How old is tooth replacement therapy?

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The history of tooth replacement goes back at least several centuries and possibly before historical written records. One Spanish Arab surgeon who lived more than 1,000 years ago documented the use of ox bone to make an artificial tooth, and French dentist Pierre Fauchard, who died in 1761, is said to have fashioned dentures and crowns using ivory or even teeth from other people.

Man has been searching for ways to replace missing teeth for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians used tooth shaped shells and ivory to replace teeth. The Etruscans, living in what is now modern Italy, replaced missing teeth with artificial teeth carved from the bones of oxen. Further evidence of tooth replacement was found in 1931 while Dr. and Mrs. Wilson Popenoe, an archeological team, were excavating in Honduras. A mandible of Mayan origin was discovered that had tooth shaped pieces of shells placed in the sockets of three missing lower incisor teeth.

 Modern implant dentistry began in the early 19th century. Much experimentation was being done about what material would work best as the replacement tooth. Attempts were first made at implanting natural teeth from another person's mouth, but these implants suffered much infection and were rejected by the host. Implants made of gold, porcelain, silver and even lead were being tried, with only a fair measure of success and little or no predictability.

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