Different Dental Implants Throughout History

Different Dental Implants Throughout History

The field of dentistry has made huge strides in many areas: cavity treatment, braces, cosmetic enhancements and dental implants. The history of dental implants and the improvements made along the way is especially interesting! Take a trip down memory lane with us.

BAMBOO

The first dental implants appear about 4000 years ago in China. The implants were made with bamboo because of its structural integrity and availability. One of the reasons bamboo was so readily available is because it grows extremely fast. In fact, bamboo is the fastest growing plant in the world! Some varieties can grow as fast as 35 inches per day. Ok, back to teeth. Ancient “dentists” would carve the bamboo into tooth-sized pegs and tap them into the jaw bone. Effective? Yes. Extremely painful? Most likely yes!

COPPER

3000 years ago, copper was used to create dental implants. We know this from the remains of ancient Egyptians, specifically royal Egyptians. There is some question about whether the implant was placed before or after death. There is a possibility the implant was placed post mortem because of the Egyptians beliefs about preparing the physical body for the afterlife. They believed they needed to equip the body for eternal life and sometimes that included and precious metals. Remains from this time period also include primitive implants made with ivory.

When implants failed in ancient times, the cause was often unknown. Allergies to metals may have been to blame. DearDoctor reports that some studies have shown as much as 5 percent of the population experiences sensitivity to metallics.

IRON AND GOLD

gold

Next up on the dental implant timeline is iron and gold. In 2014, A celtic grave in France contained a decorative implant secured by an iron pin. The archaeologists who found the woman’s remains counted 31 teeth, which led them to believe the iron pin held in the place the 32nd tooth, giving her a complete smile. Other remains reveal gold pins were used also. This is one of the first instances we see of implants being placed primary for aesthetic purposes, apparently having a beautiful smile was important 2,300 years ago just like it is today!

HUMAN & ANIMAL TEETH

Ok this part is a bit on the creepy side! About 2000 years ago, people started replacing missing teeth with teeth from animals or even other humans.Tufts University categorizes these implants like so:

  • homoplastic: an implant from the same species
  • heteroplastic: an implant from a different species
  • alloplastic: an implant from a nonliving material (what we use today).

As you can imagine, homoplastic and heteroplastic implants were not the cleanest of options and many of these implants resulted in infections and implant failure.

SEASHELLS

Around 600 AD, when the ancient Mayans lived, there is evidence of seashells being implanted in the mouth to replace missing teeth. We have archaeologists Wilson & Dorothy Popenoe to thank for this discovery! In 1931, the couple was in Honduras and found the lower mandible of a women with seashell implants. Bone growth around the implants indicates that the teeth were functional in addition to improving her smile aesthetics.

You can even see these early implants today! They are exhibited at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University.

THE INTRODUCTION OF TITANIUM

If the thought of pounding bamboo or seashells into your jaw doesn’t sound appealing, send your thanks to Dr. Per-Ingvar Branemark for discovering the use of titanium for dental implants. Branemark was actually an orthopedic surgeon who was originally interested in titanium studies for knee and hip surgeries.

In 1952, he was studying the role of blood flow in healing and did an experiment with rabbits. He put titanium in their lower legs and observed the healing process. The titanium and bone fused together nicely, which gave him the idea to use it in dental implants.

The first person to receive a titanium implant was a man with no teeth in his lower jaw due to deformities and a cleft palate. The operation allowed him to have functional teeth for 40 years until his death.

Another type of implant that was experimented with was the Greenfield implant system. The iridio platinum implant was attached to a gold crown. While it did show evidence of osseointegration, the titanium implant still offered better results.

Vitreous carbon was studied for use in dental implants but it was too brittle to withstand the friction of eating and chewing.

BRANEMARK MAKES HIS MARK

Dr. Branemark was given the European Inventor Lifetime Achievement award and the American Academy of Implant Dentistry estimates that more than 7 million Branemark system implants have been placed worldwide.

He also marketed the term “osseointegration” You will definitely hear this word if you ever have to get an implant.

WHY TITANIUM?

Titanium is the perfect material for dental implants because it is highly biocompatible. Not only does withstand corrosion from bodily fluids, it develops a protective oxide film that allows it to adhere well the surrounding bone. It also has the ability to bind to living tissue, which is key for osseointegration.

Allergic reactions to titanium implants are possible, but they are rare. A study done by Clinical Oral Implants Research evaluated 1,500 patients and found 0.6 percent of the study group experienced an allergic reaction to titanium.

IMPLANTS OF TODAY

Today most implants are made with commercially pure titanium and have a textured surface to assist in osseointegration. The American Academy of Implant Dentistry reports that as many as 3 million Americans have dental implants and that the number is growing by 500,000 a year!

The field of dentistry has made huge strides in many areas: cavity treatment, braces, cosmetic enhancements and dental implants. The history of dental implants and the improvements made along the way is especially interesting! Take a trip down memory lane with us.

BAMBOO

bamboo

The first dental implants appear about 4000 years ago in China. The implants were made with bamboo because of its structural integrity and availability. One of the reasons bamboo was so readily available is because it grows extremely fast. In fact, bamboo is the fastest growing plant in the world! Some varieties can grow as fast as 35 inches per day. Ok, back to teeth. Ancient “dentists” would carve the bamboo into tooth-sized pegs and tap them into the jaw bone. Effective? Yes. Extremely painful? Most likely yes!

COPPER

3000 years ago, copper was used to create dental implants. We know this from the remains of ancient Egyptians, specifically royal Egyptians. There is some question about whether the implant was placed before or after death. There is a possibility the implant was placed post mortem because of the Egyptians beliefs about preparing the physical body for the afterlife. They believed they needed to equip the body for eternal life and sometimes that included and precious metals. Remains from this time period also include primitive implants made with ivory.

When implants failed in ancient times, the cause was often unknown. Allergies to metals may have been to blame. DearDoctor reports that some studies have shown as much as 5 percent of the population experiences sensitivity to metallics.

IRON AND GOLD

Next up on the dental implant timeline is iron and gold. In 2014, A celtic grave in France contained a decorative implant secured by an iron pin. The archaeologists who found the woman’s remains counted 31 teeth, which led them to believe the iron pin held in the place the 32nd tooth, giving her a complete smile. Other remains reveal gold pins were used also. This is one of the first instances we see of implants being placed primary for aesthetic purposes, apparently having a beautiful smile was important 2,300 years ago just like it is today!

HUMAN & ANIMAL TEETH

Ok this part is a bit on the creepy side! About 2000 years ago, people started replacing missing teeth with teeth from animals or even other humans.Tufts University categorizes these implants like so:

  • homoplastic: an implant from the same species
  • heteroplastic: an implant from a different species
  • alloplastic: an implant from a nonliving material (what we use today).

As you can imagine, homoplastic and heteroplastic implants were not the cleanest of options and many of these implants resulted in infections and implant failure.

SEASHELLS

Around 600 AD, when the ancient Mayans lived, there is evidence of seashells being implanted in the mouth to replace missing teeth. We have archaeologists Wilson & Dorothy Popenoe to thank for this discovery! In 1931, the couple was in Honduras and found the lower mandible of a women with seashell implants. Bone growth around the implants indicates that the teeth were functional in addition to improving her smile aesthetics.

You can even see these early implants today! They are exhibited at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University.

THE INTRODUCTION OF TITANIUM

If the thought of pounding bamboo or seashells into your jaw doesn’t sound appealing, send your thanks to Dr. Per-Ingvar Branemark for discovering the use of titanium for dental implants. Branemark was actually an orthopedic surgeon who was originally interested in titanium studies for knee and hip surgeries.

In 1952, he was studying the role of blood flow in healing and did an experiment with rabbits. He put titanium in their lower legs and observed the healing process. The titanium and bone fused together nicely, which gave him the idea to use it in dental implants.

The first person to receive a titanium implant was a man with no teeth in his lower jaw due to deformities and a cleft palate. The operation allowed him to have functional teeth for 40 years until his death.

Another type of implant that was experimented with was the Greenfield implant system. The iridio platinum implant was attached to a gold crown. While it did show evidence of osseointegration, the titanium implant still offered better results.

Vitreous carbon was studied for use in dental implants but it was too brittle to withstand the friction of eating and chewing.

BRANEMARK MAKES HIS MARK

Dr. Branemark was given the European Inventor Lifetime Achievement award and the American Academy of Implant Dentistry estimates that more than 7 million Branemark system implants have been placed worldwide.

He also marketed the term “osseointegration” You will definitely hear this word if you ever have to get an implant.

WHY TITANIUM?

Titanium is the perfect material for dental implants because it is highly biocompatible. Not only does withstand corrosion from bodily fluids, it develops a protective oxide film that allows it to adhere well the surrounding bone. It also has the ability to bind to living tissue, which is key for osseointegration.

Allergic reactions to titanium implants are possible, but they are rare. A study done by Clinical Oral Implants Research evaluated 1,500 patients and found 0.6 percent of the study group experienced an allergic reaction to titanium.

IMPLANTS OF TODAY

Today most implants are made with commercially pure titanium and have a textured surface to assist in osseointegration. The American Academy of Implant Dentistry reports that as many as 3 million Americans have dental implants and that the number is growing by 500,000 a year!

Speak Your Mind

*