History of dental implants

Brief History of Dental Implants

One of the things that we take for granted in life are our teeth, especially when we are young. It is not until we lose our teeth that we realise how important they were and for many people, they think back with hindsight, that they should have taken better care of their teeth. Tooth loss causes not only functional and aesthetic problems but can affect people emotionally and socially.

The impacts of tooth loss:

  1. Decrease in eating, chewing and biting abilities, lower enjoyment in eating and taste.
  2. Feeling uncomfortable, reduced general happiness and health, appetite and weight.
  3. It adversely affects people's social relationships by altering the way we interact with people through our smiles and laughter, mood, speech, and confidence. As a result some people can become more withdrawn and isolated.

Since ancient times, people have sought to find suitable replacements for lost teeth. This ranges from replacement of extracted teeth with carved seashells, ivory and rubber. Furthermore, porcelain, gold wire and plates were used to construct crowns and fixed bridgework. Between these early attempts at tooth replacement and modern techniques, dental implants as we know today were developed.

Vintage Compass and Magnifying Glass Next to a World Map

Early Days

The first generations of dental implants that had any kind of a reproducible success rate was the subperiosteal implants designed in the 1940's by Dahl in Sweden. Dahl’s work was then carried on by Gershkoff and Goldberg as well as Weinberg in the United States in the late 1940s.

The subperiosteal implant design was then further researched by Lew, Bausch, and Berman in 1950. This type of implant was a framework, placed underneath the gum flap, which allowed it to sit flush with the bone without being placed into the jaw bone. This technique appeared promising in the early days, but subsequent research into the longevity of these implants showed it was highly susceptible to failure, due to the way in which the implants were anchored.

Lew in 1953 showed that after five years these implants had a 95% success rate, however, Bodine's research in 1974 revealed that after 12 years there was only a 50% success rate. Compared with the success rate today with the endosseous (implants placed in the jaw bone) implants approaching the high 90%, clinicians started to question whether this type of implant should still be used at all. The use of this type of implant then started to decline and at present endosseous implants dominate the market.
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