Dental Implants A Fascinating History

February 24, 2016

There has been a need to replace missing or broken teeth since mankind existed. We owe today’s dental implant advances to our ancestors who tried everything from precious stones to teeth from dead bodies in pursuit of the perfect dental replacement, making dental implant history so fascinating.

Over 26,000 years ago, the Etruscans were the first to use dental appliances, bridges and retention bands. As early as 2000 BC, ancient Egyptians used shells or ivory to replace missing teeth. Archeologists discovered dental bridges where a tooth is attached by gold or silver wire to the surrounding teeth. Such bridges were sometimes made from donor teeth.

The Mayans, 600 B.C., were masters of cosmetic dentistry. They used to decorate teeth with precious stones, knowing exactly where to drill without hitting the pulp. Around 100-200 AD, the Romans used bridges in which false teeth were secured with metal loops.

In the Victorian era, teeth were in high demand and the two main sources were willing volunteers or dead battlefield bodies. Dentures were sometimes carved from hippopotamus ivory. In 1815, teeth were pulled from the mouths of young dead soldiers in the Battle of Waterloo and that’s why, in the 19th century, the term “WaterlooTeeth” referred to teeth stolen from the mouths of dead bodies.

The upper classes, though, started to hate wearing dead men’s teeth which led to the introduction of other material like porcelain. Modern day dental implants are an outcome of 1950s research by Dr. Branemark who first implanted titanium roots into the jaw of a human in 1965. In the 1990s Nobel Biocare introduced the all-on-four technique, were only 4 implants were used to replace a full arch, and in 2011 Thommen Medical innovated their Inicell application system, which uses a hydrophilic liquid to coat the implant prior to insertion which enhances osseointegration.

With these breakthroughs comes the facilitation of providing full mouth implants—full dentures or implant-supported full bridges—when a person is missing or having severe problems with all of their teeth. Denture implants will replace the natural teeth and some of the roots. The advantages of implant-supported full bridges or dentures over conventional dentures are plenty: looking and functioning naturally, long lasting, more comfortable and stable, easier to bite and chew,and better preserve the bone because they replace some of the roots and integrate with your jawbone.

If you have been pushing away the thought of a dental implant or denture, be assured that implant technology has come a long way since the ancient Mayans and Egyptians. It has had a success rate of 97% for over 40 years and it is one of the most predictable dental replacement options today. We pride ourselves in keeping up to date with latest innovations in dental implants. Book an appointment to discuss your dental implant and denture options with Dr. Wehbe.