November 9, 2022

Why Were Dental Implants Invented? A Helpful Guide

Dental implants are a significant feature of modern-day living. However, it’s surprising to discover that our ancient history records the use of shells, iron and even carved bamboo pegs, which helped recreate a perfect smile for our ancestors. 

As experienced dentists at the Brisbane Next Smile™ centre, our cutting-edge All-on-4® methods are taking dental implant technology and its invention into the future. But what about our past? 

Dental implants in modern times were invented as an alternative for those who have lost teeth or failing teeth as an alternative to false teeth and dentures. Dentures can also be uncomfortable and ill-fitting. Additionally, they have a more realistic and natural look.

So that we can understand a little more easily why dental implants were invented, let’s start by finding out exactly what they are. 

What Are Dental Implants?

Losing a tooth or even those failing not only seriously affects how you eat and speak but can also have a lasting impact on your confidence. 

Dental implants consist of titanium screws that act as a replacement for the root of the missing tooth. It provides an anchor upon which a false tooth (sometimes called a denture or a crown) is attached. 

The dental implant will be a similar shape, size and colour to the rest of your teeth to give a natural-looking smile. 

Over time, the bone grows over the screw, which holds it in place and then the replacement teeth are attached using a metal connector. This is often achieved with a bone graft. 

The All-on-4® method for dental implants 

However, there are now pioneering methods that our trained and experienced dentists here at Next Smile™ Brisbane can provide. The All-on-4@ method offers dental implants without requiring invasive bone graft treatment. 

Compared to the older techniques of providing dental implants, this innovative method reduces the need for the number of implants required, reduces the need for a bone graft, and makes maintenance and cleaning easier.  

How long do dental implants last? 

The good news is that with a little TLC, including thorough brushing, flossing and a good oral hygiene regime, dental implants can last many years, if not a lifetime. 

So it’s not a surprise to discover that according to studies on the effectiveness of dental implants, 82% of patients will not suffer complications or follow-on work carried out for up to 16 years after having a dental implant. 

Crowns will need replacing between 10 and 15 years due to normal wear and tear, such as chewing. 

To keep dental implants looking and performing at their very best, it’s essential to have regular dental checkups and have them professionally cleaned. 

So, find out more about the history of dental implants below. 

history of dental implants

The History of Dental Implants

It’s fascinating to discover that way back at quite literally the dawn of time, ancient Chinese civilisations were performing dentistry. 

Around 2000 BC, carved bamboo pegs were used to replace their citizens' missing teeth and were the early forerunners of the dental implants used in more recent times. 

Ancient dental implant history 

Although we might think that dentistry is a skill developed in more modern times, it’s quite astonishing to realise that ancient civilisations such as the Egyptians had already beaten us to it! 

Back in this bygone era, circa 1000 BC, there is evidence that an Egyptian King sported a copper replacement tooth.

It’s unclear whether it was a feature of his life or was added after his death, but excavations revealed his upper jawbone showed a hammered-in copper tooth. 

Other archeologists in France similarly discovered a grave from around 300 BC  with a false tooth hammered into the jaw of its dweller. 

This time, made of iron, experts believe this would have been most likely added after death. This would be mainly for its aesthetics, as historians revealed that the pain would have been simply unbearable if the iron had been added during the owner's lifetime. 

What was generally used as implant material? 

Any matter derived from other humans or animals is known as homoplastic (humans) and heteroplastic (animals).

However, back in ancient times, it was common to use the teeth of other humans and animals to replace the missing teeth of those in their communities. 

With these kinds of ancient dental implants, there is a higher risk of the implant becoming rejected and a higher probability of infection. 

Along with shells, rocks and teeth from local humans and animals, these ancient dental surgeons were also known to have used rarer gems such as jade as dental implants. 

According to research by Celeste M Abraham in The Open Dentistry Journal, the Mayans were influential and innovative in dental implants and as we understand them today. 

The Mayans 

The first evidence of the Mayans introducing dental implants was circa 600 AD, when they used parts of shells to provide a replacement for mandibular (lower) teeth.

According to the same fascinating studies, natural stone was used in mandible and jaw areas of those from the early Honduran culture. 

In 800 AD, this resourceful and advanced civilisation used many naturally found minerals, and other scavenged finds to bring back a smile to their communities. 

history of dental implants

The Bone Formation Used in Modern Dentistry 

In extraordinary evidence from radiographs taken back in the seventies, their jaws displayed the type of bone formation that looks very similar to blade implants used in modern dentistry. 

A blade implant has two flat metal prongs on one side where they are placed specifically in the jaw to support crowns, bridges and other dental implants. 

Centuries later, these humble beginnings in the history of dental implants would help shape the modern techniques used in modern dentistry. 

Modern Implants 

Per-Ingvar Branemark was the inventor of modern-day dental implants as we now more easily understand them. 

His study of rabbits’ blood flow led to this dental breakthrough as he discovered that the titanium chambers he had placed had become fused with the rabbit's bones. 

After two years of research, he was ready to try his findings out on humans.

Gosta Larson was his first volunteer in 1965, who had missing teeth due to significant deformities in his jaw and chin. During the process, he placed four implants in the lower jaw area. The implant took six months to fuse with the patient’s bone properly and lasted an incredible 40 years.

The Future of Dental Implants

With the significant leaps and bounds made in implant procedures from proper treatment, prosthetics and advanced surgical procedures, dental implants are future-ready. 

With advances in medical science and computer technology, the failure rate for dental implants is becoming less and less as treatment becomes more effective. 

Recent dental implant success rates for bridges, root canals and crowns have a healthy 80% success rate, thanks to the advances made on Branemark’s findings. 

However, the future of dental implants has significantly progressed with the advent of state-of-the-art procedures such as the All-on-4® method. The success rate using this groundbreaking method has increased to an impressive 98%. 

In Summary

For anyone who wanted to learn about the history of dental implants and why they were invented, we hope you’ve found your answers!

Next Smile™ is a group of dental centres around Australia specialising in the All-on-4® method.

If you would like your personal situation to be assessed or would like any more information about the All-on-4® method for dental implants, get in touch today for an informal conversation with one of our friendly team.