All on 4 dental implants have generated huge waves in the dental world. This is thanks in no small part to the protocol’s unprecedented abilities to give patients new and non-removable teeth in as little as a single day, with a single surgery and at costs that undercut traditional implant techniques by tens of thousands of dollars.
The field of implantology itself has been around for several decades – since the 1950s – but the “All on 4” was only developed in 1993. This is an incredibly tiny slice of time if you consider the many thousand year history of our species on this planet. So, what did we do before the availability of dental implants? How did we look after our teeth? What technologies were available?
I think it’s time we cast a historical light on dental health care and technology to really appreciate just how far we’ve come. So, this month and next, I shall be taking a brief look at some very interesting and, in some cases, appalling historical facts on dentistry!
Ancient Dental Implants
The Mayans were one of the first civilizations to make use of dental implants. The skeleton of a Mayan woman dating back to 600AD was found in an archaeological dig in Honduras. Embedded in her jaw bone, archaeologists discovered a few crude replacement teeth that had been fashioned out of sea shell. These early implants appeared to be deliberately inserted into the sockets of three missing teeth. Since these were hardly functional, it just goes to show that, as a species, our appearance has always been important to us.
Other civilizations, such as the ancient Egyptians, made use of precious metals, gemstones, ivory and even the teeth of the deceased to replace missing teeth. The ancient Romans would have replacement teeth fashioned from iron.
Understanding the Cause of a Tooth Ache and Decay
In times BC, the person to visit if you had a toothache would be a priest, who would be qualified in the exorcism of the particular breed of demons that caused dental pain and decay. In these early days, there was absolutely no link made between oral hygiene and oral health. In fact, there was no oral hygiene. Period!
Another interesting – and prevalent – theory explaining the cause of tooth pain, which lasted for centuries amongst many civilizations, was ‘tooth worm.’ This parasite would somehow burrow into your tooth and cause it to ache as it decayed. I wonder if they ever managed to catch one of these mythical worms.
The earliest ‘toothbrushes’ were first described by the Romans and consisted of no more than a stick that you would chew on. While these ‘chew sticks’ were incredibly rudimentary as far as oral hygiene care is concerned, they were somewhat effective at removing plaque. In fact, if you ever get stranded in the Great Outdoors without a toothbrush, you too can make use of a chew stick. Just make sure your choice in foliage isn’t poisonous!
In Next Month’s Blog…
I’ll take a look at a few more fun and interesting historical dental facts.