Dental implants have been used for thousands of years. Although the methods of replacing lost teeth might not have been very pleasant back in the day, people have always understood the importance of a good-looking smile. Today, with the help of oral surgeon practices, dental implants are a common procedure and according to scientific literature, they have a 98% success rate. This article looks at some of the key developments in dental implants throughout time.
2500 BC – 88 AD
Even in ancient times, dental implants were used to replace missing teeth. Egyptians used a method to stabilize teeth which involved the use of ligature wire made of gold. Etruscans made tooth replacements from oxen bones and soldered fold bands from animals to restore oral function in humans. The Phoenicians also used gold wire to stabilize teeth, and even used ivory as a tooth replacement. The first evidence of actual dental implants is attributed to the Mayans. The Mayans utilized pieces of shells as implants, allowing the growth of compact bone formation around the implants.
1600s – 1800s
From the late 1500’s to the 1800’s, teeth were collected from the underprivileged or from cadavers to use for dental implants in Europe. Dr. John Hunter was an iconic person during this time. He worked with “resurrectionists” who acquired corpses through grave robbing. Due to this partnership, Hunter was able to document the anatomy of the mouth and jaw. He then suggested transplanting teeth from one human to another, and through experiments he saw the jaw bone form around the implanted tooth. During this time, materials such as silver capsules, corrugated porcelain, and iridium tubes were used as implants.
Drs. Alvin and Moses Strock experimented with orthopedic screws made of Vitallium. This screw provided anchorage and support for replacement of a missing tooth. The Strock brothers were recognized for their use of a biocompatible metal in a dental implant procedure. Dr. Bodine found a way to use fewer struts or girders in a dental implant surgery and Dr. Lee first introduced the use of an endosseous implant with a central post.
Throughout these decades, various implant designs were expanded and modified. The Ramus Blade endosseous implant was made of surgical grade stainless steel, which was to serve as a synthetic third molar. Additionally, in 1978, a threaded titanium root-form implant was developed and tested using titanium screws.
In an oral surgeon practice today, dental implants are made of titanium, which is a bio-compatible material that is naturally accepted by the body. The natural jaw bone attaches itself to the implant, using it as a strong foundation for the tooth replacement.
Fortunately, an experienced oral surgeon working at an oral surgeon practice can give you a much more pleasant experience than you would have had thousands of years ago. Full dental implants are a great way to replace missing teeth and restore confidence in your smile.