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Dental Implant History

Updated on April 30, 2012
these dental implants are more advanced than early attempts
these dental implants are more advanced than early attempts

Although dental implants are usually considered to be a modern phenomenon, the very first examples of dental implants were discovered in the body of an ancient Mayan woman, in 1931 during an archaeological dig. Although very rudimentary, it was discovered, on close examination, that small pieces of shell had been placed into the gaps where her missing teeth were. Scientists were unable though, to discover whether these had been placed pre or post mortem. The likelihood though is that were placed following her death in order to prepare her for her next life. In reality, pieces of shell would have been very ineffective for eating. Other similar finds have been found during digs, sometimes using small stones instead of the pieces of shell.

Although there are other similar examples throughout history, using a variety of materials, the big advance in dental implants came during the 1950s when Dr Brånemark, a Swedish scientist, discovered that titanium was the perfect material to use. The discovery, however, was accidental and only came about when he tried to remove titanium rods that had been placed into a rabbit. Because the material was expensive he tried to remove it in order to re-use it, but found it almost impossible to remove. On closer inspection, he discovered that the rods had actually fused with the bone.

He followed this discovery up with a number of experiments which proved his hypothesis that bone indeed, would fuse with titanium. After several successful attempts he confirmed this and named the process 'osseointegration'.

This procedure was refined and tested on both animals and humans and gradually became widely used in medical procedures and in 1952, the very first human dental implant procedure was successfully performed.

Of course, since then, the procedure has been refined even further and many that have had the dental implants procedure in Hanwell have stated that, despite the fact that they are placed directly into the jaw, there is no pain felt although some noted a vibrating sensation from the drill. Hopefully, this will encourage those who have been deterred by the somewhat painful sounding procedure, and in fact, despite how it may sound, the bone in the jaw has very few nerves indeed which is why not pain is felt. Of course, the whole procedure is also done under a local anaesthetic too.

So, by a purely accidental discovery, dental science has been able to introduce an excellent procedure that can replace a lost tooth and will last for a good twenty years or more.


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