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Paper looks at the first ever dentist

Examining surviving skeletal and mummified remains from ancient Egypt can provide evidence for the dental health of the ancient Egyptian civilisation, according to a paper in this issue of the BDJ. The first of a two part paper, Dental health and disease in ancient Egypt (BDJ 2009; 206: 421–424) suggests that the same dental diseases have been present with man over the millennia, but the incidence of these diseases varies considerably with changing environmental factors.

An exquisitely carved wooden panel depicting Hesyre, believed to be the earliest recorded dentist in Egypt and in the world. Six carved wooden panels were found in his tomb at Saqqara near modern day Cairo

The second paper, The practice of dentistry in ancient Egypt, provides an insight into the origins of the dental profession and the world's first recorded dentist, Hesyre. The paper, which will be published in the next issue of the Journal, also looks at dental remedies and treatments of the ancient Egyptian civilisation that suggest that the sources of some modern therapies lie in the distant past.

Author Dr Roger Forshaw, Honorary Research Associate at the KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology, University of Manchester, said, 'I embarked on this study trying to analyse the subject from both a dental and an archaeological perspective. My forthcoming papers on dental health, disease and dentistry in ancient Egypt are the results of my studies into the various sources of information on this topic and in addition present a review of previous investigations by both Egyptologists and dental surgeons. This information is also supported by my own research into the skeletal remains from this ancient civilisation.'

He added that one of the aims of the articles is to attempt to present an insight into the origins of the dental profession and to provide details of the world's first recorded dentist, who lived in ancient Egypt some 4,600 years ago. Dr Forshaw's future research in this area will explore the effectiveness of the various ancient pharmaceutical treatments for the relief of dental conditions.

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Paper looks at the first ever dentist. Br Dent J 206, 401 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.bdj.2009.332

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