Dental implants seem like a modern innovation when you think about it. But nothing’s farther from the truth. This history and evolution of dental implants show it goes back to ancient civilizations. Of course, as time passed, the types of dental implant materials and dental implant procedures changed. But despite the years, it still holds as one of the world’s most crucial dental innovation.
From bamboo pegs to copper, to tooth implants, we’ve gone through different types of dental implants before perfecting the dental restoration. And each iteration has its own reasons for being, be it the lack of technology or the available materials of the time. It’s nonetheless interesting to look back at everything that’s brought dental implants to where they are.
That said, let’s take a quick glance at the history and evolution of dental implants.
The first dental implants were made of bamboo, copper, and other teeth
As with any dental milestone, the types of dental implant materials and dental implant procedures weren’t so savory. Nor safe. In ancient China, people used bamboo pegs to replace missing teeth. To install them, you had to tap the bolt into the bone. You could imagine how excruciatingly painful this was. Nonetheless, they are considered the first people to use dental implants.
2000 years later, the ancient Egyptians used a similar method. Instead of bamboo, they carved teeth out of metal, such as copper. This was also tapped into the bone. Thanks to the study of some mummies, however, archaeologists found other ivory teeth and the teeth of other humans transplanted into the jawbone. One could assume that the Egyptians were the first to utilize the human tooth transplant widely. Some still debate whether these transplants were done before or after death. So this is still a point of argument.
Eventually, tooth transplants became the norm until the 18th century. The human teeth used ranged from people who sold their teeth to that of cadavers. And in the absence of human teeth, animal teeth would be used instead. This was, however, as hygienic or as safe as you’d think it to be. People with tooth implants were prone to diseases, which sometimes proved fatal. Dentists, as the history and evolution of dental implants show, looked to other means to replace their patients’ missing teeth.
Dental implants as we know it
How, then, did we get from bamboo pegs to the dental implants that we know now? According to the history and evolution of dental implants, it started with metal posts. At the time, dentists in the 18th to 19th century experimented with metal alloy posts, which would be inserted into the jawbone. However, none of the metals were compatible with the jawbone, so they did not hold for long.
One physician, however, found that titanium can successfully integrate with the bone. Per-Ingvar Brånemark successfully implanted a titanium implant in a human, changing the dental landscape as we know it.
Until now, titanium is the number one option among the types of dental implant materials. And no longer do you have to slog through someone hammering in a tooth replacement into your jawbone. Anesthesia and a better dental implant procedure make the experience less traumatizing. So while getting an implant is nerve-wracking, it only takes a quick look through the history and evolution of dental implants to realize it isn’t too bad.