Scientists have found what is apparently the earliest known dental implant: a wrought-iron tooth in a man who lived about 1,900 years ago in what is now France.
X-rays showed a perfect fit in the tooth socket in the upper right jaw. The false tooth was apparently jammed into place more than a year before the man died, researchers said.
The discovery, in a Gallo-Roman cemetery south of Paris, is reported by French researchers in today’s issue of the journal Nature. At the time of the dental work, France was ruled by the Romans and called Gaul.
Ancient Etruscans in northern Italy were known to have made partial dentures, crowns and simple bridges as early as 2,500 years ago, but experts said the French finding appears to be the oldest known dental implant.
The French researchers said whoever made the iron implant used his patient’s original tooth as a model.