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23rd August 2018

The development of dental implants

Like all good dental technology and procedures, the humble dental implant has been on a whirlwind journey of development of innovation. They stretch back further than you’d ever thought and have since lead to the stable titanium-rooted treatment you receive from us today. The modern dental implant is the strongest and safest so far, made of carefully selected and tested materials. We can restore form, function, and feel, but what were some of the earliest dental implants like?


The development of dental implants has been documented as far back as 600AD, over 1,300 years ago. The earliest known implants that we have discovered were implemented by the Mayans. While excavating a Mayan burial site in Honduras in 1931, archaeologists found a fragment of jaw bone belonging to a female with some of the earliest dental implants known to this day. Three tooth-shaped pieces of shell and stone placed into empty tooth sockets were at first assumed to be placed for burial reasons, but it seems not. In 1970, the jawbone was scrutinised again, and it was found that the compact bone formation around the make-do implants indicated that they were placed during life. This was one of the earliest indications that bone could heal around an artificial ‘something’ to fuse and form a root.


This was one of the first, yet not the only, documented uses of tooth replacement. While not necessarily the dental implant we know and love today, the ancient Chinese used bamboo cutting to replenish function in the mouth. These shards of wood fill in for a missing tooth to allow biting and chewing, though they weren’t the most cosmetically pleasing! The ancient Egyptians also toyed with tooth replacement, though they focussed on aesthetics rather than bamboo. Lost teeth were replaced for burial reasons to make mummies ‘whole’ enough for the afterlife. They attached jewels, stones, and sometimes other human teeth with gold wires, restoring the teeth but only after death.


Fast forward to 1952 and studies were beginning to be published by the man affectionately known as the father of modern dental implants, Dr. Per-Ingvar Brånemark. It was Brånemark’s studies that provided the early indication that titanium could form the perfect stable root for tooth replacement. This breakthrough discovery occurred when he realised he couldn’t remove a small titanium cylinder from a healing bone. The cylinder had attracted the bone to heal around it, which began the first real rollercoaster of discovery in modern implant placement.


Tooth replacement has clearly come a long way since the days of bamboo splinters. From their beginnings in Mayan civilisation to being readily available right here in Stourbridge. The procedure is now far safer, more effective, and more regulated.


We’re proud to offer effective dental implants that allow you to smile, chew, and talk with confidence again. Losing a tooth, despite your best efforts, can be disheartening and really knock our confidence, so regardless of whether you need to replace one or multiple teeth, Lion Dental Centre can help. Enquire online today or call 01384 376336 to find out more.

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