A Dental Assistanta��s Guide to the Evolution of Dental Implants

Dental assistant training

A dental implant is a surgical component that goes into the jaw and then attaches to a dental prosthesis such as a crown, bridge or denture.

Ita��s pretty safe to say that in todaya��s day and age, therea��s a lot of stigma attached to having missing teetha��nobody really wants to walk around with a gap in their smile. Todaya��s dentists consider dental implants to be the most advanced and effective solution for missing teeth and many of them boast a 97% long-term success rate. Patients benefit from dental implants because they:

  • Restore their smile and confidence
  • Give back their ability to chew properly
  • Support surrounding teeth

Although the procedures and materials have improved significantly over time, humans inventing ways to replace missing teeth is a phenomenon that dates back thousands of years. Leta��s take a look at some of the first attempts at creating dental implants, as well as major developments in the industry that have made dental implants what they are today!

Historical Evidence of Ancient Dental Implants

Back before established dentistry or dental hygienist training, people used all sorts of materials in order to have a full smile. One of the first examples found by archeologists dates back 4000 years, where in ancient China, people used bamboo pegs to replace missing teeth.

  • One of the first examples of a prosthesis being fixed into bone was found on the remains of an Egyptian king, who 3000 years ago had a copper peg hammered into his upper jawbone. Experts believe the procedure took place after his death, to fill out his smile.
  • Ancient Egyptian dynasties performed tooth implantation prior to mummification using teeth carved out of ivory or precious metals. Sometimes they also used animal teeth.
  • At a site that dates back to 600AD, archaeologists discovered the remains of a Mayan woman who had three teeth replaced by shaped pieces of shell. There was bone growth around the implants which proved that they were functional.

Breakthroughs that Led to Successful Long-term Dental Implants

Fast forward to the eighteenth century, where researchers began experimenting with gold and other alloys, but were still having poor results. In 1886, a doctor tried mounting a porcelain crown on a platinum disc, but this prosthesis didna��t last very long.

The issue over time was always that the human body and bones reject foreign materials. The goal with a successful dental implant is that the replacement tooth lasts a long time by fusing to the bone. Students pursuing dental assistant training will learn about this process, called osseointegration.

It was discovered (by accident!) that titanium had special osseointegration properties in 1952, when an orthopedic surgeon tried to remove a titanium cylinder from a rabbit femur during a study of bone healing and regeneration. The bone had grown in such close proximity to the titanium piece that they had actually fused together. In 1965, the first titanium dental implant was performed on a human subject.

What materials do you think will be used by dental assistants to create dental implants 20 years from now?

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