Dental implant is a widely recognized way to economically and permanently replace missing teeth for most patients, and is especially ideal for individuals who may be missing only one or two teeth and seniors. However, the concept of dental implants are not particularly new. In fact, archaeological evidence shows that humans have been trying to replace their missing or damaged teeth for most of recorded history, if not before!
China has some of the largest deposits of ancient implantological evidence. Skulls and remains were found dating to well over 4,000 years ago. These primitive implants were carved from bamboo and then tapped into the bone. No doubt this process was painful and likely had complications, but it is an impressive feat none-the-less. Egyptian remains; however, show a remarkable level of sophisticated for their time. The posts were often made from precious metals (gold, silver, etc.) and crowns have been found in mummies that were either created from transplanted human teeth or carved from ivory.
More recently, the Mayans used shells, shaped like teeth to replace missing teeth. Interestingly enough, this was a highly effective treatment, as there is evidence that these implants engaged in osseointegration. In simulations, they proved to be highly functional and likely also served well from an esthetic standpoint.
There are likely other cases that have not survived the march of time or are now unidentifiable as ‘dental implants’. Modern implants are far more identifiable, given that they are created from titanium and zirconia. The discovery of titanium as useful in implantology was actually accidental. Due to titanium’s chemical properties, tests performed on rabbits, first done by Per-Ingvar Branemark found that titanium readily fuses with the bone of the recipient. This property was found to be fantastically useful for knee and hip surgeries, which later paved the groundwork for the use in dental implants. The first true titanium implant was given to a human volunteer in 1965.
That’s right! The modern dental implant is about to celebrate it’s 50th anniversary. It’s definitely a far sight better than having pieces of ivory and metal, bamboo, or shell hammered and pressed into your jaw. They are also far safer and more effective.
Dental implants have proven time and again to be durable, permanent replacements, and are even highly decay resistant. However, this doesn’t mean you can slack off on your oral care. You still need to brush and floss to retain your surviving natural teeth, prevent gum disease, and to prevent the possibility of infection. Plus, proper care will help maintain and even improve the health of your jawbone.
Zirconia, which is chemically similar to titanium, has become a favorite among esthetic dentists, as it blends in better with the surrounding teeth and does not have the very rare compatibility issues that titanium does.
If you are interested in learning more about dental implants or see if you are a good candidate for dental implants, please give us a call!