History of Dental Implants

Dec 5, 2018 @ 12:19 PM — by Neil L. Starr, DDS
Tagged with: Dental Implants

Digital illustration of dental implant in jawboneDental implants are used to replace missing teeth. As common as dental implants are today, it is easy to forget that they have not always been around. In fact, the history of dental implants goes back to the ancient world. Today, our Washington DC dental team explores a brief history of this popular teeth replacement option.

Ancient Civilizations and Teeth Replacement

Through the years, archaeologists have made some interesting discoveries regarding dental care in the ancient world. We see evidence of attempts at tooth replacement dating back centuries.

In fact, Egyptian burial sites suggest that individuals stabilized loose teeth by threading them together with gold wire.

The first known attempt at replacing missing teeth with implants was recorded in China 4,000 years ago. Bamboo pegs, which had been carved into the shape of the teeth, were hammered into the jawbone.

This treatment also occurred 1,000 years later in Egypt, when a copper peg was used to replace a king’s missing tooth. It is uncertain, however, whether the peg was placed before or after his death.

One particularly fascinating discovery took place at an ancient Mayan burial ground in 1931. Archaeologists discovered that seashells had been used to replace missing teeth.

Even more interestingly, one seashell had fused with the jawbone. This suggested that osseointegration was possible, providing implants were made with the right material.

1500s - 1800s

As the centuries passed, people did not give up on the idea that teeth could be successfully replaced by implants.

During the Middle Ages, people purchased teeth from the poor to replace their own missing teeth. In fact, some individuals resorted to grave-robbing to steal the teeth of the deceased. However, this method failed due to infection.

1800s - 1900s

The first attempt at a standardized implant took place in 1886. A platinum disc served as an anchor for a porcelain crown. After placement, however, the body rejected it.

The primary issue with dental implants fabricated during this time period is that they did not fuse to the jawbone. Experts knew this was the only way to achieve long-lasting results, so they began to experiment with various metal alloys.

Brånemark’s Discovery

The most significant finding in dental implantology was discovered by Per Ingvar Brånemark, a Swedish orthopedic surgeon. While studying bone regenerative capabilities, he found that a titanium rod had fused to a rabbit’s femur bone. This discovery solved the problem of implant stability and introduced a reliable method for osseointegration.

Brånemark then placed the first titanium dental implant in a patient in 1965, and the procedure was a success. Since then, experts have continued to improve modern dental implants.

For instance, the surfaces of today’s implants are roughened by sandblasting or chemical abrasion. This process creates micropores which allow the bone tissue to grow into them. As a result, osseointegration can occur within three to six months in most cases.

Contact Our Practice

Have you been considering dental implants as a teeth replacement option? Schedule a consultation with Dr. Starr to learn more about your options. Call our office at (202) 293-7177 or contact us online anytime.

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