From Bamboo Pegs to Titanium Posts: A Brief History of Dental Implants

By Edward Sauer on April 19, 2019


Dental implantsDental implants restore dental function and improve oral health for many people suffering from tooth loss. Drs. Eddy Sauer and Nathaniel Avirett use the latest advances in dental implant treatment to provide patients with excellent results and beautiful smiles.

Dental implants may be a cutting-edge treatment for replacing missing teeth, but they also have a long history that can be traced back to ancient civilizations. Find out more as we take a brief look at the history of dental implants that led to their use at our Amarillo, TX practice.

Ancient Roots

Today's dental implants look very different from early dental implants, which may be traced back to China around 2000 BC. Archaeological evidences suggests that the ancient Chinese used bamboo pegs to replace missing teeth.

Excavations of Mayan sites have also shown possible evidence of early dental implants. The Mayans may have used shells to replace missing teeth with some success; a skull dated around 600 AD was found to have the jawbone healed around three tooth-shaped shells. Because the bone appears to have healed and bonded to the shells, these early dental implants may have been fairly successful.

Dental Implants Didn't Progress Until the 1800s

Dental implant treatment made little to no progress from the time of ancient civilizations until the 1800s, when dentistry came into its own as a profession.

Knowing that tooth loss was a problem for many people, dentists made attempts to create dental implants by securing pieces of metal within the jawbone. Gold, silver, and platinum were most commonly used, but these metals lacked the right properties, causing many dental implant attempts of the 1800s to fail.

In addition to using metals, human teeth from cadavers were sometimes used, along with corrugated porcelain. Human teeth implants were one of the more successful implant treatments at this time, although they typically did not last throughout a person's lifetime.

A Discovery in the 1950s Set the Course for Modern Dental Implants

During the 1950s, a Swedish surgeon named Per-Ingvar Brånemark was studying bone regeneration in rabbits. As part of his study, he had placed a titanium device within a rabbit's leg bone. When it was time to remove the device, Dr. Brånemark found that the bone had healed and fused with the titanium.

Dr. Brånemark called the process by which the bone fused to the titanium device “osseointegration.” Realizing the significance of osseointegration, Dr. Brånemark realized titanium could provide a means for successful dental implant treatment.

In 1965, Dr. Brånemark performed the first dental implant surgery using titanium, which opened the doors for more advances and improvements in dental implant treatment not only in Drs. Sauer and Aviretts' Amarillo practice, but also the world over.

Today's Dental Implants

Thanks to the discovery of osseointegration with titanium, patients can benefit from the secure, permanent replacement of missing teeth that only dental implants can provide.

Today's dental implants are screw-like titanium posts that provide many patients with a lifetime of results, providing tooth replacement that feels, looks, and functions just like natural teeth.

At Drs. Sauer and Aviretts' Amarillo practice, dental implants may be paired with a variety of restorations, including dental crowns, implant-supported bridges, and implant-supported dentures, to replace one or more missing teeth.

Find Out If Dental Implants Are Right for You

If you have one or more missing teeth, dental implants may be the right treatment for restoring your smile. To find out if you're a candidate, please schedule a consultation by calling our practice at (806) 358-2472.

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