A Brief History of Dental Implants

Although having a missing tooth could come handy when drinking through a straw, it is otherwise an inconvenience

Humans have been attempting to replace missing teeth for thousands of years with different materials. Ivory, animal bone, rocks and minerals. In ancient China bamboo pegs were placed in the sockets of extracted teeth. The Etruscan people were doing bridges with gold wire and human teeth in 700 B.C.

Dental Implants were discovered accidentally in the early 1950’s when Dr. Branemark, an orthopedic surgeon was trying to study the process of bone healing in rabbits and he used titanium tubes that were placed on the rabbit’s leg bone to be able to document the process. To his surprise, when the time came to remove the titanium tubes, they had a hard time detaching them because they had fused to the surrounding leg bone. This phenomenon later became known as Osseo integration, which is the ability that some materials have to stick to living bone.

From his observations he then decided to study if this same process would take place in human bone and since teeth happen to be the most common missing body part, the mouth became the ideal place to study the success of titanium implants. By the late 60’s dental implants started being successfully placed in people’s jaws as an alternative to bridges. Since then, the advancements in implant dentistry have made it a routine procedure that has helped millions of people replace one tooth or the entire mouth dentition.

We have come a long way since the development of dental implants. Implants used to only be placed in surgical rooms by highly specialized clinicians, today, it has become a much more routine chairside procedure that is performed in dental offices by a dentist with advanced implant training.

Implants have brought great freedom of choice to patients with missing teeth. Before implants, patients were limited to removable dentures or fixed bridges that use natural teeth to anchor the missing ones. Today, people don’t have to sacrifice healthy tooth to support structures that may eventually fail and leave them with more complex problems to deal with.

People with natural teeth apply between 40-80 pounds of pressure to chew their meals. Denture wearers are only able to apply about 17-25 pounds because the denture rests on the gums and it hurts to press any harder. Also excess pressure makes the dentures flip and move. The upper denture holds from the palate like a suction cup. The lower denture however, has no such retention, it is usually a mix of gravity and gradual cheek and lip muscle training. A simple way to improve the quality of life and the diet of lower denture wearers is by anchoring it from dental implants. The procedure takes about 20 minutes and after a short healing period the denture is fitted with attachments that can be snapped on and off the implants, giving the patient a significant increase in the retention, stability and support of the denture, allowing them to chew solid meals.

Whether a patient is looking to replace a single tooth or the whole mouth, there is an implant solution available for them. If you have any questions about dental implant alternatives, give us a call to schedule a complimentary consultation.              

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