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400-year-old false teeth found in Italy

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London: Archaeologists have discovered a unique 400-year-old dental prosthesis at an Italian burial site which predates the modern tooth bridges. The prosthesis found by researchers excavating a monastery in the Tuscan town of Lucca was made up of other people’s teeth linked by a golden band, says PTI.

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It consists of five teeth – three central incisors and two lateral canines aligned in an incorrect anatomical sequence. To build the prosthesis, the root apex of each tooth was removed and a longitudinal cut was made along the roots.


“The teeth were then aligned and a subtle golden lamina was inserted into the fissure,” said Simona Minozzi and Valentina Giuffra from Pisa University in Italy. “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,” the researchers said.

The prosthesis was anchored to the individual’s teeth through two S-shaped ends featuring two small holes. Strings were probably used to hold it in place. The researchers using a scanning electron microscope found that the golden lamina is a metal alloy made of 73 per cent of gold, 15.6 per cent of silver and 11.4 per cent of copper.

Appliances to hold loose teeth in place had been described by the innovative French surgeon Ambroise Pare (1510-1590) who served as royal surgeon for a number of French kings, and by Pierre Fauchard (1678-1761), who was widely considered the father of modern dentistry, ‘seeker.com’ reported.

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However, until now no direct evidence of such devices had been found. “This is the first archaeological evidence of a dental prosthesis using gold band technology for the replacement of missing teeth,” Minozzi told Discovery News. The study was published in the journal Clinical Implant Dentistry and Related Research.