Here at Pleasanton Prosthodontics, we’ve seen more and more of our patients opt for dental implants rather than other restorative treatments. Dental implants give patients a natural-looking restoration that blends in perfectly with their remaining teeth and facial characteristics. The restorative abilities of dental implants showcase just how far the field of dentistry has come. In fact, it’s amazing to compare modern dental implants to the primitive attempts at dental implants thousands of years ago.
Tooth loss is not a new problem for humans and we have long since been searching for a way to restore lost teeth. Dental implants actually date all the way back to the Mayan civilization where individuals attempted to restore missing teeth with sea shells. With that being said, we want to take some time to recognize just how far dental implants have progressed. Dental implant provider, Dr. Maggie Chao shares more on this subject with an in-depth look at the history of dental implants for her patients here in Pleasanton, CA.
Tooth loss has always been a burden to humans and it can significantly impact daily life. From the aesthetics of your smile to your ability to properly chew and speak, a full set of teeth is imperative to day-to-day life. Even civilizations dating back thousands of years realized the importance of treating missing gaps too! The earliest record of dental implants dates back to the ancient Mayan civilization in 600 A.D. Archaeologists found evidence while excavating an ancient burial site in present day Honduras. They found pieces of seashells in the mandible of a young woman believed to be in her twenties. At the time, researchers believed that the seashells must have been placed post-mortem. It wasn’t until roughly 40 years later, radiographs proved that the bone grew around the seashells, proving that the seashells must have been placed while the woman was still alive. Researchers also discovered that a stone implant was placed around 800 AD in the very early days of Honduran culture.
Mayans weren’t the only ancient civilization to try their hand at restoring missing teeth. Other societies like the ancient Egyptians were known for placing primitive tooth replacements. Researchers found that a copper peg was used for an Egyptian king approximately 3,000 years ago. This is the first known use of a metal replacement and is believed to have been placed post-death. Other instances of ancient metal false teeth can be found in the ancient Celtic civilization. Archeologists found an iron false tooth in an ancient Celtic grave in present-day France. Once again, they believe that this was most likely placed after death because hammering an iron tooth would be excruciating.
Over time, we didn’t see much improvement in most of the attempts at early dental implants. People began experimenting with replanting teeth bought from slaves or poor people along with teeth taken from animals. In most cases, the individual would end up with an infection and their body would reject the foreign tooth. Major experimentation with dental implants began in the eighteenth century with doctors trying out different materials such as alloys and gold.
This major breakthrough lead to the dental implants we know today occurred in 1952 with an orthopedic surgeon, Per-Ingvar Brånemark. While studying the healing process of bones, Brånemark placed a titanium cylinder around the femurs of rabbits. When he finished up the study, he then noticed that the bone healed so close to the cylinder that it had actually fused together in a process we now know as osseointegration. Nothing the fusion of titanium and bone, Brånemark believed that this would be the perfect material to use for dental implants. After years of experimentation, he placed his first dental implant in 1965. He placed four implants to secure a denture in a man that was born with jaw deformities and a cleft palate. The implants successfully stayed in place for the next four decades until the death of the patients.
Brånemark’s discovery lead to the restorative abilities we enjoy with today’s dental implants. We’ve been able to restore the smile of countless patients here in Pleasanton with the help of dental implants. To find out more about the dental implant process, feel free to browse around this educational infosite. Ready to start your implant treatment? Contact our office to schedule your no-obligation consultation with Dr. Chao today!
Dr. Maggie Chao
1475 Cedarwood Lane Suite C
Pleasanton, CA 94566
Monday: 9AM – 4:30PM
Wednesday: 9AM – 4:30PM
Friday: 9AM – 4:30PM