While dental implants may seem like a modern innovation, the truth is that this approach to tooth replacement has actually been around for millennia. Explore the ancient history of modern dental implants here.
2000 BC: Ancient China
In addition to being a technologically advanced society, recently uncovered artifacts suggest that this culture was the first to recognize the importance of a complete smile. Rather than leaving gaps in their smile, it appears that the Ancient Chinese civilizations used carved bamboo pegs to replace missing teeth.
1000 BC – Ancient Egypt
While Ancient Egyptians are well known for their mummification process, they were also among the first groups of people to adopt prosthetic teeth. In addition to writings that describe dental treatments for toothaches, archaeologists have also uncovered skeletons with “dental implants” made of copper and other precious metals. These new teeth were often stabilized with a thin gold wire.
500 BC – Ancient Rome
Although the civilization was several centuries away from dominating Western Europe and the Mediterranean, the ancestors of the Roman Empire were well ahead of their time. Around 500 BC, the ancient Etruscans began carving replacement teeth from ox bones and placing these in their smiles. Across the Mediterranean, ancient Phoenicians built on the ideas of the Ancient Egyptians, using gold wire to secure teeth ravaged by gum disease.
As the Roman Empire began to take form and engulf the majority of Western Europe, its influence began to spread to these new territories. In recent years, teams of archaeologists have found dental implant-like instruments throughout France. Known as Gaul during ancient times, these results suggest that the practice of replacing lost teeth with an iron pin or other prosthetic spread through trading routes built by Rome.
600 AD – Mayan Civilization
Across the Atlantic, the Mayan civilization also developed a solution for replacing missing teeth. Much like the ancient Chinese approach to tooth replacement, the Mayan version of dental implants used carved jade and seashells placed directly into the jawbone. There early implants present researchers with the first signs of osseointegration and also suggest that these ancient peoples were well aware of the importance fusing a prosthetic to the jaw could have.
How Ancient History Leads to Modern Smiles
In the centuries since the first dental implants, modern dentistry has evolved significantly, ultimately leading to the prosthetic teeth you receive when getting dental implants. To learn more about the history of dental implants and to discover if this solution is right for your smile, be sure to call Tarpon Spring dentist Dr. Kontos and schedule your consultation today!
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Tarpon Springs, FL
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