Historical evidence suggests that, like so many inventions, it was the Ancient Egyptians who first used dental implants. They made replacement teeth from seashells, and then hammered these into slots cut into the jawbone. It has been suggested that the calcium carbonate in the shells was key to the success of this technique – the shell implants would, in some cases, fuse with the bone.
Historians also discovered a wrought iron dental implant, probably crafted by a blacksmith, in the jawbone of a Gallo-Roman from the 2nd century CE. In a report published in the journal Nature in 1998, the implant was described as fitting into its socket perfectly, and x-rays showed it had fused with the bone.
Modern dental implantology can be traced back to the 1950s and 60s. Sweden’s Dr Per- Ingvar Brånemark and Switzerland’s Dr Andre Schroëder were amongst the first to investigate the potential of titanium implants. In 1952, Brånemark discovered, somewhat fortuitously, that titanium microscopes used for research had bonded permanently to living bone tissue. He carried out further experiments which showed that titanium could be structurally joined with living bone. He called this process ‘osseointegration’.
Titanium roots were implanted in a patient for the first time in 1965. Then, in 1981, a pivotal study was published which triggered the wider adoption of this technology. Between 1995 and 2002, the number of implant treatments performed doubled, and today dental implants are the number one choice for anyone who wants to permanently replace missing teeth. No other solution replicates the appearance, feel, and function of real teeth as successfully.
Nobel Biocare, who we use exclusively, describe themselves as “inheritors and developers of the work of Professor Brånemark,” and they are now world leaders in this field.
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