Dental implants are at the forefront of dental prosthetics and oral rehabilitation in the 21st century. Implants have increased the treatment possibilities for countless patients and enhanced the functional outcomes of their treatment. Patients who previously had to compromise their chewing functionality, nutritional intake, and esthetic appearance due to partial or incomplete tooth loss can now be restored to different extents of normal function and esthetics.
The history of dental implants
Humanity has been looking for ways to replace lost teeth for thousands of years. Ancient cultures of the world, including China, Turkey, Honduras, and Egypt, among others, substituted missing dentition with stones, ivory, shells, and other animal or human teeth. Actually, the first evidence of implant use dates back to 600AD in the Mayan population, which was found by archeologists, Dr. and Mrs. Wilson Popenoe in 1931 in Honduras.
The use of metal replacements for missing teeth is a rather recent development. In the early 1800s, attempts made at implanting natural teeth from another individual’s mouth resulted in much infection and rejection by the host. Still in the early and mid 1800s, surgeons started to use silver, gold, lead, and platinum molded into different forms with varying levels of success. A gold implant was first used in 1809 by Maggiolo, and was placed into a fresh extraction socket, to which he bonded a tooth after a given healing period.
Similar attempts were made with different materials. Dr. Edmunds, for instance, was the first person in the US to implant a platinum disc into a patient’s jawbone and then attach a porcelain crown to it. He presented his discovery at the first District Dental Society of New York in 1886. Later, Dr. Harris, a physician, attempted the same procedure as Dr. Maggiolo using a platinum post instead of a gold post to which he attached porcelain teeth, but with little success.
Starting in the 20th century, more familiar implant morphologies started to be developed. In 1940, Dahl created the subperiosteal implant - a structure designed to rest on the jaw (not in the jaw). These types of implants were, unfortunately, met with numerous complications including bone resorption and infection.
To address this, Dr. Leonard Linkow came up with a blade fixture for areas with insufficient bone. An abutment was directly bonded to the flat blade with one end protruding from the tissue. But the blade design eventually became unfavorable owing to its high complication rate.
So, the blade fixture was replaced by the root form implant, which is actually the current standard shape.
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