History of Dental Implants
Dental implants are often discussed as a new procedure, but this is far from true. The surge in recent popularity comes following decades of research and statistics that demonstrate high rates of success. The success of dental implants is due in large part to our own natural ability to heal, which our staff at Malmquist Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery would be happy to explain. The history of dental implants goes back much further.
Dental implants work in large part because our bone is continuously growing and renewing. Implants are sunk into the bone, and then the bone grows around the device, fusing the two. Today, we have perfected this science by adding threads to the implant, giving more surface space for the bone to grow, and finding just the right materials to react best with our biochemistry. The knowledge we have today began from seeing the attempts of centuries past.
The Long History Prior to Dental Implants
Teeth problems, including infection, rot, or loss of, has always been an issue, though the history of dental care is relatively new. Before the turn of the 20th century, most people just had a bad tooth pulled, and they were left with a missing tooth. Missing teeth will affect what you can chew and will even change your speech. Evidence shows us that the loss of teeth was troublesome for so many of our ancestors.
We have all heard of wooden dentures, but there were also wooden implants. Scientists have found evidence of ancient people with a variety of materials embedded in their jaws to serve as replacement teeth, much the same way that we embed dental implants. Scientists found human remains with pieces of shell, wood, bamboo, metal, and rock embedded in their jaws as replacement teeth. The fact that people attempted replacing teeth didn’t surprise scientists, but what did surprise them was the body’s reaction to the materials. Scientists found evidence of the bone healing and fusing to the various materials. These early forms of dental implants were done without any thought of what would be biocompatible, or the development of infection, but the science was fascinating!
How does the science of dental implants work?
Dental implants work because of a healing process known as osseointegration. Osseo is a medical term referring to bone, and integration means to fuse or bring together as one. Your bone is constantly renewing itself; the cells are always busy at work growing to keep the bone healthy and robust. When we insert a material that is biocompatible, such as titanium or zirconia, the bone can successfully grow over the material and integrate the two pieces as one.
As scientists discussed the findings of these ancient attempts, they became increasingly interested in bone health, bone growth, and bone repair. In the early 1900’s they began to play with different metal materials to see if bonding would occur. By the 1960’s we knew that titanium was the best choice of metals for bone repair. Studies showed high rates of success, even after ten and then twenty years of placement. Today, the news is out; dental implants are the best way to truly restore a missing tooth and get the best feel and function to your natural teeth.