The History of Dental Implants
Through every age of man, there has been evidence of attempting dental restoration. Modern dentistry has far exceeded these historic attempts in health, comfort and range of function, but many notes from our past has been observed and taken into consideration. Dentistry has advanced greatly in the past century, with an even larger step forward due to the addition and success of dental implants. With the placement of a dental implant, a patient is permanently restoring a missing tooth, in a firmly stabilized way that does not rely on neighboring teeth for support. As implants have increased in popularity, patients are finding more and more that they no longer have to be embarrassed of their smile, or stop eating the foods they love. Implants have brought a freedom to many patients, freedom to chew, speak, and feel confidant in social situations because they have their teeth.
Early Dental Implants
The earliest attempt at a dental implant that we are aware of is from more than 4000 years ago in Ancient China, where there is evidence of using bamboo pegs to replace missing teeth. Archeologists have also observed human remains from across the ages with metal and shell used for the same purpose. What’s more, scientists observed that the bone with embedded shell had actually begun to grow around the shell, making it a somewhat functional restoration. Though we would not recommend bamboo or shell, modern dentistry agrees that missing teeth can be a significant problem that can and should be resolved for the overall health of the patient.
Modern Day Implants
As dentists began to attempt implants in the early 20th century, the biggest question was what material to use. A variety of metals were used in the attempt for successful implantation. They wanted a metal that would be strong, durable, biocompatible, and be able to stay firmly in place. In 1940 there was a breakthrough, titanium was used for implants, first in rabbits, and found that they not only stayed in place, but that after healing, they were very difficult to remove. This is because a process known as osseointegration has occurred.
Osseointegration is a term that refers to being taken in by the bone. Doctors found that titanium was light weight, strong, it was a metal that the human body did not reject, and that the living tissue was willing to grow and heal around it, fusing the metal to the bone. Once this fusion took place, the metal rod was a permanent part of the body, allowing the patient a strong base for a dental restoration appliance.
The First Titanium Implants
It wouldn't be until 1965 that scientist, Per-Ingvar Brånemark, attempted the first titanium implant procedure in a human. As more and more success was observed, doctors were able to determine proper placement, the various sizes needed, and develop treatment plans for patients depending on their needs. Today, dental implants has become the dental restoration of choice when a single or multiple teeth are missing. Once the implant has healed, there are a variety of restoration options available, from the placement of a crown, a dental bridge, or even to stabilize an entire denture. The possibilities are vast. Dental implants are known for having the longest success rate in dental restorations, and provide patients with the closest look, feel, and function of their own natural teeth.