Fishers Dentist Marvels at Oldest Known Toothache


It’s nice to know that humans are not the only living creatures plagued by toothaches. A team of researchers from the University of Toronto Mississauga were studying the fossil remains of a 275 million-year-old terrestrial reptile when they found evidence of bone damage due to an oral infection.


This Labidosaurus hamatus, the reptile’s scientific name, was missing several teeth and appeared to display signs of erosion of the jaw bone. Using computer tomography scanning, the team concluded a massive infection within the reptile’s mouth caused by several lost teeth, the presence of dental abscess in the jaw, and internal loss of bone tissue.


Living amphibians and reptiles today have developed the continual process of growing new teeth, enabling them to avoid infections like the one seen in the terrestrial reptile. The more primitive pattern of teeth, loosely attached and continually replaced, began to change for some animals. The Labidosaurus hamatus developed teeth that were strongly attached with little to no replacement, similar to the life of human teeth. It’s likely that although these biological changes to the teeth were beneficial to the terrestrial reptile, it exposed them to developing more serious oral infections.


Although we’ve never had a Labidosaurus hamatus as a patient at our Fishers dental office, we hope that our human patients understand the risks associated with not taking proper care of your permanent teeth. Make sure you visit us twice a year for bi-annual checkups and cleanings so that you don’t end up with a mess of oral infections like the Labidosaurus hamatus!