Archaeologists unearthed what may be the first false tooth in all of history. “The dental implant comes from the burial chamber of an Iron Age woman that was excavated in Le Chene, France,” BBC News reports. “The woman, who was between 20 and 30 years old when she died, had an iron pin in place of one of her teeth.” Experts estimate that the skeleton’s teeth and the iron pin are approximately 2,800 years old.
Although the woman’s skeleton was poorly preserved, all 31 of her teeth were in (more or less) the right position. The iron pin was neatly located where a 32nd tooth should have been.
Modern dental implants are much different. Instead of iron, dentists use strong, titanium alloys to create implants that look and feel like real teeth. “The implants are made of titanium and are attached by a titanium screw that over time fuses with the jaw bone in a process called osseointegration, becoming fully integrated into the mouth,”Philadelphia Magazine explains. Moreover, today’s dental implants have a 98% success rate — and may last 20 years or more, depending on regular care and maintenance. By comparison, bridges — another option for patients with missing teeth — last only five years.