The evolution of dental implants

Dental implants, like any reliable dental procedure, have had a long journey of research and investigation to ensure their superior safety. The modern dental implant is the strongest and safest so far, made of carefully selected materials for longevity, cosmetic appeal, and function.

Vast amounts of modern research and medical trials have been carried out by professionals, but have you ever wondered how far back dental implants go? Their humble beginnings stretch far, far further back through the centuries than you might think.

Dental implants have been documented as far back as 600AD, over 1,300 years ago! The earliest known implants to be discovered were used by the Mayans. While excavating their burial sites in Honduras in 1931, archaeologists found a fragment of jaw bone that had three tooth-shaped pieces of shell and stone placed into empty tooth sockets. At first, it was assumed that these pieces of tooth were placed after death for burial reasons, but think again…

It was only in 1970 that we scrutinised the compact bone formation around two of these make-do implants, indicating that they were placed during life. This was also the first indication that the bone could fuse around an artificial root.

This is not the only documented use of tooth replacement. While not classified really as implants, the ancient Chinese used bamboo cuttings to replenish the function of the mouth after losing a tooth. This would’ve restored function, but not aesthetics, to the mouth. The ancient Egyptians, on the other hand, flipped this scale. They replaced lost teeth by reattaching them with wires to the neighbouring teeth, restoring the look but not the feel.

It only took until 1952 for studies to be published by the father of modern implants, Dr. Per-Ingvar Brånemark, providing an early indication that titanium could form the perfect root for tooth replacement. He made a breakthrough discovery when he realised he could not remove a small titanium cylinder that he placed in a bone to study how it healed. The titanium, in fact, seemed to attract the bone to heal around it.

Thus, the titanium root of the dental implant started it’s long and research-driven journey to becoming the strong, stable, and safe procedure it now is!

Tooth replacement has, evidently, come a long way since bamboo shards and strapping in seashells. From their humble beginnings in the Mayan cities to being readily available in most experienced dental offices, the procedure is now far safer, more effective, and more regulated.

While in ancient times you may have had to seek out the village’s medicine man or make do with bamboo, we can thankfully reassure you with safer options. Our York dental practice provides excellent dentistry, including dental implant placement and tooth replacement. Our skilled clinical director and dentist, James Harrison, is committed to implant excellence and is a member of the Association of Dental Implantology.

Your procedure can remain safe and satisfactory when you visit the trusted professionals like us, so step away from the seashells and stones! Book your free consultation worth £150 at our Implant Open Day on Saturday 26th May to discover the many health and cosmetic benefits of tooth replacement with Blossom Dental Care.