22 Nov 400-year-old dentures made from human teeth unearthed by archaeologists
Archaeologists have discovered an ancient set of dentures while excavating a site in Tuscany.
The prosthetic teeth, found at the monastery of S. Francesco at Lucca, include three central incisors and two lateral canines, repurposed from their original owners and strung together with a golden band.
“This is the first archaeological evidence of a dental prosthesis using gold band technology for the replacement of missing teeth,” Simona Minozzi, a paleopathologist at Pisa University, told Discovery News.
Researchers writing in the journal Clinical Implant Dentistry and Related Research described how the roots of the teeth were partially removed before cuts were made along the base of each.
“The teeth were then aligned and a subtle golden lamina was inserted into the fissure,” they wrote.
“Micro-CT scan revealed the presence of two small golden pins inserted into each tooth crossing the root and fixing the teeth to the internal gold band.”
It’s thought that the dentures were attached to the wearer’s teeth using strings, inserted through holes in each end.
“Although there are descriptions of similar objects in texts from the period, there is no known archaeological evidence,” researchers said. “The dentures found in the tomb are the first example of dentures from this historical period, and as such are a valuable addition to the history of dentistry.”
The teeth were found among the remains of about 100 people.
“We couldn’t find the corresponding jaw, so we do not know who the appliance belonged to,” Minozzi said, adding: “Abundant calculus deposit on the teeth and the metal indicate it had been worn for a long period.”