Most people now know that dental implants are the best way to replace a tooth. But do you know their history?
It’s tempting to think of dental implants as a brand new thing. As recently as ten years ago few people had heard of them. In reality, the modern dental implant has been in use since the 70s, right there with bell-bottoms and polyester shirts.
Attempts have been made to replace missing teeth far longer than the Bee Gees were singing, though. Dental implants have been tried as far back as humans were using technology. The earliest attempts at dental implants on record can be found in the Mayan civilization dating back to 600 A.D. Archeologists have found ancient skulls where missing teeth have been replaced with a variety of materials ranging from carved stones such as jade to fragments of seashells. And despite how that sounds, many of those early implants actually fused into the jawbone!
As with many technological advances, modern dental implant technology was arrived upon by accident. In 1952, a Swedish orthopedic surgeon had placed a small titanium screw into a bone to study how it could be used to help broken bones fuse back together. But after it had been in the bone for a few months, he tried to remove it and found that the jawbone had completely enveloped it. This property that titanium has of fusing with the bone is called osseointegration and is the basis of the modern dental implant.
If you’re missing a tooth, or have severe damage to a tooth or teeth, dental implants are the best replacement option. And at Gentle Dental, we promise we won’t use seashells!