Dental implants have travelled a long, fascinating road, like most medical history, to get where they are today. Our society is not unique in having dental implants-in fact, for thousands of years, cultures have been using them. Most of what we know about these far-gone implants and dental procedures comes from the discovery of daily life in older civilizations by historians and archaeologists. Learn more by visiting Sacramento Family & Implant Dentistry.
Writing about toothaches and some dental practise was uncovered in Ancient Egypt. They were very involved in dentistry for a society that is remembered mostly for mummification and the great pyramids. Egyptians would use a ligature wire made of gold in an attempt to stabilise teeth-a practise dating to approximately 2500 B.C! A 7,000 year-old Algerian skull with a replica tooth made of bone and an Anatolian site with calcite-made implants are other ancient finds. Some believe that after death, these ancient implants were most likely implanted so that the deceased in the afterlife would have a full set of teeth.
The Etruscans (an ancient Italian people) had a more advanced design about 2000 years later, where they would fashion gold bands around teeth to enhance oral function and stability. It was also discovered that they would fashion replacement teeth from the bones of oxen. Interestingly enough, the Phoenicians (located along the Mediterranean Sea) developed a tooth stabilisation process comparable to both the Egyptians and the Etruscans at almost the same time.
Teams of archaeologists across Europe are finding ever-older implants. Between the first and second centuries, one team found a wrought iron implant from the Roman Empire. In the mouth of a Celt, implants from the third century have been found by archaeologists working out of France. A skull exam at a burial ground in La Chene, France, found an implant that used an iron pin that screwed into the gum and held the tooth in place. It is likely that it was for aesthetics because the tooth is a central maxillary incisor. The skull in question belonged to a woman who robbed one of the Celtic elite with fine jewellery and bronze. Since a tooth commonly broken in facial trauma is the central maxillary incisor, it could have been lost in a battle or an accident. It is speculated that after seeing the gold-adorned mouths of the Etruscans on trading routes, the Celts might pick up on this practise.
Famous for their advances in mathematics, art, and writing, the Mayan civilization had dental implants somewhat different from ours. As far back as 600 A.D., archaeologists studying the skulls of Mayans found implants ranging from carved pieces of Jade to seashells as replacements. Although crude, these implants fused with the jaw bone in many instances, making them quite functional. In ancient Chinese implants that used bamboo pegs inserted into the bone, the same functionality is found. This property is the foundation for modern implants known as ‘bone joining’ or ‘osseointergration.’ Per-Ingvar Branemark, a Swedish professor / scientist working on bone regeneration in rabbits, is credited with the first discovery and documentation of this phenomenon in 1952. In an early Honduran culture dating to about 800 A.D., a dig in the 1930’s found a similar bone-joined stone implant.
The first recorded successful dental implant occurred in 1809, even with all of these early advances, although it was not a reproducible procedure. It’dn’t be until Drs. Goldber and Gershkoff will develop a functioning framework for the recording of a reproducible dental implant. Today , modern dentistry can proudly boast that there is a 98 percent success rate for dental implant procedures.