Some dentists today cater to fashionistas by inlaying real diamonds on the surface of front teeth. The ancient Mexicans were inlaying turquoise and other semi-precious stones 1,000's of years ago. Today 1,000's of American and Canadian dental tourists visit Mexican cosmetic dentists annually for dental makeovers, crowns, veneers and other treatment they might not be able to afford back home.
Archaeologists recently reported finding a 4,900-year-old burial site in Mexico that had one of the oldest known examples of dental work in the Americas.
The upper front teeth of the remains had been ground down so they could be mounted with animal teeth, possibly wolf or panther teeth, for ceremonial purposes, according to researchers led by Tricia Gabany-Guerrero of the University of Connecticut.
“It’s like he was using the mouth of some other animal in his mouth,” explained James Chatters, an archaeologist and paleontologist with AMEC Earth and Environmental Inc. in Seattle, Wash., and a member of the research team.
Such modifications, typically using beasts of prey, became more common centuries later in the Maya culture, Chatters said in a telephone interview, but this is the earliest example that has been found.