Ancient dentistry: An interesting but painful story
In our modern world we have so many tools, regimens, and treatments to help improve and maintain oral health. And as you know, MOLAR and its members would like to see all people enjoy the benefits of these resources to help them achieve better oral and overall health.
However, your board of directors thought it might be interesting to take a look back at a time when we tend to think of oral health care as mainly the use of a stick to pick teeth “clean.” So let’s think about our prehistoric hunter-gatherer ancestors, who lived more than 10,000 years ago. We might logically assume because they lacked our resources that they had far worse tooth decay than people do today. Not so. While we might have whiter and straighter teeth, they had far fewer cavities than modern people.
Why would this be? Since the 1970s, archaeologists have theorized that the diet of hunter-gatherers—meat, vegetables, nuts, and seeds—would have made a difference. According to Alejandra Ortiz, formerly a New York University doctoral candidate and now a postdoctoral research associate in the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University, “The frequency of caries among hunter-gatherers is roughly 1-5% and around 6-8% among populations with mixed subsistence strategies. This contrasts with agriculturalists, who show frequencies between 10% and up to 80-85%.”
Once farming began on a broad scale and carbohydrate-rich foods such as grains were cultivated, oral bacteria that thrive on carbs began to proliferate. In fact, according to Alan Cooper, the director of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA, the more friendly type of bacteria that helped our pre-agricultural ancestors maintain good oral health have now been overrun by the disease-carrying kind of carb-loving bacteria.
However some researchers today believe it was not only the carb-rich diet, but the fact that farming brought more food and a more stable supply of food. This, in turn, led to increased fertility rates—and a subsequent decline in the oral health of pregnant women. Research continues on this topic and will evolve as more specimens are studied using the latest technologies.
Regardless of the causes of dental decay, there is a growing body of archaeological evidence that shows our prehistoric ancestors sought relief from decaying teeth in some ingenious—but painful —ways. Think dentistry is a modern invention? Think again. The earliest known example of dentistry can be seen in a molar dating some 14,000 years ago. Stefano Benazzi, Ph.D., and his colleagues at the University of Bologna recently examined the tooth within its jaw and found evidence of scraping, most likely with a microlith tool made of flint.
Over the next few thousand years, the practice of drilling teeth began. Examples of drilling can be found in such diverse locations as Pakistan, Peru and what is today Slovenia. Researchers are divided on the means of drilling, with some clearly favoring the idea of the use of a simple bow drill made of two sticks, a cord and a sharp stone.
In some cases there is also evidence of caps and fillings. For example, a 6,500-year-old jaw was found with a cracked tooth covered with a cap of bee’s wax. In another example, two 13,000-year-old teeth were examined with scanning electron microscopy, microCT scans and residue analyses. It was determined that they were drilled using sharp rocks and the holes were then filled with bitumen, vegetable matter and hair. The results were not pretty, but appear to have been quite effective.
While ingenious, these ancient tools were not without their drawbacks. Their use undoubtedly caused extreme pain in the patient. Only the lucky Peruvians had access to plants with numbing properties such as coca leaves. If you would like to learn more about ancient oral health and dentistry, consult these resources, which were used in writing this article:
- Nathaniel Scharping, “13,000-Year-Old Fillings Prove Ancient Dentistry Was Brutal,” Discover D-Brief, April 10, 2017
- Colin Barras, “How Our Ancestors Drilled Rotten Teeth,” BBC Earth, February 29, 2016
- Rose Eveleth, “Prehistoric Humans Had Better Teeth Than We Do,” Smithsonian.com, SMARTNEWS, February 25, 2013
July 13, 2018
- 9:00 am - Noon: MOLAR EDUCATION MEETING
Be SMART: Improve Your Practice with Silver Diamine Fluoride and Glass Ionomer Cement
Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF) is a revolutionary approach to combating caries in a non-invasive manner. Since 2014 FDA clearance in the United States and a widely publicized 2016 feature in the New York Times, there has been tremendous interest in surrounding the use of SDF from patients and dentists. Learn the principles of case selection, informed consent, treatment planning, and clinical protocol for SDF. Learn how to restore cavities in a quick, effective and painless way using Glass Ionomer Cement and SDF, known as Silver Modified Atraumatic Restorative Treatment (SMART). Find out how offering minimally-invasive options like SDF and SMART can attract new patients, improve patient satisfaction, and increase internal marketing and word of mouth referrals to your practice.
- Describe the evidence for using SDF and SMART to treat and prevent dental caries
- Review informed consent and treatment planning for SDF and SMART
- Demonstrate proper documentation, coding, and billing for SDF and SMART
- Describe case selection, materials, and clinical protocol for SDF and SMART
CLICK HERE for the speaker's bio, more details and to register on our new website
ORAL HEALTH AMERICA FREE WEBINAR SERIES
June 15, 2018, 11:00 AM CST - Registration link here
Evaluation and Clinical Quality Assessment in Oral Health Programs: An Overview
Presenter: Pierre M. Cartier, DMD, MPH
July 20, 2019, 11 AM CST - Registration link here
Implementing a Clinical Quality Evaluation System in Your Oral Health Program
Presenter: Pierre M. Cartier, DMD, MPH
MOLAR Oral Health Coalition 2018 meeting Dates
September 14, 2018, November 9, 2018
Affiliated Practice Tool Kit
September 28-29, 2018
Respect a Hygienist
Recently an article by Lisa Mewburger appeared in the online magazine Dental Practice Management titled “7 Reasons to Respect a Hygienist”. The article was written to dentists to remind them of the value hygienists bring to their practice. Here are the 7 reasons Lisa shared:
- Hygienists are highly educated
- Hygienists truly care- they are passionate and strive to do what’s best for the patient
- Hygienists are trusted like family- have built relationships with their patients
- Hygienists are exceptional patient educators
- Hygienists are the ultimate team players
- Hygienists defer to other disciplines
- Hygienists deliver-they deliver quality care following clinical protocols
Creating a Resume that Stands Out
With new grads on the job scene and seasoned professionals looking for more fulfilling positions.
Here are some tips on resume writing that might help you land the position of your dreams:
- In the introduction state in bullet points what makes you different from colleagues: (ie created and presented educational material to local youth group)
- Highlight special skill that would appeal to practice where they are applying pedo ( years of experience in pediatrics) seniors ( successfully treated patients with disabilities and health challenges)
- Demonstrate professionalism and leadership (trained new personnel)
- Gained trust of patients (quickly established my own patient base in a busy practice with multiple hygienists)
- List fluency in another language
- Understand technology- intra oral cameras, perioscope or automated probes, certification in lasers
- Unique experiences: teledentistry, hospital rotation, oral health volunteerism
Good Luck with your search for the “perfect” position!
A reminder of this month’s Spirit of Community donation items for July:
Water for Andre House or Food for the food bank.
Spirit of Community Reminder:
September: Books to promote literacy- underserved kids
November: Stuffed animals/ non-perishable food items Food pantries and police/fire department for traumatized children
All above recipients also get 30 oral hygiene kits