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The History of Dental Implants

How have dental implants developed?

Dental implants are a modern and efficient way of replacing missing teeth. Current dental implants serve as artificial tooth roots and anchor the replacement tooth to the jaw bone. Earliest dental implants are found in the mummies of ancient Egyptians who appear to have hammered seashells into the jaw bone to replace missing teeth.

Contemporary dental implant procedures are based on research which started in the 1950s and 1960s. Until this time, many dentists were utilizing blade-style implants made of steel which were intended to integrate into the jaw bone by way of a connective tissue capsule. Although this was an effective restoration, there was a high incidence of failures. The implants were commonly dislodged, leaving the patient with a hole where the implant had once resided.

In 1952 Dr. PerIngvar Branemark inGothenburg,Swedendiscovered that titanium would fuse with living bone and consequently identified the process he named “osseointegration.”

Dr. Branemark then developed the implant system that is still in common use today. The system consists of titanium surface, threaded post and an external hex joint. The implant system is placed in two phases, first the replacement root (threaded post) is placed in the jaw and then allowed to heal (osseointegration) then the hex joint is attached to the threaded post in a second procedure. After a healing period, the implant is ready to have an artificial tooth applied.

While Dr. Branemark was developing his implant system (first known as Biotec but later changed to Branemark), Dr. Andre Shroeder ofBerne,Switzerlandwas developing the ITI system. Dr. Shroeder’s implant system consists of a hollow, one-piece transmucosal screw coated with a titanium spray. This style of implant does not require a two-phase surgery and instead the entire implant is placed in a single visit.

The last major improvement was the implementation of the microtextured surface. Developed by Dr. Stig Hansson in the 1980s, microtexturing utilizes pure titanium grit blasting to roughen the surface of the implant and a micro-thread on the coronal collar to improve load distribution.

Each of these three implant styles are still in use today and will likely continue to be improved upon until genetic engineering completely replaces the need for inorganic implants.

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Dr. Bruno Silva
Founder and Principal Dentist, Brighton Implant Clinic.