Learn more about the interesting history of dental implants

# History of Dental Implants


Dental implants are considered the most advanced solution for missing teeth on the market today! In recent years, the popularity of implants has sky-rocketed thanks to ready availability, improved esthetics, high-quality materials, and new techniques.

While we tend to think of dental implants as a modern marvel, they have a rich and extended history that spans thousands of years. At Rockwall Oral Surgery, we believe that patient education is an important part of dentistry. The following information is designed to give you some insight on the history of dental implants.

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A long history of tooth replacement

Modern dental implants make dentures obsolete.

A Brief Look Through Time

There is archeological evidence that humans have been attempting to replace missing teeth with implants since ancient China, dating back about 4000 years! Archeologists found remains with carved bamboo pegs, positioned into the jawbone, to replace missing teeth. In Egypt, 2000-year-old remains have been found with similar pegs made out of precious metals, like copper. Believe it or not, some mummies have even been found with transplanted human teeth, and in other cases, teeth made from ivory. While the copper pegs may have been placed after death, they serve as the first recorded case of metal root replacements.

There is also evidence from 2000 years ago that people would often try to replace missing teeth with teeth bought from other people, or animal ones. Replacement teeth from another living subject are likely to become infected and rejected by the host. Implants received from an animal are classified as a heteroplastic, and those from another human are known as homoplastic.

In 1931, an explorer named Wilson Popenoe, and his wife, found the remains of a young Mayan woman at an archeological site in Honduras. In the lower mandible jaw, they found three pieces of shell, shaped to resemble teeth, which filled the space of missing incisors. The shells not only had bone growth around the roots, but there was also calculus formations. These are indicators that the shells were both esthetically-pleasing and functional!

Major Developments with Dental Implants

In the 1950s, researchers at Cambridge University devised a method of successfully embedding titanium into soft tissue. In 1952, Swedish orthopedic surgeon Per-Ingvar Brånemark used this research to test his theories on bone regeneration. During his research, Brånemark observed that titanium had unique properties that allowed the living bone to effectively adhere to the metal. Today, the process of fusion between a titanium implant and bone is known as osseointegration.

In 1965, Brånemark placed his first titanium dental implant into a human subject. This was a pivotal moment in dental history. Over the next several years, Brånemark’s published studies and performed experiments to further prove his theories. By the 1980s, dental implants had become a well-known solution for tooth replacement treatment.

Today’s Dental Implants

Today’s dental implants consist of a titanium screw (similar to a tooth root), an abutment (support structure), and a restoration (prosthetic tooth). New technologies and techniques have led to the advent of implant-supported crowns, bridges, and full mouth restorations. The latter has essentially made dentures obsolete. With a success rate of nearly 98%, it’s no wonder why dental implants have become the industry standard for tooth replacement!