When it comes to the history of dental implants, it surprises many people to learn that dental implants have been around for much longer than the 1990s when they took off in popularity. The modern version of dental implants has existed since the 1970s, although they have undergone modification and improved many times since then.
Dental implants have become enormously popular as a means of permanent tooth replacement over the past 25 years. It’s easy to see why when you consider their many benefits. Unlike removable dentures that can cause the bone to deteriorate and the face to sag, dental implants preserve facial integrity. They also appear more natural, present fewer food restrictions and are most similar to your natural teeth in terms of cleaning. What you probably didn’t know was that their first use dates all the way back to the prehistoric era.
The Mayan Civilization and Dental Implants
People in prehistoric times lost their teeth and were innovative about replacing them. Several years ago, archaeologists discovered ancient skulls that showed natural teeth replaced by stone, jade and seashell fragments. Despite the primitive nature of the materials used to replace teeth, some did fuse to the jawbone of our prehistoric Mayan ancestors.
Fast Forward to the 20th Century
The discovery of dental implants as we think of them today happened by accident. In 1952, an orthopaedic surgeon discovered he was unable to extract a small titanium cylinder that he had placed inside a patient’s bone. He was attempting to do this to study bone healing. What he learned instead is that titanium has a natural tendency to fuse to the bone in a process called osseointegration. This information was instrumental in the use of dental implants in the future.
Over the next several years, dentists began to offer dental implants to patients. Some early iterations were used in fully edentulous patients (people who no longer had any of their own natural teeth), as an alternative to dentures.
Modern Dental Implants
In the modern era, patients who are good candidates for dental implants can have them replace a single tooth, several teeth or all their natural teeth. While early implants were one-size-fits-all, today’s devices come in a range of sizes and shapes. If you have remaining natural teeth, it’s very possible to have the replacement tooth and implant be indistinguishable from your own natural teeth.
If you’re considering dental implants, you’re fortunate to live in the modern era with so many options available. Dr. Jonathan Yeung or Dr. Francis Yeung would be happy to answer your questions about the dental implant procedure when you schedule a consultation at Brewery District Dental. Call today to learn if dental implants are right for you!