A Little History of Dental Implants

From Bamboo Pegs To Gold To Titanium

Ancient China should be credited for using carved bamboo pegs as replacements for missing teeth, some 4,000 years ago. The first recorded case of a metal replacement tooth being fixed to a jawbone was discovered in a mummified Egyptian king of 3,000 years back. He had a copper peg in his upper jaw bone. While some 2,300 years ago, a tooth made of iron was found among real teeth in a Celtic grave in France.

The discoveries may be the first evidence of dental implants in antiquity, though they must have been placed in the jaws after the persons died.

From 1,000 to 2000 years ago, archeologists found skulls where teeth have been replaced with different material types – from jade to sea shells, even animal teeth. In some cases the replacement tooth has even fused with the jawbone. It was only in the 18th century when gold and alloys were experimented on but yielded poor results. By late 19th century, putting a porcelain crown on a platinum disc was tried but again it failed. It was clear even then that for an implant to be successful it must fuse to bone. Time and again, the body was rejecting foreign materials.

The pivotal moment came in dental history when an orthopedic surgeon, Branemark, unintentionally discovered the bone-fusing properties of titanium. During a study of bone healing and regeneration, he could not remove a titanium cylinder he had placed in a rabbit femur. He continued on his research on more animals and human subjects. In 1965, he placed his first titanium dental implant into a live human volunteer.

Research and trials over decades later saw improvements of the modern dental implant. Dental implants now are composed of a high-grade titanium alloy screw, often with a roughened surface to improve its integration to bone. After a period of healing and the screw firmly fixed to the jawbone, a dental crown is then attached at the top. With proper dental care and good oral hygiene, the method has high, long-term success rates.

Ensuring Your Implant Success

Part of implant success rate is certainly the training and expertise of the dental surgeon performing the procedure. Here at Overlake Dental, you are assured of high-quality titanium screws handled best by our trained and well-experienced Dr. Young Lee, Fellow, International Academy of Dental Implantology IADI.
If you have missing teeth, come for a thorough consult with us in Bellevue, WA.