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24 July 2015
Oldest dentistry found in 14,000-year-old tooth

An international study led by Stefano Benazzi, a palaeo-anthropologist at the University of Bologna, reveals that infected tooth belonging to a man about 25 years of age who lived in northern Italy around 14,000 years ago was partially cleaned with flint tools - the oldest known dentistry.
     The well-preserved skeleton was found in 1988 in a rock shelter in the Veneto Dolomites, near Belluno, and is now kept at the University of Ferrara.
     According to Benazzi: "It predates any undisputed evidence of dental and cranial surgery, currently represented by dental drillings and cranial trephinations dating back to the Mesolithic-Neolithic period, about 9,000 to 7,000 years ago. The treatment went unnoticed for all these years."
     Benazzi and his colleagues show that forms of dental treatment were already adopted in the Late Upper Palaeolithic. At that time, toothpicks probably made of bone and wood were used to remove food particles between teeth. However, until now, no evidence had been found to associate Palaeolithic tooth-picking with tooth decay.

Edited from Discovery News (16 July 2015)

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