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The History of Dental Implants

Lake Oswego, OR

Dental implants are a unique treatment used for the replacement of missing teeth. Instead of sitting on your gums like traditional dentures, or using your adjacent teeth like fixed bridges, dental implants use small titanium posts that are surgically implanted into your jawbone to support your dental restorations. At Nicholas Dose, DMD Family Dental Care, we offer many different types of dental implants to meet a variety of different needs. Dental implants are often thought to be a modern development. This may be true of the implants we use today, but dental implants as a whole have a much, much longer history.

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Using Dental Implants After Death

Dental implants go back thousands of years. Many discoveries have been made that show the use of dental implants in cultures all around the world. The earliest dental implants were found to have been placed after death. These implants were believed to have been placed to prepare the bodies for the afterlife.

The Discovery of Early Tooth Replacement

One of the most interesting discoveries concerning dental implants came from a discovery made in 1931. The mandible of a young Mayan woman was found with a piece of carved bone and bits of seashells in her jaw, right where a tooth should have been. Originally, it was thought to be just like other implants, placed after death. However, a few decades later, it was found that the bone in the jaw had begun fusing to the implant, demonstrating that her implant had been placed while she was still alive.

The Early Stages of Modern Dental Implants

The implants we know and use today are the result of modern discoveries. In the 1950s, a Swedish orthopedic surgeon, Per-Ingvar Brånemark, was researching how bones heal. During this research, he placed a cylinder made of titanium into the femur of a rabbit. He tried to remove it at a later time only to find that the bone had begun fusing to the posts, making it impossible to remove easily. Brånemark had accidentally discovered the natural process called osseointegration.

This discovery led Brånemark to look further into titanium and osseointegration. Over the years, he used both animal and human subjects, eventually developing dental implants to help replace missing teeth. He placed the first implants in 1965. Despite their success, Brånemark delved deeper into research, looking for ways to improve the success and stability of the treatment. He eventually entered into a partnership with Bofors AB, now Nobel Industries. This company, which helped him to develop and market his products, created Nobelpharma, now Nobel Biocare, to focus solely on dental implants. Today, Nobel Biocare is the industry leader in dental implant products.

What Does the Future Hold?

Dental implants have undergone some incredible changes to make them more stable and more reliable. There have even been alternative types of dental implants developed to help patients undergo treatment without the need for bone grafts first. Even today, more research is being conducted to further improve treatment with dental implants. This research includes finding alternative materials to provide patients with metal sensitives, or those with reservations about metals, an opportunity to enjoy the same incredible benefits offered by titanium.

Dental implants provide an incredible alternative to traditional treatments for tooth loss and provide many substantial benefits.

Are you interested in learning more about the history of dental implants? Give us a call at (503) 647-4565. We are happy to help you learn more about your smile!

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