History of Dental Implants
The progression of dental implants began with observations of ancient attempts which led to more advanced scientific understanding from dentists who better-understood surgery and biocompatibility. The implants placed today have an extremely high rate of success, this is in large part due to the advancements made in the 1960s in understanding the metal to use and the patient’s natural healing process. Our staff at Oral & Facial Surgery Institute of Houston are happy to demonstrate the implant process and how it can benefit you.
Early History of Dental Implants
The concept of dental implants first began with the desire to replace missing teeth. The need to replace teeth is an old tale; we need teeth to chew, to help with our speech, while also enhancing our look. Even in ancient times, people wanted replacement teeth. We know this because archeologists have found ancient remains in several locations with various materials shoved into the jaw to serve as replacement teeth. They have found remains with rock, wood, gems, bamboo, and metal. The fact that people tried isn’t the most impressive part; it was the fact that the bone reacted and continued to grow around the foreign object that impressed scientists.
Osseointegration and Dental Implants
Bone is constantly healing and growing. When an object is inserted into it, the bone will continue to grow around the device. This healing process has come to be known as osseointegration. Osseo is a medical term referring to bone and to integrate is to bond or become as one. The bone showed signs of bonding to the device. This information fascinated scientists, and today, surgeons use metal to make repairs all over the skeletal frame.
With the discovery of the natural healing process, scientists then wanted to know what material would be best. They wanted a material that was strong, durable and most importantly, biocompatible. Various metals were attempted. It was the studies of Leonard Linkow, in the 1950s, and Brånemark in 1965, that led to surgical success.
Brånemark found titanium to be the metal of choice for dental implants. Titanium is a metal that is strong, durable and highly biocompatible. It is very rare that a person experiences an allergic reaction to titanium, and long-term studies have shown most patients can retain their implants for life, many exceeding thirty years of wear.
Today, most dental implants are made with titanium, but there are also ceramic zirconia implants being used. Zirconia is often branded as being metal free, though zirconia has an atomic number of 40, meaning it contains metal, many patients view it as being more crystal.
How Dental Implants Help Your Health
Dental implants are not a replacement tooth, rather a replacement root and once it is healed, it can serve as a solid post in your mouth that is making direct contact with the jaw. Dentists can use this post to anchor a single tooth, or as part of an anchor for a dental bridge, a partial denture or even a full denture, such as the All-on-4 Treatment Concept. There are many restoration options available.
The surgical placement of dental implants is a minimally invasive procedure; it is approved for most patients, even those who are medically delicate. A patient who is not a candidate is a patient who is unable to heal properly, this may be due to a medical condition, a medication they are taking, or if the patient smokes. Any of these conditions does not necessarily eliminate candidacy, just means that adjustments will need to be made or we will want to work with your physician to improve your healing ability. All of this will be covered during your consultation.