A combination of modern physics tools reveals the oldest dental filling, dating back to the Stone Age

In the present study, several research groups with different expertize have adopted a multi-disciplinary approach providing the earliest direct evidence of a therapeutic dental filling.
   F. Bernardini (“Beeswax as Dental Filling on a Neolithic Human Tooth", PLoS ONE 7, e44904 (2012)"

The discovery is based on the finding of extraneous material on the occlusal surface of a canine from a Neolithic human mandible. The jawbone fragment, bearing a canine, two premolars, and the first two molars, was found in 1911 near the village of Lonche in northern Istria (Slovenia) and, from that time, kept in the Natural History Museum of Trieste (Italy).The data for the study were obtained using conventional and synchrotron radiation computed X-ray microtomography (micro-CT), radiocarbon dating with accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS), infrared (IR) spectroscopy and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). These advanced analytical techniques provided crucial information on morphology and age of the mandible, age and composition of the dental filling and tooth microstructure. The experiment was conducted in several steps.

Conventional X-ray micro-CT (performed at the Tomolab station of Elettra) provided a high-resolution 3D reconstruction of the mandible (Figure 1). In particular, we could observe that the canine revealed a long vertical crack, and an area of enamel that had worn away to create a large cavity, which exposed the dentine (Figure 2-a). To increase the spatial resolution and obtain more detailed images, the tooth crown was then investigated using synchrotron X-ray micro-CT at the SYRMEP beamline of Elettra (Figures 2-b, 2-c). Thanks to the high spatial coherence properties of synchrotron radiation, we could use phase-contrast imaging to visualize an unusual light material forming a thin cap that perfectly filled the cavity and the upper part of the canine crack.

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Federico Bernardini, ClaudioTuniz, Alfredo Coppa, Lucia Mancini, Diego Dreossi, Diane Eichert, Gianluca Turco, Matteo Biasotto, Filippo Terrasi, Nicola De Cesare, Quan Hua, Vladimir Levchenko, “Beeswax as Dental Filling on a Neolithic Human Tooth", PLoS ONE 7, e44904 (2012); doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0044904.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 September 2013 09:52