History of Dental Implants
By Dr. Collier on December 10, 2018
Dental implants have become an increasingly popular option for treating tooth loss. Thanks to modern technology and materials, dental implants can be used to replace a single tooth or multiple teeth, restoring the look and health of your smile. Memphis, TN dentist Dr. Jason S. Collier can tailor treatment precisely to the patient’s needs.
The team at Southern Dental Implant Center knows that implant dentistry took hundreds and hundreds of years to develop. Given how fascinating these innovations were, we’d like to go over the history of dental implants right now. Our story starts 4,000 years ago, if you can believe it.
Ancient “Dental Implants” and Tooth Replacements
Before we note more recent attempts at replacing missing teeth with dental implants, let’s go over some key attempts at tooth replacement in the ancient world.
- 2000 BC: In ancient China, carved bamboo pegs were used to replace missing teeth.
- 1000 BC: An Egyptian king was discovered to have copper pegs hammered into his jawbone for tooth replacement. It is not known if this was done when the king was still alive, however.
- 100 BC: There is evidence all across the globe of people attempting tooth replacement with animal teeth and extracted human teeth.
- 600 AD: The Mayan people used seashells as replacement teeth.
- 800 AD: The Mayan/Honduran cultures began to use stone for tooth replacement needs.
False Teeth in the 1500s to 1800s
Throughout the 1500s to 1800s, dentures were fashioned from ivory or wood, with the false teeth derived from animals or humans. Initial attempts to replace teeth were unsuccessful due to infection and tissue rejection. These would remain serious hurdles for implant dentistry until the 20th century.
Early Attempts at Actual Implant Dentistry
In 1913, Dr. E.J. Greenfield created a platinum and gold cylinder that was intended to be used as an artificial tooth root. Unfortunately, this precursor to the dental implant we know today was unable to remain fused to the jawbone. Drs. Alvin and Moses Strock also experimented with a chromium-cobalt alloy known as Vitallium to create dental implants, but their efforts also proved unsuccessful. The artificial root simply would not merge with the jawbone.
1950s: A Key Discovery About Titanium
While conducting research on rabbits, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Per-Ingvar Branemark made a remarkable discovery. These rabbits previously had a small titanium cylinder placed along their femurs. Dr. Branemark noticed that the titanium cylinders had fused with the bones of the rabbits, making them difficult to remove. Titanium would not be rejected by the body. Instead, it would be fused with the living bone.
Dr. Branemark named this fusion of titanium and bone “osseointegration.” It is osseointegration that would eventually make dental implants a reality after years of failure due to tissue rejection.
1965: The First Dental Implant
After years of research into osseointegration, Dr. Branemark eventually placed the first dental implant in a human patient. Dental implants would become more commonplace through the 1970s, being used more widely with each following decade.
Dental Implants Today
The dental implants of today are based on the initial designs of dental implants from way back in the 1910s. Thanks to modern 3D imaging technology, dentists and oral surgeons are better able to plan implant dentistry treatments. Optimal implant placement and sturdier materials for dental appliances allow patients to bite, chew, and smile with far greater confidence than ever before.
Learn More About Dental Implants
For more information about dental implants and whether or not they’re good for your needs, be sure to contact the Southern Dental Implant Center. Our cosmetic and restorative dentistry team is here for you and your needs. Reach us by phone at (901) 756-0078.
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