If you are one of the many people in Southern California and beyond who have replaced their chipped, cracked or missing teeth with dental implants, then you know firsthand that implants provide a stable, comfortable, and long lasting solution for restoring a beautiful smile.
But did you know that dental implants haven’t always been as successful or advanced as they are today? A brief history of dental implants shows us just how far we’ve come.
Primitive methods of tooth replacement
The issue of tooth loss isn’t unique to modern civilization. Though the biggest concern in 600 A.D. was more likely functional than cosmetic, people have been experimenting with dental implants for thousands of years. While implants today are made of titanium and porcelain, the Mayans worked with what they had on hand. These materials ranged from carved stones, such as jade, to seashell fragments. Surprisingly, despite their primitive methods, some of these early implants actually fused to the jawbone to provide a stable foundation for chewing.
Early designs of dental implants
From the 1500s to the 1800s, Europeans collected human teeth from the underprivileged or from cadavers. During this period, Dr. John Hunter came on the scene and suggested transplanting teeth from one human to another. He tested his hypothesis on a rooster – and it worked. In the 1800s, countless other materials were used as dental implants including silver capsules, corrugated porcelain, and iridium tubes.
Dental implants in the 20th century
It wasn’t until the 1930s that doctors tried using orthopedic screw fixtures to replace missing teeth. Drs. Alvin and Moses Strock are credited as the first to experiment and implanted Vitallium screws in both dogs and humans to restore individual teeth. In the 1940s, Formiggini and Zepponi developed a post-type endosseous implant with a spiral design that allowed bone to grow into the metal. Numerous doctors elaborated upon this design over the next several decades.
Dental implants were a serendipitous discovery
Much of what makes modern dental implants so successful is what’s called osseointegration – the process by which bone fuses to titanium. Dr. Per-Ingvar Brånemark made this discovery accidentally in 1952 when, in the midst of a study on blood flow in rabbit femurs, he realized that he couldn’t remove a titanium chamber he had placed in a bone to see how it healed. In 1965, Dr. Brånemark first placed a two-stage threaded titanium root-form implant in his patients. The dental implants integrated within six months and lasted for the next 40 years.
Dental implants then and now
Modern dental implants have been used since the 1970s and have since undergone numerous improvements in design and function. Today, dental implants come in a variety of shapes and sizes to suit the different teeth they’re meant to replace, and are implanted by experienced oral surgeons, like us here at Dental Implant Experts.
Are you a good candidate for dental implants?
Chipped, cracked, or missing teeth are not only a cosmetic issue – they can affect the health of your entire mouth. If you’re considering dental implants to restore your smile and the structural integrity of your teeth, give us a call.
At the Dental Implant Experts in San Diego, we leave the stone and seashells at the beach and craft our dental implants using only the highest quality materials. Better yet, we have all of the equipment and specialists needed to transform your smile in just one day.
Contact us today to schedule your consultation with our team of dental experts. You’ll be glad you did.