In the modern era, we have many celebrities who have explored different ways to make their teeth shine. From grills to implants, singers like Nelly and Kanye West have made it a popular idea to bling up our teeth. However, these superstars aren’t the first to bring this light.
A New Discovery
So who were first to have shiny cool teeth? The answer lies in a grave in France that is marked back to the 3rd Century B.C. That’s over 2400 years ago! Archaeologists have discovered a skeleton of an ancient Celt who most likely was trying for a flashy smile.
The implant itself, after being thoroughly studied, had a strange, but simple structure. It consisted of an iron pin that was punctured into the gum in order to hold a decorative crown. The likes of this implant were found in the oral cavity of a skeleton buried in La Chêne, France. Little is known what the false tooth actually consisted of. However, the archaeologists do know it was in place of one of the central maxillary incisors, a front tooth. From these they infer that the implant was likely not put in for tooth restoration reasons, but rather to make their smile more aesthetic.
A Celtic Mystery
Many question why this skeleton has a dental implant in the first place. Since it was identified as a front tooth, it most likely could’ve been knocked out by either falling or being punched in the face. It’s still undetermined whether the implant was placed before or after death. If it was before, it definitely would’ve hurt. They didn’t have anesthetics back then, so willingly getting a dental implant back then (into the pulp canal or tooth socket) would’ve been extremely painful.
Archaeologists still cannot identify what the crown was possibly made of, but history can narrow it down. Celtics typically traded with Etruscan elites through trade routes. The Etruscan elites are known for decorating themselves in all sorts of jeweled ornaments. Perhaps the Celts saw how adorned the Etruscan’s teeth were and attempted to emulate them. We may never know.
This recent finding is only one of many. In fact, many previous studies including a 5,500 year old skull from Egypt sport some form of dental implant. Some archaeologists assume that these implants were placed after the person was deceased. It would make a lot of sense, especially at the time, for Egyptians believed that their bodies would cross along with their soul into the afterlife. It’s only fair to give them a set of teeth to use.