Thousands of years ago, the Egyptians of North Africa used gold wire to develop ligatures, which kept the teeth stable, and remains have been found of an Egyptian king with a copper tooth connected to his upper jaw. The evidence of this have been found in mummies, and was seemingly replicated thousands of years later by the Phoenicians who used similar ligatures to splint their teeth. At a similar time to the Phoenicians, the Etruscans were pulling damaged teeth and replacing them with oxen bones.
Although this was probably a cosmetic posthumous procedure, we thought we’d still include it. An iron false tooth over 2300 years old was found in a Celtic grave in France. Due to the procedure involved where the iron tooth was hammered (yes, hammered) into the jawbone, experts say that this was probably done for appearance reasons after death.
Bamboo, whittled down and carved into pegs, has been found among Chinese remains from 4000 years ago, where they were used as makeshift dental implants.
Around 2000 years ago, it was common to use teeth from animals, slaves, and poor people as replacement teeth, although they were highly susceptible to infection and would usually be rejected from the host. However, by the 7th century, humans had been utilising many different materials to develop implants - a particularly fascinating find was uncovered in Mayan ruins in Honduras. The human jaw contained three shells, carved into the likeness of teeth and implanted into the lower jaw. This find caught particular attention, as the bone surrounding the shell was showing signs of regeneration and acceptance of the new tooth! This bone fusion was a huge achievement, making this procedure incredibly successful for its time.
After a hit-and-miss era of various metals and alloys, a 1950’s surgeon discovered that bone regeneration could integrate titanium successfully, and in 1965 he implanted his first titanium dental implant into a live human volunteer.
Dental implants are now an incredibly safe, comfortable, and affordable procedure. With the cost and risk reduced, dentists today have very little need for iron teeth and hammers. If you want to know more about what to expect from dental implants today and whether they’re right for you, talk to our friendly team to organise an appointment or consultation.