The History of Dental Implants

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Our teeth are really important to us, and always have been. When we have them all and they aren?t paining us, we take them completely for granted. When they start to bother us, though, toothaches or an abscess can seriously interfere with our quality of life. One way of protecting our ability to comfortably chew, eat, and talk is to replace a broken tooth with dental implants. If you have teeth and like history, you?ll love knowing the crazy history of dental implants, dentures, and other fixes humans have developed to protect one of our most vital assets: our teeth.

The Oldest Implants (That We Know Of) Are Chinese

Not surprisingly, the Chinese were making and using implants as much as 4,000 years ago. These implants were made of bamboo, and we can pretty much guarantee they were uncomfortable to fit.

The Chinese Aren?t the Only Ones

Teeth are so crucial to comfortable life that just about every ancient civilization has independently developed some tooth implants of some kind or another. The Egyptians used a copper metal peg to replace the tooth of at least one king, though that could have been done after death. An iron false tooth was found among some real teeth in an ancient Celtic grave in France. And 2,000 years ago, people regularly tried to replace teeth with animal teeth or teeth bought from a poor person who needed some extra cash. Sadly, these implants usually got infected and rejected. Other things we?ve used as implants? Jade, sea shells, and various kinds of wood. In some cases, the replacements actually did work, fusing correctly with the jawbone.

More Modern Implant Experiments Started in the Nineteenth Century

They still weren?t terribly successful, though. Porcelain and platinum were used, as well as gold and other alloys. The problem was that the human body tended to identify these materials as foreign invaders and reject them. Over time, dentists realized that the replacement tooth would have to fuse with the bone, but that the materials they were using frequently couldn?t. Thankfully, modern implants can use titanium, a material that usually successfully fuses.

Titanium: Who Figured That One Out?

It happened in 1952, and it was a total accident. A surgeon named Branemark was trying to take out a little piece of titanium he?d implanted in a rabbit?s bone. When he couldn?t, he realized the bone and the titanium had fused beautifully. He sensed that he?d discovered something amazing, so he got human volunteers. This particular medical experiment was a rousing success both for orthopedic surgery and for dentistry.

Current Dental Implants Work Really Well

We?ve come a long way since those bamboo pegs, and today about three million people have implants, with 500,000 getting one every year. The literature suggests that dental implants in the modern era are successful about 98% of the time, which it a great track record.

There you have it! The fascinating story of our history with implants. We need our teeth and have always looked for ways to relieve toothache, remove bad teeth, and put in implants that will guarantee us the freedom to live life to the fullest! If the condition of your teeth is interfering with your quality of life, go get them looked at and find out the options for making you more comfortable. You won?t regret it.

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