History of Dental Implants: A Success Story
While many people think dental implants are still relatively new in the dentistry practice, they’ve actually been used for decades already. Since that time they’ve turned out to be extremely successful. Extensive scientific research, combined with years of clinical use has shown that dental implants are often the best option for replacing missing teeth. The type of implants that are used today first started being used in the seventies. Many improvements have been made to their design since then, but overall, they still function in the same way.
Some form of tooth replacement using implants has been used by humans going back thousands of years. The earliest implant tooth replacement attempt that has been discovered dates back to 600 A.D., during the Mayan civilization. Ancient skulls have been discovered with teeth replacements using materials such as jade, seashell pieces and stones. While these tooth replacements were likely not as comfortable, pain-free and functional as they are today, some of them were even fused to the jawbone.
Modern dental implants are made out of titanium, which is a material that is very well received by the human body. The discovery of titanium’s potential for dental implants happened in 1952 when an orthopedic surgeon conducted an experiment to find out how bone healed. For this study he placed a titanium cylinder in a bone to see how it would heal after taking it out. He found out that he couldn’t take it out however, because the piece of titanium had fused to the bone. The fact that titanium fuses with bone (called osseointegration) is what makes it such a great material for dental implants.
Dental implants first started being used for people who had lost all their teeth and didn’t tolerate normal dentures well. These days they are often used for people who have lost one or a few teeth. They are the best option for replacing a missing tooth because they are so close in look, feel and function to a natural tooth.
Implants all used to be the same width with only their length being different and were machined to be smooth. Today however, implants come in different sizes and shapes depending on which tooth they are replacing. The surface of the implants has been enhanced to better promote osseointegration. Their surface is now roughened because this creates a larger surface area to which the bone can attach.
If you have lost one or several teeth, it is important that you see a dentist as soon as possible. Missing teeth don’t only affect your smile’s look, but can have a detrimental impact on your other teeth and your oral health in general. Dental implants are one of the best options for replacing teeth today. Your dentist can provide you information on the options for replacing your teeth, what the procedures involve and how much it will cost. They can also recommend an oral surgeon who will put in the actual implants. Don’t be afraid to shop around for prices, but remember that quality is the most important aspect to look at for such an important procedure.
Zane Schwarzlose is a writer at Lakeway Center for Family and Cosmetic Dentistry, a dental office in Lakeway, Texas. Zane got a little woozy writing this article.