The History of Dental Implants By Dr. Damon on January 03, 2019

Three dental implants with crowns on solid blue surfaceDental implants are a popular tooth replacement option. However, the implants that are in use today were developed by Dr. P I Brannenmark starting in the 1960's and came into use in USA starting in 1980. Prior to the modern "Root Form" implant we used subperiosteal implans or blade implants, these came out of favor as they were only available for patients missing all of their teeth. Did you know that centuries ago our ancestors developed primitive dental implant solutions? The history of dental implants dates back thousands of years.

Ancient Attempts at Teeth Replacement

Though our ancient ancestors may not have fully understood the health consequences of missing teeth, they still wanted to treat the condition. Take a look at some of these highlights throughout history:

  • Four thousand years ago, the Chinese used carved bamboo pegs to fill the gaps left by missing teeth.
  • Three thousand years ago, the Egyptians replaced a king’s missing tooth with a copper peg. Experts are still unsure whether the peg was placed before or after his death.
  • Beginning approximately 2,000 years ago, individuals replaced their own missing teeth with teeth from animals, slaves, or the poverty-stricken. Surprisingly, this practice continued on until the 1800s, despite serious infection issues.
  • Around 600 AD, Mayan civilizations used stones, gems, and seashells to replace missing teeth. In a 1931 archaeological dig, a female skull was discovered with a seashell partially embedded into the jawbone. This was the first record of osseointegration, the process in which the implant fuses to the bone tissue.
  • Check out ancient origins article discussing dental archelogical findings! 

1800s - 1900s

By the mid- to late-1880s, it became clear that animal or human teeth would not work as long-term teeth replacement. Doctors began the search for a safe, effective material that was biocompatible with the human body.

In 1886, a doctor mounted a porcelain crown onto a disc made of platinum. Though this was the first attempt at a standardized dental implant, the material did not fuse to the bone, and the implant was rejected by the body.

In 1913, Dr. EJ Greenfield invented an artificial tooth root made from platinum and gold. While the shape was more similar to a tooth root, the device still failed to integrate with the surrounding jawbone.

During this time, other attempts were made using a variety of metal alloys. Unfortunately, all of them failed.

Brånemark’s Unintentional Discovery

In the 1960s, Dr. Per Ingvar Brånemark, a Swedish physician, was conducting an experiment on bone regeneration. One day, he noticed that a titanium rod had completely fused to the femur of one of his subjects. This simple, unintentional discovery led to the most important turning point in the history of dental implants: osseointegration.

In 1965, Brånemark placed the first successful dental implant in a human volunteer. And the rest, as they say, is history.


Coming to America! 

PI Branemark, presented his findings and decade of success in treating missing teeth with dental implants in Toronto in 1980. After this meeting Dental Implants became a treatment option for patients in the USA. Other major advancements in dental implant technology:

  • Improved surface morphology aids in immideate implant placement and increased primary stability
  • Protocols in Immeidate Loading - ie immediate teeth!
  • CAD - CAM technology with guided surgical techniques
  • Zygomatic dental implants
  • All on Four Protocol
  • Trefoil Implant Concept. 

Modern Advances in Dental Implantology

Even now, researchers are working to make dental implants even more reliable and successful.

To aid the osseointegration process, the surfaces of the implant posts are often roughened using sandblasting or acid etching techniques. This creates micropores in the implant and allows bone tissue to grow into these areas, creating optimal stability.

Contact Us Today

Fortunately, we have come a long way from hammering copper pegs or seashells into the jawbone. If you are in search of a dependable tooth replacement option, consider dental implants. To learn more, or to schedule an appointment, call us at (806) 803-9219 or contact us online anytime.

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