Brief History of Dental Implants

If you think dental implants have only been around for a decade or two, you may be surprised to learn they got their start thousands of years ago.  In fact, as far back as 2000 B.C., carved bamboo pegs were used in ancient China to replace missing teeth.  Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since then.  However, the journey has been filled with plenty of variety.

Gems, Seashells, and More

Believe it or not, it was not uncommon in ancient civilizations and even well into the 18th-century for dentists to use almost anything they could to replace a missing tooth.  For those folks who were wealthy, rare gems such as jades were sometimes used to replace a lost tooth. For other individuals, it was common to find their mouths filled with small seashells, rocks, or even the teeth of other people or an animal.  But as you would suspect, all of these methods were prone to infection and discomfort, leading dentists to look for more suitable methods.

Thank the Rabbit

As for how dentists finally got on the right track with dental implants, you can thank a rabbit for helping to show them the way.   In 1952, the femur bone of a rabbit was fused together with a titanium rod, and the process worked so well that the orthopedic surgeon who performed the surgery thought the same method could be applied to dental implants.  Thus, in 1965, the first human volunteer received a titanium dental implant, and the rest is history.

A Quicker Pace

Once the rabbit helped everyone see how well titanium would work with dental implants, researchers hit the fast-forward button and have been going full-speed ahead ever since.  Since titanium took care of the past problems where a person’s body would reject the dental implant, screws can now easily be secured to a person’s jaw and eventually fuse with the jawbone, allowing a crown to be inserted over the screw.

Thanks to digital technology, 3-D printers, and ever-increasing scientific knowledge, today’s dental implants have a success rate of over 97 percent.  Since you now know you won’t have bamboo, seashells, or other strange things in your mouth, make an appointment with your dentist to discuss how you may benefit from dental implants.


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