As the optimal treatment for replacing missing teeth, dental implants are growing in popularity. While all methods have their advantages, dental implants are the only replacement method that can keep the jawbone from shrinking. As of now in 2017, the procedure is safe and reliable, boasting a success rate that exceeds 95%. But dental implants used very different forms. Learn about the history, evolution, and potential future of this remarkable restorative treatment.
Read about how dental implants have been a major restorative procedure for thousands of years.
Over 4000 years ago, the ancient Chinese people used bamboo as a replacement for missing teeth. Human remains have been found with small pegs of bamboo inserted into the mouth to mimic the function of tooth roots.
Remains from 2000 years ago show that Egypt used their own variation of dental implants. Rather than bamboo, Egyptians used precious metals to form replacement tooth roots. In Egyptian mummies, human teeth were added back into the mouth, suggesting that they may have replaced missing teeth with those of other humans.
The most advanced evidence of dental implants in the ancient world comes from the Mayans. Dating back to 600 AD, Mayans used seashells, stones, and metals such as jade to replace their teeth. The key difference here is that the remains were found with bone grown over them, a fact that signifies that the Mayan dental implants were not just for aesthetics – they were also functional.
A few key advances led to the modern form of dental implants. Read about the discoveries that gave way to the innovative tooth replacement treatment that we know today.
1913 – The Greenfield Basket
Comprised of iridioplatinum, the Greenfield dental implants earned the nickname, The Greenfield Basket. The most remarkable thing about this iteration of the dental implant is that it has some minor abilities to fuse with bone – a process that would be perfected later that century.
When working with rabbits at Lund University, Swedish orthopedic surgeon, Per-Ingvar Branemark realized that the titanium he inserted wasn’t coming out easily. He discovered that the metal screws had fused to the bone, and went on to attribute this property specifically to titanium. The discovery of osseointegration would change surgeries forever, making teeth and limb replacements safe and reliable.
The number of people who opt for dental implants over dentures or bridges is growing rapidly, signifying that the process isn’t going away anytime soon. As new variations and technologies become available, the dental implants process can be expected to continually improve. Here are some of the possible changes the procedure might encounter in the future:
With its ability to easily fuse with bone, titanium is the reason why dental implants are possible. With only a limited supply of titanium on the planet, it’s inevitable that our supply will eventually run low. Whether through space travel or other means, scientists are likely to find other materials that can fuse with bone. If it’s widely available, that could make the procedure exponentially more affordable.
As advancements in molecular biology are made, new ways of understanding and manipulating the growth of cells will be found. Applied to the dental implants procedure, this discovery could drastically reduce the time it takes to complete the procedure. Perhaps with enough progress in speeding up the fusing process, the time will come where complete dental implants can be placed in a single sitting.
How many years will elapse before dental implants are part of a kit you can take home, and simply snap them into your corresponding sockets? As of now, the procedure is safe and reliable but still requires two sessions to insert the fixture, abutment, and crown. A dependable take home dental implant kit could make implants approachable for a wide range of people while eliminating surgery time.
In the same way that televisions used to cost thousands of dollars, dental implants will eventually be mastered to a point where they’re a commonplace procedure. Since everyone agrees that it’s the superior method of replacing teeth, the other methods may fade away as obsolete as dental implants become the standard. With everyone able to reap the benefits of high-quality dental implants, their ability to eat well will increase, ultimately resulting in a higher life expectancy for the entire population.
A native of Montreal, Dr. K. Ashraf has traveled the world perfecting his knowledge of dental implant surgery. From Las Vegas to Shanghai, China, Dr. K. Ashraf has earned all the necessary credentials to effectively undertake dental implant surgery at his office in Waterloo, Ontario. If you’re missing teeth and think dental implants may be right for you, contact Dr. K. Ashraf to find out.