A short account of a surprisingly long history

We’re willing to bet your great-grandparents didn’t have dental implants. It’s not that they weren’t around back then, just that they weren’t popular, due to two main factors: cost and materials. The explosion of implants onto the mainstream dental stage over the past decade is down to a considerable improvement of both affordability and technological advances.

But did you know that dental implants have actually been used for much longer than we commonly think? Here’s a brief primer so you can impress your friends down the pub – before you ‘wow’ them again when you show off your very own implants!

(Im)plant a tree

As long ago as 4000 BC, the Chinese were taking word ‘implant’ quite literally and tapping carved bits of bamboo into the sockets of teeth that had fallen out. Time jump 2000 years and cross the world to Ancient Egypt and you’d be seeing implants made from bone, ivory, human or animal teeth and even the first metal implants. It’s unclear what the infection rate was in the days before sterilisation, but having an animal tooth shoved into your jaw sounds like a pretty bad idea to us modern dentists.

Integration at last

Osseointegration is the process by which the bone around the implant grows around and bond with it. There is evidence of this happening in South America in 600 AD with implants made of shell. It’s the first instance of implants being designed to work well and not only look good.

Precious metals

If we jump again to Europe in the early 20th century, we see implants being made of precious metals and then, in the 1940s-50s scientists finally settled on titanium as being the ideal material for implants and osseointegration. Implants from that time were topped with gold crowns – this continued until relatively recently, when ceramic crowns have become more popular.

Today at 543 Dental, we offer the latest in modern implants, using the wonders of digital technology to guide their placement. Book in today for a dental implant consultation and, as we talk you through what to expect from your new natural-looking and feeling teeth, spare a thought for your predecessors who were walking around with bits of bamboo in their mouths!