An Abbreviated History of Dental Implants

Missing teeth can have a major impact on your oral health and overall well-being. The team of dental professionals at our Westmount dental clinic has seen how the marvel of modern dental implants can change people’s lives. Dental implants have a fascinating, little-known history, and humans have experimented with this method of tooth replacement for centuries.

Ancient Dental Implants

The Mayans, Chinese, Egyptians and other ancient cultures experimented with different types of tooth replacements, embedding stones, fragmented seashells, bamboo pegs, gold, ivory and bone into the empty sockets that once held teeth. In 1931, an archeologist in Honduras discovered the jawbone of a Mayan woman with tooth-shaped seashells embedded in the mandible. At the time scientists believed that the shells were placed there after her death, but in 1970, an inquisitive dental academic learned that the jawbone had grown around the shells; meaning that they had fused with the bone while she was alive, a process now known as osseointegration.

Modern Dental Implants

In the early 20th century, some researchers attempted to develop dental implants from different types of metals. In 1913, the Greenfield implant system used iridioplatinum implants, which were capped with gold crowns and lasted a few years.

In the 1940’s and 1950’s, experiments were conducted using titanium as a biocompatible material for implants. This led to a major innovation by Swedish orthopedic surgeon Per-Ingvar Brånemark, who discovered that titanium successfully fused to bone, and termed this process osseointegration. He placed his first titanium dental implant in a human volunteer in 1965. Dr. Brånemark continued to refine and develop dental implants, eventually making them available for commercial use in 1978. Since then, dental professionals around the globe have successfully placed millions of dental implants; restoring patients’ smiles with strong, stable tooth replacements that look, feel and function like real teeth.

The skilled dentists at our Westmount dental clinic use advanced techniques and state-of-the-art technology to successfully place and restore dental implants. If you have missing teeth, these marvels of modern dentistry can improve your oral health and give you something to smile about.