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Ancient Maya practice of gluing gemstones onto teeth may have been for more than bling

Still Waters

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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

The ancient Maya once took enormous pride in their teeth. Long before Europeans were filling their cavities with gold, people in Mesoamerica were flashing grins bedazzled with jade, turquoise, gold, jet, or hematite gems.

Male or female, rich or poor, it appears many individuals visited the dentist as young adults to have their teeth drilled and filled with jewels, precious stones, or minerals.

The inlays would have lasted a lifetime and likely had spiritual meaning. But dental bling at this time may not have been purely aesthetic.

New research on the cement used to glue gems to Maya teeth has highlighted a few potential hygienic and therapeutic properties.


The study was published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports


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