Recent research has helped to uncover further details about a 400-year-old secret relating to the oral health of a 17th Century French aristocrat.
In an extraordinary finding, archaeologists found a body that had teeth remarkably preserved – despite being over 400 years old. So what was this person’s secret?
The secret – which has finally been uncovered thanks to recent research – was that the aristocrat was using gold wire to keep her teeth from falling out. This is something we can learn a lot from.
Discovery of Anne d’Alegre
In 1988, the body of Anne d’Alegre was discovered by archaeologists who were undertaking an excavation in northwestern France . d’Alegre passed away in 1619.
But in a remarkable finding, the archaeologists found that upon examining the body, her skeleton and teeth were very well preserved . This was despite her being dead for almost 400 years.
This was an incredibly strange discovery, as after hundreds of years, the human body naturally decays to the point where even teeth become a distant memory.
The archaeologists questioned how this had happened. They noticed that the body had a dental prosthetic, but owing to technological limitations, they did not have the scanning tools required to find out more.
But 35 years later, a research team made up of dental professionals and archaeologists have examined d’Alegre in more detail, and have been able to make conclusions on this case.
Their research was published in The Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports . One finding was that d’Alegre suffered from Periodontal Disease, resulting in her teeth becoming loose .
The researchers conducted a “Cone Beam” scan, which involved X-rays being used to build three-dimensional images . Their analysis showed that gold wire had been used to hold together and tighten many of her teeth . She would have done this in an effort to improve the aesthetic appearance of her teeth.
Moreover, they also found that she had an artificial tooth, which had been made of ivory from an elephant . These were interesting findings, and provided the researchers with plenty of information.
Did it work for d’Alegre?
Interestingly, despite its long-term effects, at the time, it wouldn’t have been useful, according to the researchers. One of the team – Rozenn Colletter – said that this dental work would have only “made the situation worse” .
This is because the gold wires that d’Alegre had used would have needed tightening done on a regular basis, which would have the effect of destabilizing the neighboring teeth .
The researchers suggested that d’Alegre would have likely lived in pain for several years. One author mentioned that her teeth “shows that she went through a lot of stress” .
But due to the importance of her appearance as an aristocrat, this was necessary for her. Luckily in the modern day, we have treatment readily available to avoid such pain.
What can we learn from this?
There is a lot that we can learn from this research. Above all, it is a reminder of the importance of looking after our teeth. This can help us avoid gum disease, and befall the same pain that Anne d’Alegre went through.
Moreover, it is also a chance for us all to remember how fortunate we are to live at a time when dental procedures can produce the same results that d’Alegre, and so many others at the time, were desperate to achieve.
This research helps to explain the confusion surrounding d’Alegre. As one author says, there is the hope that the research “goes a little way towards rehabilitating” Anne d’Alegre .
1) While this is a very interesting finding, it is also very important as it underlines the importance of looking after our oral health. Gum disease is very common, and as Anne d’Alegre found, teeth can become loose if gum disease becomes advanced. Therefore, this article can remind us all to take care of our oral health. Remember to brush your teeth, floss regularly and attend dental check-ups at least twice a year.
2) In the above article, it is mentioned that Anne d’Alegre would have likely had oral pain throughout her life. This reminds us that oral health problems do not go away. Therefore, if you are having any problems at the moment that are causing pain or sensitivity, make sure you contact your dentist soon. Treatment can help to get your oral health back on track! We recommend booking an appointment now!
What we offer at Taradale Dental
Taradale Dental is a Calgary dental clinic that provide its patients with a wide range of dental services and treatments.
It is very important to have excellent oral hygiene. This involves brushing your teeth at least twice a day, flossing regularly and eating healthily. Therefore, this should help your oral health.
We advise our patients to attend our Calgary dental clinic at least twice per year for a regular dental check-up. At these check-ups, we provide our patients with advice, and look for any problems. If problems are found, we have many treatments available. For example, these include cavity fillings and root canals.
Here at Taradale Dental, we also have some cosmetic treatments available! These include dental implants, teeth whitening and Invisalign™! Many people find that these treatments have a positive impact on their appearance, confidence and self-esteem.
Moreover, all of our services at our Calgary dental clinic Taradale Dental are set in line with the Alberta Dental Fee Guide. This ensures transparent and fair pricing.
We hope to see you soon at our Taradale Dental clinic in Calgary! You can find out more about us by visiting our website https://taradaledental.ca.
 Collen, J. (2023). French aristocrat’s golden dental secret revealed 400 years on. Available: https://phys.org/news/2023-01-french-aristocrat-golden-dental-secret.html. Last accessed: 3rd February 2023.
 Colleter, R., Galibourg, A., Tréguier, J., Guiavarc’h, M., Mare, É., Riguad, P-J., Destruhaut, F., Telmon, N., & Maret, D. (2023). Dental Care of Anne d’Alègre (1565-1619, Laval, France). Between Therapeutic Reason and Aesthetic Evidence, the Place of the Social and the Medical in the Care in Modern Period. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.