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How Have Dental Implants Changed Over Time?

Updated: Jul 29



Missing teeth are a universal problem that humans have navigated for thousands of years. Today, getting dental implants is a simple procedure, but it wasn’t always. The history of dental implants is long and it involves rabbits and bamboo pegs—an unexpected combination. Dr. Bebeau, Arizona’s leading oral surgeon at Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery of Phoenix, offers dental implants and specializes in All-on-4 implants. So, how have dental implants changed from ancient times to the present? Read on to find out!


Dental Implants in Ancient Times

Dental implants were around thousands of years ago, but they looked very different than they do today. Ancient methods of dental implants appeared in Ancient China in 2000 B.C. The most popular item to use for implants was bamboo pegs. There is even evidence that people carved them to fit their gums. As time progressed, other cultures such as Egyptians and Celtics used copper pegs, animal teeth, and even other human teeth.


It was unlikely that there were any anesthesia methods at the time but if there were, they were in short supply. Most historians believe that people placed implants after the person passed away, to avoid pain. These methods would later help modern-day dentistry advance its methods to create a sanitary, safe and lasting solution to missing teeth.


Modern Day Dental Implants

Dental implants have come a long way since they made their first debut in the world. Swedish physician Dr. Per-Ingvar Brånemark discovered that titanium fuses with the bone, creating the foundation for dentists’ implant method today known as osseointegration. During an All-on-4 procedure, four titanium screws are placed into the jawbone and an abutment piece then attaches the screws to new teeth giving you a natural appearance.


However, Brånemark’s discovery wasn’t related to dentistry, rather to how blood flow helps bones heal. While working with rabbits, Dr. Brånemark inserted a small titanium microscope in the rabbit's leg to examine the bone. When he tried to remove it, it was stuck—that’s when he discovered a method that he would later use to create dental implants. The public at the time was very skeptical because people didn’t believe that the human body could live with a man-made object in it. It wasn’t until 1965 that Brånemark performed the first implant with titanium screws.


However, the most advanced dental implant method and Dr. Bebeau’s specialty, the All-on-4 procedure, didn’t appear until the late 80s! Portuguese dentist Paulo Malo created the All-on-4 procedure while he was working at his practice in 1989. Malo helped advance dental implants by discovering that positioning two of the four titanium screws at different angles allows the implant to absorb pressure and maintain immediate stability.


The evolution of dental implants gave the ideas necessary to allow dentists today to give patients high-quality implants that last for years. Carved bamboo pegs led to custom dental implants that allow your implants to fit naturally with your teeth. The practice of using animal and other human teeth showed exceptional creativity and resourcefulness. And Dr. Brånemark’s accidental discovery was one of the biggest steps toward modern-day dental implants. As humans’ knowledge of science evolved, so did dental implants’ effectiveness.


Dental Implants in Phoenix, Arizona

Dental implants have advanced to where they are today because of their history—we hope you learned some interesting facts! If you’re considering dental implants, you can feel secure knowing that Dr. Bebeau is Arizona’s top oral surgeon with years of experience and a history of thousands of years behind the procedure.


Please contact us if you have any questions or would like more information about our services.If you’re interested in getting dental implants in Phoenix, schedule an appointment today to take the first steps to your new smile.


Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (5/25/2022). Photo by Caroline LM on Unsplash



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