Are you ready to get a tooth replaced?

The-history-of-dental-implantsWhile the technology used in modern dental implants makes them the number one choice for tooth replacement, they are certainly nothing new.

In the last couple of decades there has been a huge amount of solid scientific research coupled with perfecting the design and technology. Yet no matter how many changes there have been, the goal has always been the same – to replace a lost tooth or teeth with a permanent, fixed solution.

You can travel back thousands of years to early civilisations and discover that even then, they recognised how beneficial replacing lost teeth was. The earliest record of an attempt at replacing a tooth via an implant was around 600 AD amongst the Mayan civilisation. Archaeologists have recovered skulls dating from those time where teeth have been replaced with all manner of materials ranging from seashell fragments to carved stone such as jade. Despite the primitive materials and methods available at the time these early implants has actually been fused to the jaw bone, we can only imagine the pain involved, considering this was way before anaesthetics came into being.

It was in the 1950’s that dental implants as we know them today were discovered quite accidentally by an orthopaedic surgeon. During his research he had placed a small titanium cylinder into a bone to observe how the bone healed around it. Once healed he could not remove it without breaking the bone to do so. This led to him realising the unique ability titanium had for fusing to living bone. He called this process osseointegration; osseo being the Latin for bone and integration for the fusion or joining part. This is the biological basis on which all modern implants are still used.

Dental implants were first invented for those who has lost their teeth but just couldn’t get to grip with their false teeth or dentures. This is a very common problem and most people tolerate them rather than ever find them comfortable. Appearance and stabilisation are the major issues most denture wearers have. False teeth look exactly that – false – and as there are no teeth present left in the mouth the bone degrades. So the dentures end up ill fitting and even more uncomfortable. The densest bone in the human jaw is at the bottom at the front, and as bottom dentures are the biggest bugbear implants in this part of the mouth are the most popular.

While there are hundreds of types of modern implants used today, when they first became popular they were very much a case of one size fits all. Original implants were all of the same width and the only thing that differed was their length.

Thankfully it is very different these days and they come in all manner of shapes, sizes and shades. The implants, still made of titanium, have been honed over the years to fuse better than ever. The screws themselves are no longer smoothed by machinery but are now roughened using such techniques as sandblasting or acid etching with makes the them fuse to bone better than ever before.

With this change in technique comes a huge difference in longevity. An implant fitted in the 1980’s was given a lifespan of 10-15 years, those fitted today can literally last you a lifetime.

If you are currently considering a dental implant we hope you found this brief overview of their history interesting. As with most things the sooner you inquire about your implants the better, especially if you already have missing teeth.


To book your consultation call 0141 332 1101.

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