By Alison Majikes/Special to

Twice-yearly dental checkups aren’t appointments that excite many, especially because of  the sights, sounds and shiny sharp instruments.

But imagine visiting a friendly neighborhood dentist 14,000 years ago when, during the Paleolithic era, when the most advanced tool he or she had was likely a sharp rock.

A human tooth specimen discovered from this era was found to be treated for a cavity.

And if the word “Paleolithic” sounds familiar to you, it probably is. You’ve most likely have heard of the “Paleo Diet,” also known as the caveman diet, whose followers (myself included) have been increasing in droves during the past several years. Though you might enjoy snacking on lean proteins, fruits and vegetables and nuts, seeds and healthy fats, be thankful you don’t have to follow in the footsteps of the hunter-gatherers in all aspects of their former lives. Dental visits might be a little more painful!

The journal “Scientific Reports” published the story earlier this month and according to an article on, archaeologists found the prehistoric pearly white (or off-white) at a dig site in Northern Italy in 1988. Tests on the tooth show that it hails from the Late Upper Paleolithic era, circa 13,820 to 14,160 years ago.

Stefano Benazzi, a paleoanthropologist from the University of Bologna, who co-authored the story told Discovery News that no one realized how much of a big deal the tooth was until 25 years later.

Researchers discovered a cavity in the tooth that contained “extensive enamel chipping” made before the death of the specimen at approximately 25 years.

The chips and the cavity suggest that people living during the Paleolithic era had “at least some knowledge of disease treatment,” according to the study’s abstract.

But this poor soul wasn’t alone.

There have been several other discoveries that prove humans in past eras tried to fix each other’s teeth. According to a study published in the journal PLoS ONE in 2012, researchers discovered that in the Neolithic era, ancient humans used beeswax as a filling material on a cracked canine tooth from a human jaw found in a cave in Slovenia more than a century ago, according to LiveScience. Yikes.

Next time you family dentist visit arrives, count your lucky stars they’re not cracking open your tooth with a rock and filling it with beeswax!

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