Over 1,200 years ago, the Mayans created and implemented the first known implant to be bedded directly in bone. These early implants were made out of seashells. Today, a dental implant is inserted into your mouth by fitting a tiny titanium post into the jaw and allowing the bone to fuse with the implant. Over thousands years of its existence in medicine and dentistry, dental implants have certainly changed dramatically.

Implants are designed to look and work just like your other teeth but don’t chew as well as your natural choppers because they lack a key ligament. However, since they look and act just like real teeth, your smile will be unaffected by the dental addition.

An implant in dentistry is most often used to support jaw and tooth structure when there has been damage. For instance, a dental implant can keep the teeth on either side of a gap from a missing tooth from caving in on either side. This is particularly important when more than one tooth is missing in any given gap. Sometimes, too, dental implants are used specifically to make way for further dental work that is required. Most of the time, getting dentures requires some sort of dental implant.

What we know of the Mayan civilization using dental implants all comes from the remains of a young woman who was found in 1931 and dates all the way back to 600 AD. Among the bones found was a piece of jaw that had three specifically shaped shells directly embedded in the bone.

It took several decades for archaeologists to realize that the shells were not placed in the jaw after death but beforehand when the woman was alive. This means that the Mayans were able to craft their own implants and surgically embed them in bone. A truly amazing feat though the success of the treatment is, and probably always will be, unknown.

Over a thousand years later, in 1952, an orthopedic surgeon from Sweden named Brånemark made the next big advance in dental implants when he began experimenting with fusing titanium to bone. The discovery of titanium’s ability to fuse with bone happened by accident but further studies concluded Brånemark’s original assumptions.

He proposed his discovery be used in hip surgery but the medical community preferred it in dental surgery. Though other people used his technique, Brånemark himself didn’t place a titanium dental implant until the mid 1960s, more than a decade after he first made the discovery.

Though Brånemark started his discoveries in the 1950s, it wasn’t until the early 1980s that his ideas were used commercially. The company he sold his patents to has now placed millions of implants in patients around the world. His discoveries still have modern influence and it extends beyond dentistry and the dental implant to other fields of medicine as well.

Elaine is a dental assistant for a sedation dentist with over 15 years of of experience in the field.

Original Source: Enzine Articles