The desire to have a healthy mouthful of teeth is not a new invention; as a matter of fact, humankind has been exploring the concept of dental implants for literally thousands of years. However, it took until the last century for us to finally master this achievement, but the struggles and the efforts of previous generations are not without merit. Having missing teeth is not just a cosmetic concern. If tooth loss is not immediately addressed, it could lead to a battery of complications later on in life. We here at Southern Arizona Periodontics want to take a moment to share with you the fascinating history of dental implants, not only for your education but also for your entertainment!
Dental Implants: Then and Now
The first evidence of an attempt at placing a dental implant in a human showed up around 4,000 years ago in ancient China. Archeologists discovered that bamboo pegs were used as makeshift dental implants, but there is little evidence that these pegs were successful or not. The next major discovery of dental implants showed up around a thousand years later, in Egypt. A king was discovered with a copper post embedded directly into his jawbone. However, they were unable to determine if the copper peg was placed before the king had died, or afterward. Can you imagine, in an era before modern medicine, how excruciatingly painful such a procedure must have been?
Throughout history, shells, stone, wood, metal, and even the teeth and bones of animals were used as prosthetic teeth. Teeth would be taken from slaves, obviously without their consent. Despite valiant efforts, these implants would be rejected. For instance, historians found a false tooth made out of iron in a Celtic grave dated from 2,300 years ago. The first successful recorded evidence of a dental implant dates back to 600 A.D., where a woman had managed to implant three teeth made out of shell. Bone had fused to those teeth, indicating that the procedure was a success.
It took until 1965 for humanity to perform its first successful modern dental implant procedure. In the late 1800s, we started to experiment with metals like gold and platinum, but it took until a surgeon discovered that titanium could fuse to bone (a concept known as osseointegration) that we were able to finally successfully place a dental implant in a patient. Now, we can perform this procedure on our patients with a remarkable 98 percent success rate. By placing a titanium screw underneath the gums, directly into the bone, we can encourage osseointegration to create a strong and lasting foundation for the dental implant.
The concept of dental implants may seem like science fiction, but the reality is that with new advancements in technology, we can complete this procedure on our patients. It is no longer a mysterious concept, but rather, a normal – and quite safe – routine procedure. If you have any questions about the engaging and interesting history of dental implants, or you would like to schedule an appointment at our office to determine if you would be a good candidate, we would love to talk with you and meet with you. Please give us here at Southern Arizona Periodontics a call at 520-322-9300 today to schedule your appointment!