Modern dental implants are comprised of titanium. The discovery that titanium is able to fuse with natural bone was made by accident in 1952. Since that time, dentists have continued to refine the materials and technique used to restore patients’ smiles. Although modern dental implants are an impressive innovation, implants have ancient roots. Throughout history, humans have used some strange materials to replace missing teeth.
In recent years, bamboo has been prized by homeowners as a sustainable, eco-friendly flooring material. That’s because bamboo can be harvested after just a few years of growth. The rapid growth rate of bamboo is perhaps one reason why the ancient Chinese decided it would make a good replacement for teeth. About 4,000 years ago, Chinese dentists carved the hard, durable bamboo into a tooth-shaped implant and then tapped it into the unfortunate patient’s jawbone.
Ancient Egyptians relied on oxen. When they slaughtered an ox, they used every part of the animal possible. The hides were used to make furniture and the bones were used to make dental implants for missing teeth. The Egyptians held the oxen bone implants in place with gold wire. It’s unknown if the implants were placed before death or after it. It’s conceivable that the implants were placed after death, since great care was taken to prepare the bodies of the deceased for the afterlife.
In the 1930s, archaeologists were excavating an ancient Mayan site in Honduras when they discovered part of a human mandible. The jawbone was dated to about 600 CE, and is believed to be from a woman who died in her twenties. The jawbone had three dental implants made from tooth-shaped pieces of shells. Decades later, a researcher took radiographs of the mandible. He discovered that, based on the bone formation around the shells, these implants had been placed while the woman was still alive.
University Associates in Dentistry is known as leading experts in dental implants in the Chicago area. Our dentists specialize in same-day dental implants, which lets you walk away with a complete, beautiful smile in just one appointment. If you have missing teeth, call us today at (312) 704-5511.