Apparently, Teeth Bling is Hardly New
Wondefully complex dentistry techniques allowed Native Americans to add bling to their teeth as far back as 2,500 years ago, a new study says.
National Geographic writes:
Ancient peoples of southern North America went to “dentists”—among the earliest known—to beautify their chompers with notches, grooves, and semiprecious gems, according to a recent analysis of thousands of teeth examined from collections in Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (such as the skull above, found in Chiapas, Mexico).
Scientists don’t know the origin of most of the teeth in the collections, which belonged to people living throughout the region, called Mesoamerica, before the Spanish conquests of the 1500s.
The impressive dentistry does not seem to be a sign of wealth or social status, as the bodies of royals found do not exhibit the work. Other evidence of early Mesoamerican dentistry—including a person who had received a ceremonial denture—has also been found.
It seems that the early dentists used a device similar to a drill attached to a hard stone capable of puncturing bone (some form of herbal anesthesia may have been used).
The ornamental stones—including jade—were attached with an adhesive made out of natural resins, such as plant sap, which was mixed with other chemicals and crushed bones, Jiménez said.
The dentists likely had a sophisticated knowledge of tooth anatomy, Jiménez added. For example, they knew how to drill into teeth without hitting the pulp inside, he said.
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