The idea of replacing absent teeth with some sort of stand-in that replicates a biological tooth’s structure originated with ancient societies like the Mayans and the Egyptians.
Those devices were made of more rudimentary materials, like ivory or shells, but today’s dental implants are made of metals, typically titanium, which have qualities that allow bone material to bond with them. Furthermore, those ancient civilizations didn’t have access to an oral surgeon with the same degree of expertise that today’s practitioners have.
The dental implants that are available to today’s patients have their foundation in scientific discoveries of the mid-1950s. At that time, a Swedish scientist named Per-Ingmar Branemark was exploring the process by which bone heals when he noticed that bone had grown around a metal cylinder that had been inserted into an animal’s thigh bone, inadvertently uncovering the biocompatibility of titanium. That is, titanium has qualities that allow bone to form a bond with this metal.
Although Branemark had not initially set out to identify this phenomenon, he recognized the potential it held for implant dentistry, an area which had been a focus of scientific investigation for some time. Over the next few decades, he continued to test the suitability of titanium for dental implants. Initially, his efforts were met with some skepticism, but by the 1980s, the technology was increasingly reliable and accepted as a realistic intervention.
Not long thereafter, dental implants gained approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, an important step in making the treatment readily available to patients.
More recently, dental implant manufacturers have continued to adapt and advance the devices, altering the surface design to facilitate more rapid osseointegration, for example. Oral surgeons continue to participate in continuing education classes on dental implants to fine-tune their skills in implant placement.
The technology and techniques used in implant dentistry have advanced significantly in the decades that followed the discovery of titanium’s biocompatibility. Now, dental implants offer a reliable, convenient solution for tooth loss. If you need to replace a missing tooth or teeth, discuss dental implants with our skilled team of oral surgeons to see if this intervention may be appropriate in your case. Contact our office today to schedule your visit.