Societies as ancient as the Egyptians and the Mayans recognized the potential of treating tooth loss with devices that could integrate with the bone. Although those groups relied on the rudimentary materials available to them, like iron, ivory or shells, some of those early implants were able to ultimately integrate with the bone.
Fortunately, an oral surgeon has better materials to work with in today’s dental implant patients, and patients benefit from more aesthetically pleasing results.
Modern dental implants have their roots in a scientific discovery that occurred in the mid-twentieth century. A Swedish scientist named Per-Ingvar Branemark was doing an experiment on bone regeneration in rabbits. He had inserted titanium chambers into the rabbits’ ears, and when he went to remove them, he found that the surrounding bone had essentially formed a bond with the titanium.
Other researchers had explored other metals and their suitability for dental implants, but titanium produced the most consistent results. Branemark recognized that this discovery could have a significant impact on implant dentistry and worked to fine-tune the devices. He ultimately developed an entity to make dental implants commercially available in 1978, and by the mid-1980s, the devices were used widely to replace absent teeth.
The process by which the bone bonds with the titanium implant, osseointegration, gives dental implants their remarkable durability and stability in comparison to other tooth replacement methods. The implant becomes a fixture in the patient’s jaw.
Since that initial discovery that led to modern dental implants, researchers and manufacturers have made even more advances. Recovery times are now shorter, and the osseointegration process has become more predictable. Some advances in the technology of dental implant surface design have also reduced the timeframe needed for osseointegration to complete.
Dental implants have been used in patients regularly for decades, with a high success rate. To learn more about this treatment for tooth loss and the advantages of dental implants, contact Northern Virginia Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery to schedule a consultation.