How Dental Implants and Osseointegration Were Discovered
Dental treatments and technology have evolved considerably over the history of mankind because dental pain occurred very frequently. The most common dental treatment was to remove the painful tooth or teeth. That, eventually led to problems eating. The most long-term successful treatment used today to replace missing teeth is dental implants. They’ve been dreamed about for thousands of years, but only became predictably successful more recently.
The Origins and History of Dental Implants
According to written records, the Chinese replaced missing teeth with bamboo pegs over four thousand years ago. This was followed by an Egyptian pharaoh having a copper peg inserted into his jawbone to replace a missing tooth. These are amongst the earliest documented instances of dental implant attempts. Even though history has given them credit for innovative thinking, human biology always rejected these attempts.
It wasn’t until 1952 that a Swedish orthopedic surgeon, Per-Ingvar Brånemark, had a breakthrough discovery which led to the first, successful, long-term dental implants. At the time, Brånemark was conducting a study of healing in living bone. He made optical chambers, which are cylinders made of titanium, closed with glass on either end, through which he could watch living bone heal inside the chambers. At the conclusion of the experiments, the titanium cylinders could not be removed. He then realized that what had occurred on the outside of the cylinder-bone interface might be of greater importance than what happened within the cylinders.
This led to the discovery of a process which had never occurred before: living bone biologically grew onto an inanimate material called titanium. The living bone fused onto the titanium surface, in a process Brånemark called osseointegration. Dr. Per-Ingvar Brånemark is credited as the innovator of the first modern, successful dental implants. He continued his research in animals from 1952 till 1965, and he proved it was predictably successful. In 1965, he successfully placed titanium dental implants in the first human jawbone, which held functioning teeth for the rest of that patient’s life, which lasted another 40 years.
The Osseointegration Breakthrough
There is no doubt that Brånemark’s discovery and subsequent work in the dental implant realm proved a turning point for both modern dentistry and the field of orthopedics. Since 1965, dental implants and osseointegration have become the treatment of choice for people with missing teeth. Regardless of whether you lose a tooth due to an accident or periodontal disease, dental implants act as the most nature-mimicking replacement, both in appearance of natural teeth while solidly anchored to the bone.
Today, the procedure for placing dental implants is extremely safe and straightforward. You don’t face any major discomfort or pain during or after the procedure and the recovery time is short as well. Today, modern dental implants and osseointegration have become the ‘go to’ option for people suffering from tooth loss.