The History of Dental Implants

by Dental-Pedia
The history of dental implants: From Implants in Antiquity to Modern Dental Implants

From Implants in Antiquity to Modern Dental Implants

Dental implants are currently considered the most advanced solution for tooth replacement. They’re the only available method to replace the missing teeth’ root structure, thereby providing a firm and solid base for the crowns and bridges. Dental implants essentially look, feel, and function like natural teeth. And thanks to modern innovations, you have numerous options for dental implants, such as titanium implants, zirconia implants, 1-piece implants, 2-piece implants, same-day implants, and more. 

This article provides a brief history of dental implants and speculates on the future of implantology. 

Ancient Teeth Replacement Techniques 

  • 2500 BC, Ancient Egyptians: Gold ligature wires to support decaying teeth. 
  • 2000 BC, Ancient Chinese: Carved bamboo pegs used as replacement teeth. 
  • 500 BC, Ancient Italians: Oxen bones and gold bands from animals to replace teeth. 
  • 300 BC, Phoenicians: Carved ivory stabilized with gold wires to make dental bridges. 
  • 600 AD, Mayans: Shell pieces implanted into the mandible (credited as the first implants). 
  • 800 AD, Hondurans: Dental implants made of stones planted in the mandible. 
Beyond the specific teeth replacement techniques mentioned above, various civilizations throughout ancient history have tried (unsuccessfully) replacing teeth using animal teeth. 

The Emergence of Modern Implants - the history of dental implants

The Emergence of Modern Implants 

1930s: Drs. Alvin and Moses Strock applied the concept of hip implants to dental implants. They developed an orthopedic screw made of a chromium-cobalt alloy that could serve as an endosteal implant. Later in the same decade, Dr. P.B. Adams developed a cylindrical endosteal implant to be placed under the gum line. 

1940s: Dr. Formiggini (The Father of Modern Implantology) developed a stainless steel endosteal implant that facilitated jawbone fusion with the metal. Later, Dr. Raphael Chercheve modified the design with spiral burs to facilitate better insertion. The subperiosteal implant (placed above the jawbone) was later developed by Dr. Gustav Dahl in the late 1940s. 
1960s: Drs. Cherchieve and Giordano Muratoni designed cobalt and chromium double-helical spiral implants. Dr. Leonard Linkow later developed implants that could be placed in the maxilla and mandible jawbone. 
Image1978: Dr. P. Branemark developed the two-stage titanium implants that eventually became the gold standard in dental implants. He had discovered osseointegration earlier in 1952 while conducting an experiment on rabbits. He placed titanium chambers in the rabbits’ femurs and observed that bone tissues firmly grew into the implant without fracturing, and he applied that theory to produce titanium implants. 
By the end of the 20th century, titanium implants were standardized as the ideal means of dental reconstruction and teeth replacement. They displayed nearly perfect success rates with less than a 5% risk of implant failures, peri-implantitis, or titanium allergies. 

Dental Implants in the 21st Century 

Zirconia Implants 

Zirconia (ceramic) implants are metal-free alternatives to titanium implants that came into the picture early in the 21st century. It was initially met with skepticism because zirconia implants fractured easily. However, they’re quickly becoming the new standards in the dental implant industry as more patients are drawn to their naturalized appearance. Recent studies have shown that zirconia implants have a similar success rate as titanium implants with a lower risk of titanium intolerance or allergies. 

Same-Day Implants 

The traditional dental implant process lasts for several months — after the dental implant surgery, you have to wait several months before receiving the prosthetic. However, advanced techniques have paved the way for same-day dental implants, i.e., you can get the implant with a prosthetic the same day as your tooth extraction. CAD/CAM technologies now allow dentists to produce prosthetics in-office, so you don’t need to wait weeks for restoration. 

The Future of Dental Implants 

No one can know for certain what’s going to happen in the future, but we can make intelligent predictions. While zirconia implants have already become established as the new standards in dental implants, titanium implants are still used more broadly. In the near future, it’s guaranteed that zirconia implants will become the norm, possibly rendering titanium implants obsolete. However, it’s important to emphasize that zirconia implants already have widespread usage. 

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