The Evolution of Dental Implants

Dental_ImplantsAs long as our human ancestors have had teeth, they have also no doubt appreciated what a blessing it is to have a mouth filled with natural teeth. Tooth loss has always posed a difficult challenge for human beings, and there is evidence going back as far as 600 A.D. that people were attempting to replace lost teeth with crude dental implants made of jade, seashells and other materials.

Dental implant materials and techniques have evolved rapidly in the past 70 years, to the point that today, dental implants are a highly recommended option for addressing tooth loss issues.

The evolution of dental implants

Here are a few key dates in recent dental implant history.

  • 1949 – Two dentists devise the subperiosteal implant framework method for placing implants. This technique places the implant in direct contact with the jawbone. However, long-term failure rates for this method turn out to be high.
  • 1957 – Swedish orthopedist Per-Ingvar Branemark discovers that bone will grow successfully around titanium implants, and realizes that this dynamic – known as osseointegration – has major implications for dental implants. While the dental profession is skeptical of Branemark’s discovery at first, it is eventually validated as clinically useful, since a titanium implant anchored in the jawbone provides a secure and bio-compatible base for a dental crown or final restoration.
  • 1968 – In the late 1960s, two different styles of implants, the transosseous and the endosseous, were attempted. Both employed the concept of osseointegration, but were invasive and had low success rates.
  • 1970s – 1990s – Over the last decades of the 20th century, dental implant techniques were refined and success rates shot up dramatically. The implants themselves have evolved from a one-size-fits-all design to implants that are customized to the size and shape of the tooth being replaced.
  • 2000s – One of the more exciting recent developments in implants is the rise of the All-On-4 system, which allows overdentures to be placed on four to six permanent implant posts that are anchored in a patient’s jaw. The result is a set of teeth that replaces one or both arches of teeth in a way that preserves precious jawbone and allows patients to chew and speak without difficulty.

“Dental implants have come a long way since the middle of the 20th century,” says Dr. Carol Ford, a cosmetic dentist with a practice in central Phoenix. “Today, they are safe, effective, and an affordable restoration for patients who are facing tooth loss.”

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