Scientists have discovered evidence of the world's earliest known dental operation in the 14,000-year-old skeleton of a Stone Age caveman suffering from toothache.
The study was carried out by scientists from the Italian universities of Bologna and Ferrara, who analysed a dental cavity found on a 14,000-year-old skeleton at Riparo Villabruna, in the Venetian Dolomites, in 1988.
Until now, the oldest existing evidence of paleodentistry dated such operations between nine and seven thousand years ago, 'The Local' reported.
Paleodentistry concerns the low-tech interventions that our ancestors performed on themselves thousands of years ago to maintain dental hygiene.
The hole on the man's third inferior molar showed that the tooth was cleaned out using a flint microlith - a small, sharp stone tool, according to 'Il Resto del Carlino' newspaper.
The microlith was used to pick away infected tissue from inside the tooth, which is an exciting discovery, said co-ordinator of the research, Stefano Benazzi, from the Univerity of Bologna.
"The discovery shows that the man from the end of the Palaeolithic [denoting the early phase of the Stone Age] period was aware of the damaging nature of an infected cavity and of the need to intervene with microlithic tools to remove the infection," he said. — PTI