Two hundred sixty million years ago there were no dentists in Texas. This was especially unfortunate for a lipped lizard (Labidosaurus hamatus) suffering from a really bad toothache.
Unable to brush or floss its teeth, the dinosaur was in trouble. Scientists are studying the lipped lizard’s fossils. They’ve found not just tooth loss but a bad tooth infection. The infection spread into the poor dinosaur’s jaw. Scientists call it the oldest toothache found so far.
Lipped lizard wasn’t alone in needing a good dentist. One poor Gorgosaurus may have been the unluckiest dinosaur ever.
Living “only” 75 million years ago or so, Gorgosaurus looked like their bigger cousins, Tyrannosaurus Rex. They lived a rough-and-tumble life, killing other dinosaurs for food.
You can see a Gorgosaurus skeleton at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and in the Houston Museum of Natural Science. This particular Gorgosaurus had a brain tumor that made it clumsy. It had many broken bones, including both legs! It’s most painful problem was probably tooth decay. The infection in its mouth was so bad it lost some of its teeth. When you survive by catching food with your teeth, that’s bad news.
But you can’t keep a tough Gorgosaurus down. It kept hunting in spite of it all. It probably lived to a ripe old age for a Gorgosaurus, into its early 20s.
Dinosaur cavities are just like children cavities, only bigger. Luckily, you have a dentist. If you get a cavity, it can be fixed. Otherwise, you might end up with a smile so scary a dinosaur would run away!