(ORDO NEWS) — A new study of a substance used to fix gemstones to Mayan teeth has revealed several potential hygienic and therapeutic properties.
Not only was the sealant incredibly adhesive (holding the stone in place for over a thousand years), its ingredients have the potential to fight cavities and reduce inflammation and infection in the mouth.
The rich mixture of organic components led archaeologists to believe that the cement was not just used as a water-repellent adhesive.
The attachment of small stones to incisors and canines in early adulthood may have been accompanied by some protection against caries.
The drilling of the tooth to insert these gems was done so skillfully that it rarely affected the pulp of the nerves and blood vessels in the center of the tooth.
In sealants used to attach gemstones to teeth, researchers have identified 150 organic molecules that are commonly found in plant resins.
Depending on where the tooth came from in the Yucatán Peninsula, each sealant mix had a slightly different list of ingredients, but the basic ingredients were basically the same.
Most dental cements have pine resin-related compounds thought to have antibacterial properties. Two of the eight teeth contained remnants of sclareolide, a plant compound with antibacterial and antifungal properties. It is also often used in the perfume industry as it smells quite nice.
Essential oils from plants in the mint family have also been common in sealants, suggesting an anti-inflammatory effect.
Mayan dentistry was clearly an art form, but new findings show it was more than just beauty. It also turned out that many people received treatment regardless of social status.
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