Dental Implants are now the most effective way to treat tooth loss. Did you know the history of the procedure dates back to Ancient China thousands of years ago?
It seems as though, right from the very beginning of our ‘civilised’ reign, people have always valued a mouth full of teeth. Either for their functional or aesthetic benefits, the loss of one’s teeth has always equated to a certain loss of prestige or damage to one’s reputation. It seems to be a fact that permeates different cultures at different times throughout history, that we have a strong desire to replace our missing teeth which has lead to the conception of dental implants in one guise or another.
Dental Implants’ Ancient Beginnings
According to history, the earliest dental implants first were first used in ancient China where they used pegs made from bamboo to replace any missing teeth. Of course, this isn’t a sustainable solution and it wasn’t until a thousand years later that we believe the first metallic prosthetic was used. The tomb of an Egyptian king was discovered dating back to around this time and he was found to have a copper peg hammered into the bone of his jaw, though it is not certain whether this was done before or after his death.
A little closer to the present day in 300 BC, an expedition in France discovered a Celtic gravesite which contained a body that had had an iron tooth planted into their jaw in much the same way as the Egyptian king. However, in this case, it’s believed that this was for aesthetic reasons because the placement of the implant would have been to painful to attempt during their life. Yikes. Makes you appreciate the treatments we have today doesn’t it?
The Rise Of Modern Dental Implants
The first foray by researchers in the 18th century into using gold and alloys ended badly. They didn’t make a breakthrough until 1886 when a doctor placed a porcelain disc over a platinum one, but this was still without long-term success. What needed to occur was a process called osseointegration, or the fusing of the prosthetic tooth and the jaw without being rejected as a foreign body.
Titanium was the key to osseointegration and it wasn’t until 1952 that an orthopedic surgeon uncovered the materials needed to fuse the bone and the tooth successfully. The first time that the dental implant procedure was completed using titanium was in 1965 and was performed by an orthopedic surgeon by the name of Branemark. The rest, as they say, is history and dental implants have continued to evolve and adapt to become an excellent solution for tooth loss with almost 97% of patients experiencing long-term success. We can now replace a single tooth or even a whole row using some of the finest materials available.