It seems like Neanderthals knew a bit about dentistry, as the latest research shows they used aspirin to get rid of a painful tooth! The team from the University of Adelaide were able to identify the active ingredient on a set of teeth found in a cave in Belgium. This led them to believe that Neanderthals took care of their smile and acted as a dentist.
There are three main points to the research:
The prehistoric teeth had a thick layer of plaque on, this protected the bacteria and food underneath from rotting.
Under this plaque they found poplar, which is naturally occurring and contains the same active ingredient as aspirin.
Similarly, they also found evidence that Neanderthals were eating an antibiotic mold that is similar to what we now call penicillium.
“The plaque showed that he also had an intestinal parasite that causes acute diarrhea, so clearly he was quite sick.”