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What is the History of Dental Implants?

Tooth loss is one of the most damaging oral health problems. Sadly, it is also a pretty common dental complication. Fortunately, when tooth loss does occur, there are multiple treatment options for patients to consider.


But, it took centuries to establish and perfect dental implant treatment. Considering the long history of dental implants, patients at our Chicago Streeterville dental practice should consider themselves lucky to be able to benefit from this revolutionary tooth loss treatment.


Ancient Tooth Loss Remedies


While dental implants may be a relatively new innovation in the field of dental treatment, tooth loss certainly is not. There is ample evidence that tooth loss was a concern for those living in ancient civilizations. There is also evidence that shows attempts were made to address this problem.


Early forms of tooth loss treatment varied based on where and when a person resided, but some ancient tooth replacement options included bamboo, bones, human teeth, animal teeth, and various metals.


Discovering Osseointegration


Over the centuries, people gained a better understanding of oral health and dental practices advanced. Still, for hundreds of years, people tried many dental implant materials and designs without finding the ideal solution.


The main problems were a lack of stability and the body’s rejection of foreign objects. It wasn’t until 1952 that an orthopedic surgeon stumbled upon the process of osseointegration.


Per-Ingvar Brånemark was conducting a study on blood flow and bone healing when he placed a titanium cylinder in a rabbit bone. When the study was over and he went to remove the cylinder, he found that it was not possible. The rabbit bone had grown around the titanium, essentially making it a permanent part of the bone.


Though the discovery of the osseointegration process was not the intent of the study, Dr. Brånemark recognized how this fusion could be beneficial in multiple fields of medicine, including dental treatment.


The First Dental Implant


The discovery of osseointegration was a vital event in the history of dental implant treatment. It was hypothesized that this same fusion process could be used to hold a metal screw, or implant, in place to act as an artificial tooth root.


In 1965, the first dental implant was placed in a human volunteer. The procedure was a success, and the dental implant design and technique quickly evolved and improved from there.


Today’s dental implant is a tiny titanium screw that is surgically placed within the jawbone. After giving the patient time to heal (and allowing osseointegration to occur), this screw is attached to a small metal abutment, which then attaches to a dental restoration.


Dental implants are a dental procedure and apparatus specifically designed to replace individual teeth.  The result is a natural-looking tooth crown.  Implants are made of several individual elements; the actual implant which is integrated into the maxillary and mandibular bones, an abutment that is designed to fit on top of the portion of the titanium that can be seen above the gum line, and finally the artificial tooth looking crown.  The crown is designed to look exactly like the missing natural tooth and is formulated by your restorative dentist and then attached to the abutment.   The final product will give the appearance of anatomy as well as the physiology of the natural teeth.

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