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Fun Facts for Kids – The ‘Tooth’ About Ancient Dentistry

September 2nd, 2014

Did you know that dentistry is thousands of years old? Even ancient Egypt had dentists! And they certainly needed them – ancient Egyptians ate a lot of coarse grains and honey-sweetened foods that weakened their teeth and caused tooth decay. One mummy was found to have died because of all the problems with his teeth! (If that’s not a reason to make annual trips to the dentist we don’t know what is).

So how did ancient dentists treat their patients? Here are some of the solutions that people came up with:

Ancient Toothpaste:

In prehistoric times hunter-gatherers ate the purple nutsedge plant. It was a great nutritious food for nomadic people and was even used in ancient Egypt to make perfume. It also had the fortunate benefit of preventing tooth decay! Sadly, the purple nutsedge is classified as a weed now.

Roman Teething Charm:

L0057125 Teething charm, Roman, 100-500 CE

Photo from wellcomeimages.org

Ancient Dentures:

Archeologists recently discovered the grave of an ancient Celtic woman who had a tooth implant. The archeologists found an iron pin that would have been inserted into the gum of the woman to hold the replacement tooth in place. Ouch! Talk about grin and bear it. They don’t know what the fake tooth would have been made of, but fake teeth made of bone and shell have been found in other burial sites.

Roman votive offering of clay baked teeth:

L0035826 A clay-baked teeth. Roman votive offering

 

Photo from wellcomeimages.org

Mesoamerican Bling:

The Celts weren’t the only ones who tried to improve their smiles. Ancient Mesoamerican men often added a little flash with gem-studded teeth. The dentists, working about 2,500 years ago (!), would have used obsidian drills to get through the top layer of the tooth. They used a glue that included natural resins and crushed bone to attach precious stones like jade to give these guys their bright smiles.
Etruscan Dentures:

L0058137 Copy of an Etruscan denture, Europe, 1901-1930

Photo from wellcomeimages.org

Close up of a Chinese medical signboard advertising a dentist using actual teeth:

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Photo from wellcomeimages.org

If you liked these facts be sure to check out our Chew On This wall décor. You can get these facts and more or a custom message to decorate your office walls!

 

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