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The History and Evolution of Dental Implant Technology

Dental implant technology has evolved significantly, and today’s implants are stable, long-lasting and comfortable. But they weren’t always this successful. Have you ever wondered about how modern day implants came to be? Here, trusted Orlando oral surgeon Dr. Ronald Trevisani shares the evolution of dental implants.

Primitive Forms of Tooth Replacement

Civilizations have been dealing with tooth loss for thousands of years. The earliest known “dental implants” were in fact fragments of seashells and carved stones, which the ancient Mayans (dating back to 600 A.D.) used to embed in their jaws to replace teeth. Archaeologists have found proof that these shells and stones sometimes “fused” to the jawbone to provide a stable foundation for chewing.

Various Designs and Frameworks

In the years following World War II, two dentists sought a tooth replacement solution to people that could not tolerate conventional dentures. Dr. Norman Goldberg and Dr. Aaron Gershkoff began to collaborate on the first successful sub-periosteal implant, which was placed underneath a flap in the gums in contact with the jawbone (but not implanted into the bone). Complications were common with these types of implants and studies showed low survival rates. The doctors formed the foundation of the American Academy of Implant Dentistry.

In the late 1960s, Dr. Irwin Small developed the transosseous implant, in which a flat bone plate was placed under the skin against the inside of the mouth, and attached to the other side with posts threaded through the bone. Complications were common and the surgical placement was lengthy and invasive.

Next, Dr. Leonard Linkow developed the “blade implant” or endosseus implant. This implant involved attaching a large blade with grooves to the jawbone to act as an anchor for dentures or another dental prosthesis. The endosseus implant did not have a high success rate and was known to cause infection.

A Significant Discovery

Right around this time, a significant discovery was made. Most of what makes dental implants so successful is a concept known as osseointegration — a process in which bone fuses to titanium. We have a Swedish orthopedic surgeon to thank for that. Dr. Per-Ingvar Brånemark, who is known as the father of the modern dental implant, made the breakthrough discovery that titanium has a property which allows it to fuse with bone. In the midst of research studies, he realized he could not remove a small titanium cylinder that he had placed in a bone to study how the bone healed.

Dr. Brånemark treated the first titanium dental implant patient in the mid-1960s. He fought for recognition and inclusion of his concept in the scientific and academic communities. Finally, in the 1990s, his techniques earned the recognition they deserved.

Modern day implants are crafted with high quality materials and placed by experienced oral surgeons like Dr. Trevisani. When cared for properly, implants have a very high survival rate with minimal complications.

Learn More about Dental Implants

If you are interested in restoring your smile with dental implants, please schedule an informational consultation with Dr. Trevisani today. Call or email our office to make your appointment.