Different cultures have different influences and ideas of beauty. Pre-Hispanic cultures placed lots of importance on their looks specially their teeth and they delved on primitive dental implants, cosmetic dentistry and more. Even Hernan Cortez reported back to the King of Spain how Aztecs were obsessed with their oral health and had extensive dental works and remedies to treat sickness and bad breath. Let’s go over some of their most surprising practices:
Sea shells: Believe it or not there is definitive evidence of dental implants being used for at least cosmetic reasons. Researchers found a Mayan skull which had had a cut out sea shell implanted into the maxilla’s bone. It was likely hammered into the bone to restore a mostly complete smile. The researchers said this was done when the woman was still alive, as there are signs of healing on the «dental implant». While this is not common, it is important to point out that sea shells did have some level of biocompatibility with the bone because their high calcium content and structure. Still, it is certainly not an ideal durable material and we cringe to think how painful must have been to get it done without anesthesia. We can only hope these patients were previously given something to make them endure the pain. Ouch!
Dental carvings: Dental carvings are much more common on archaeological record than the sea shell implants (we guess pain has a lot to do with that). In any case, both Aztecs and Mayans carved their teeth with lines and even filed the edges of their teeth giving them different forms. There are some paintings and statues that depict Aztec gods with these types of carvings on their teeth, so is no surprise Aztecs wanted to emulate them.
Decorative jade: While Mayans and Aztecs lacked complex devices and machinery, they would find ways to purposely drill a hole on the front teeth and insert little pieces of jade into them. They used some kind of adhesive to make them stick to the teeth. So far we still do not know how the adhesive was done. The inserts were usually found on members of the upper classes and it is implied it was a sign of power or influence.
In modern times, people still like to put diamonds or fantasy jewelry on their teeth. In fact we have had several patients with diamonds or other decorations on their teeth and crowns. If you already have some of these types of decorations and wish to keep them on your new dentures or crowns, we will tell you if this is possible on your particular case and dental treatment. Our dentists in Cancun will be able to respond to your questions. If you wish more information about this service call our dental planners and they will explain all the little details to you con the following toll free number 1-800-565-1424.