Historic Maya Observe of Gluing Gemstones Onto Tooth May well Have Been For Much more Than Bling

The historical Maya when took massive delight in their enamel. Very long right before Europeans ended up filling their cavities with gold, persons in Mesoamerica had been flashing grins bedazzled with jade, turquoise, gold, jet, or hematite gems.


Male or feminine, loaded or very poor, it seems a lot of people today visited the dentist as young grown ups to have their enamel drilled and filled with jewels, valuable stones, or minerals.

The inlays would have lasted a life span and probably had religious that means. But dental bling at this time could not have been purely aesthetic.

New analysis on the cement used to glue gems to Maya teeth has highlighted a couple probable hygienic and therapeutic attributes.

Not only was the sealant incredibly adhesive (holding the gem in put for more than a thousand years), its elements have the opportunity to battle tooth decay, and cut down inflammation and infection in the mouth.

The wealthy blend of organic and natural elements has archaeologists imagining the cement-like compound was not simply made use of as a h2o-repelling glue.

As a substitute, the attachment of modest stones to incisors and canines for the duration of early adulthood might have been accompanied by some protection against cavities.

The drilling to insert these gems into the tooth was done so expertly, it almost never impacted the pulp of nerves and blood vessels at the center.

Historical Maya teeth analyzed in the research. (Hernández-Bolio et al., Journal of Archaeological Science, 2022)

The ancient enamel analyzed in the review came from 3 Maya archaeological web-sites in Guatemala, Belize and Honduras, and the men and women the tooth belonged to did not seem to be from elite backgrounds.

In the sealants made use of to connect gems to the enamel, scientists determined 150 natural and organic molecules that are normally observed in plant resins. Relying on where by the tooth came from on the Yucatan peninsula, each individual sealant blend experienced a a bit distinctive ingredient list, but the primary components have been largely the same.


Most dental cements showed compounds involved with pine tree tar, assumed to contain antibacterial-like houses. Two of the 8 enamel held remnants of sclareolide, a plant compound with antibacterial and antifungal homes. It truly is also frequently utilised in the fragrance business, as it smells really great.

Vital oils from vegetation in the mint loved ones were being also frequent in the sealants, suggesting possible anti-inflammatory results.

The conclusions are not entirely unpredicted. There are several lines of evidence that propose dental cleanliness was taken severely by the historic Maya. People today in this civilization consistently polished their teeth, and if decay set in, enamel appear to have been extracted.

These a lot more therapeutic procedures to dentistry, nevertheless, have been traditionally overshadowed by the flashier decorations of the time. The edges of Maya teeth are often filed into pointy shapes, and then inlaid with gems. In the past, this has been pinned to ritual or aesthetic causes only.

Maya dentistry was obviously an art variety, but the new findings advise the comprehensive use of tooth modifications may have been about more than just splendor.


The fact that loads of people today were acquiring the treatment done also suggests it is not essentially a reflection of the person’s social status.

“Though the blends had been each intricate and powerful in offering very long-long lasting dental obturations, the mortuary contexts of the men and women sampled show these have been not elite people but that rather, a broad swathe of Maya society benefited from the knowledge of the men and women who produced these cements,” the authors publish

The analyze was released in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Studies