The origin of dental implants |

The origin of dental implants

About the AUthors

Drs. Dan Martin and Rachel Appelblatt at Tahoe Oral Surgery and Implant Center are your local dental implant and oral surgery specialists. They are experienced and board certified oral surgeons who specialize in customer care using state-of-the art equipment and techniques. If you have any questions or concerns about oral surgery or dental implants, please don’t hesitate to contact them at

Dental implants are the most successful solution for replacing missing teeth. With ever improving advances in technologies and techniques oral surgeons see as high as a 97 percent success rate. Dental implants are proving again and again to be a reliable solution to restore smiles, regain the ability to chew and enjoy food, prevent the loss of bone, and support surrounding teeth.

However, modern dental implants didn’t simply emerge. Instead, this advanced smile-saving solution stems from a long and interesting history of extremely different materials and techniques dating back to early humankind.

Historically Speaking

Along with early humankind came the need for tooth replacement. Whether through accident or tooth decay, humans have sought to replace lost teeth over the millennia. Though modern implant technology is formally attributed to scientific discoveries after the 1950’s, archaeological discoveries proved that a wide variety of materials and techniques have been used throughout the world dating as far back as 2500 BC.

Early Human Use

2500 BC – The Egyptians used gold wire to stabilize loose or damaged teeth

500 BC – The Etruscans used carved animal bone to replace missing teeth, and the Phoenicians used gold wire to stabilize damaged teeth

600 AD – The Mayans used pieces of seashell as crude implants to replace missing teeth

800 AD – Early Honduran culture began to use stone implants placed in the mandible

Early Implants Come to Light

1700 AD – J. Hunter successfully transplanted a tooth from one human to another

1809 – J. Maggiolo performed what is considered the first dental implant placement by using a gold tube

1913 – J. Greenfield surgically placed gold cylinders into the jaw to function as artificial roots

The Next Steps in Implant Discovery

1930s – A & M Strock placed vitallium screws in humans and dogs, similar to the “post” in a modern dental implant

1938 – The Cylindrical Endosseous Implant is patented by PB Adams

1940s – The Post-type end osseous implant is developed by M. Formiggini and F. Zepponi

1952 – Osseointegration is discovered by Per-Ingvar Brånemark – this is the first time the implants were observed integrating into bone and the beginning of modern dental implants.

Implant Innovation

1960s – The Double-Helical threaded implant is developed by R. Chercheve in France

1965 – The first Titanium implants are used for a full-mouth rehabilitation

1998 – All-on-4 treatment is introduced, reducing the number of implants needed for full-arch replacement

2005 – The first 3D treatment planning and guided surgery is introduced

The advancement and development of modern dental implants comes from a rich historical journey. With purpose and human ingenuity, materials from gold ligature wire, shells, ivory to chromium, cobalt, to iridium and platinum were manipulated, placed, and tested throughout time to restore tooth function. And, with the diligence, willingness, and expertise of some, the current dental implant technology was born.

The Future of Dental Implants

While dental implants are currently the best choice, we are excited about advances that promise to improve the replacement of teeth in the future. As we have seen with other medical and technological advancements, we can make projections about what may happen in the years to come with dental implants, including the possibility of:

Expedited healing time

Improvement in implant success rate

3-D printing

Reduction of procedure cost

Increased coverage by insurance companies

More precision in treatment planning

Advancing stem cell techniques to “grow” new teeth, bone, and gum tissue

The unfortunate reality of accidents, cavities, and gum disease will continue to result in loss of teeth. Throughout history, the desire to restore smiles and the ability to eat has pushed improvement in technologies to replace lost teeth. From wire ligatures, to human tooth transplants, to successes in osseointegration, dental implants have a long history born from this desire. While important to recognize the history dental implants and how far we’ve come, our specialty continues to charge ahead to improve tooth replacement for everyone.

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