Evolution of Dental Implants
It’s easy to take for granted the many treatments we have available to us today, both in the dental world specifically, and in the medical world in general. Simply put, there are things we can do today with medicine that we could not do even a short time ago. That means countless people are able to receive relief from their symptoms when those same people would have been left to suffer in previous generations. It is a great thing, to be sure.
One area where tremendous development and advancement can be seen is in the world of dental implants1. Today, a patient can opt for a dental implant as an excellent replacement for a natural tooth which has been lost. Not surprisingly, this procedure was not always so commonplace, and it was not always as successful as it is these days. In this post, we are going to take a look at the way dental implants have evolved throughout history.
Not a New Concept
Given the lack of oral health care available throughout most of human history, tooth loss was relatively common in centuries gone by. When a tooth was lost due to decay or some form of accident, it was most likely not going to be replaced. However, there is archeological evidence of tooth implants dating back more than a thousand years, although the implants used would not resemble anything you see today. Objects like seashells were used in an attempt to fill the opening that the missing tooth had left. While little information about these early dental implants is available, it seems to be a safe bet that they were not particularly effective. With that said, putting the idea into action certainly helped to set the stage for where we are today.
A Huge Step Forward
In order for a dental implant to be successful, the material implanted in the jaw needs to fuse properly with the surrounding bone. That concept is the basis for what is happening with a dental implant – the implant is going to become one with the jawbone, forming a secure relationship that will allow a tooth to be put in place. Without that successful bond between the jawbone and the implant, the procedure simply wouldn’t work as it does today.
To get an implant to fuse with the bone, that implant needs to be made of the right material, and a huge breakthrough in the 1950s uncovered one such material that could fit the bill – titanium. As it turns out, titanium tends to do an excellent job of fusing to bone, a discovery which has allowed many modern treatments to be possible. A successful fusion is never guaranteed when a dental implant is attempted, but success rates are very impressive thanks to the use of titanium.
A Smaller Step
So, the discovery that titanium fuses nicely to bone was a big moment in the history of dental implants (although the discovery at the time had nothing to do with dental implants). A smaller moment that has proven to be quite important was the discovery that a rough titanium surface tends to bond quicker – and much more securely – than a smooth surface. When a rough titanium surface is used for the implant, the bonding process is usually completed faster. This is great news for patients who no longer need to wait so long for their implants to be secure.
Continuing to Shrink the Timeline
Using an implant that leads to a faster fusion is a great step, but that still didn’t lead to the immediate results that are so often available today. Traditionally, the process was to have the implant put in place without a tooth on top, while waiting for the fusion to take place in the jawbone. Once the bond had successfully been formed, the tooth would be placed, and the process would be finished. Only at that point would the patient be able to begin enjoying the benefits of having the work completed. This system worked fine, but it was rather time consuming.
Today, many patients are candidates for immediate loading, meaning the replacement tooth can be placed the same day that the implant is set into the jawbone. Obviously, this is appealing for patients, as they are able to enjoy an improved smile and improved function without having to wait. It should be highlighted that immediate loading is not possible in all cases, so each patient needs to work with his or her dentist to determine the best course of action.
A Variety of Options
In the modern world of dental implants, there are many possibilities that can be brought to life depending on the needs of the patient. It is no longer the case that a single dental implant is put into place onto to support a single tooth. Instead, implants can be used for a number of different purposes, including as support for dental bridges which can replace multiple teeth. It is up to the knowledge and experience of the dentist to determine how to best use a dental implant – or multiple implants – in order to benefit the patient. With all of these options available, and the modern pain management techniques to go along with them, it’s safe to say that there has never been a better time in human history to need a dental implant.
As you can see, there has been an incredible amount of progress with regard to dental implants in a relatively short amount of time. The dental implants available today are high-tech marvels, capable of providing patients with excellent function, great aesthetics, and impressive durability. To learn more about how dental implants may be able to improve your oral health, please contact the office at Spokane Dental right away. We’ll be happy to discuss options with you and book an appointment2. We appreciate your visit to our blog and hope to see you soon!