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Oldest dental filling is found in a Stone Age tooth

Oldest dental filling is found in a Stone Age tooth

New Scientist

Image: Bernardini et al./PLoS One

You may not want to try this at home. A simple wax cap that was applied to a broken tooth 6500 years ago is the oldest dental filling on record. It adds to evidence that Neolithic communities had a surprisingly sophisticated knowledge of dentistry.

The recipient of the treatment was most likely a 24 to 30-year-old man, living in what is now Slovenia. His fossilised jawbone was found early last century near the village of Lonche. At the time, the find – one of the oldest human bones ever found in the region – was described, catalogued and filed away in a museum in nearby Trieste, Italy.

“The jawbone remained in the museum for 101 years without anybody noticing anything strange,” says Claudio Tuniz at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste. That was until Tuniz and his colleague Federico Bernardini happened to use the specimen to test new X-ray imaging equipment, and spotted some unusual material attached to a canine.

They constructed a high-resolution 3D picture of the tooth, which revealed a long vertical crack, and an area of enamel that had worn away to create a large cavity in which the dentine was exposed. The unusual material formed a thin cap that perfectly filled the cavity and the upper part of the crack. Read more on newscientist.com…