prior to death, they say, it was probably done to relieve pain from a deep crack likely caused by a non-food related activity like weaving. But if the filling was done after death, it was likely done as part of some sort of death ritual and the tooth likely cracked as it dried out post mortem.
The discovery is thought to be the earliest evidence to date of dental fillings for palliative care. Scientists had previously found evidence of the practice of dentistry from a 9,000-year-old grave site in Pakistan, but had never found actual evidence of a tooth filling.
Everyone knows that regular brushing helps prevent tooth decay and reduces cavities and the need for dental fillings, but sometimes choosing a toothbrush can seem overwhelming. After all, how many brushes did you see the last time you were on the oral care aisle of your local supermarket? Most people choose a toothbrush based on their personal preferences. Electric or manual? Soft, medium or hard bristles? What about the cost?
The first thing you should address when picking out a toothbrush is the size. Even some adults have smaller mouths, and a smaller toothbrush head can help clean your teeth more efficiently. Children may be in a rush to get a larger toothbrush, but in actuality a smaller one may be best. Brushing should focus on just one or two teeth at a time, so the brush head does not need to be so large that it covers 3 or 4 teeth. Also, use a separate toothbrush for appliances such as partials, dentures or retainers.
No matter what you’ve been told in the past, opt for the toothbrush with the soft bristles. Many people feel that soft bristled brushes do not clean their teeth as well as those with hard bristles, but they actually do. The truth is that hard bristled brushes can actually damage your tooth enamel as well as cause gum recession. (1) Enamel abrasion is irreversible and gum recession is often only treated through surgical measures.
If it’s in your budget, purchase a higher-quality electric toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes can increase the efficiency of plaque removal, resulting in healthier gums and teeth. Many brushes allow the heads to be changed out so the brush body can be shared between family members. Lower-end electric toothbrush bristles may be too stiff, so choose carefully.
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