FACT CHECK: Do These Pictures Show Ancient Egyptian Dentistry From 4,000 Years Ago?

Hannah Hudnall | Fact Check Reporter

Images shared on Facebook over 1,800 times allegedly show Egyptian human remains that feature dental work from 2000 B.C.

Verdict: Misleading

The image features a replica of Egyptian dentistry created by Dr. Vincenzo Guerini in the 1900s. The exhibit is not Egyptian in origin nor is it 4,000 years old.

Fact Check:

The post, which has garnered over 12,000 reactions, appears to show the remains of a lower jaw from an ancient Egyptian citizen featuring a gold wire connecting several teeth together. “Ancient Egyptian dental work from 2000 BC,” the image’s caption claims.

This claim, however, is misleading. The remains are a replica of ancient Egyptian dentistry, created by Guerini during the 1900s. The model is not 4,000 years old or Egyptian in origin. (RELATED: Image Claims To Show The Stump Of An Ancient 10-Mile Tall Tree)

“That particular bridge is a replica made by Dr. Vincenzo Guerini circa 1900. He made this replica/model after viewing actual examples in museums while on a tour of Egypt,” Dr. Scott Swank, curator of the University of Maryland’s National Museum of Dentistry, told Check Your Fact in an email regarding the replica.

Two of Guerini’s replica models reside in the museum, which can be seen in an article from Lead Stories regarding the actual origins of the teeth in question. One of the images in the Facebook post can be found in a 2015 Forbes article titled “Ten Boneheaded Interpretations Of Ancient Skeletons.”

“[Guerini] made a number of replicas from ancient techniques around the world, using more contemporary skull pieces,” Patrick Cutter, an assistant director at the museum, told Lead Stories. “Typical ways of replacing missing teeth back then involved using soft metal wires or bands (mainly gold), that wrapped around the replacement teeth and the adjoining teeth still left in the mouth.”

A 1909 book from Guerini titled “A History of Dentistry,” which can be found online, features a drawing of the device that appears exactly like the ones in the Facebook image. Guerini states that such an example of this work was discovered in an ancient tomb in the “necropolis of Saida” and noted that two of the teeth appeared to be from a different person as  “substitutes for lost teeth.”

The British Dental Journal published an article in 2009 titled “The Practice of Dentistry in Ancient Egypt” that depicts the dental work done at the time. Two of the images featured closely resemble Guerini’s depiction as shown in the Facebook post.

Check Your Fact previously debunked an image from December 2021 that allegedly showed an Egyptian mummy that was apparently discovered in North America.

Hannah Hudnall

Fact Check Reporter