What is a dental implant?

In the last quarter of the century the dentistry industry changed significantly because of dental implants. Why is that? What is the history of dental implants? And most importantly what are dental implants? This article will answer these questions and more. But first a bit of history.

Dental implants history

Dental implants existed a long time ago, maybe longer than hundreds of years, some say thousands. They were a lot different from the modern implants which have been in use since the 1970s, and were of course, a lot less successful. In 600 A.D., archaeologists discovered skulls with teeth replacements in the area of the former Mayan civilization. Those were simple implants done with sharpened stones or seashells. Even though they were primitive, some of them were even fused to the jaw. Dental implants in the beginning were used to help people who had lost almost all or all of their teeth, along with parts of their jawbones, which made it very difficult to tolerate and stabilize the dentures. Todays’ implants come in all different shapes and sizes and can replace any number of teeth we want to replace.

What is a dental implant?

Modern dental implants, like the majority of procedures in the dentistry field and medicine, are possible thanks to the involvement of discovery science, research, trials and clinical practice. Although a simple procedure, dental implants do require a great deal of expertise. Only an expert in oral surgery and restoration will be able to properly carry out such treatment.
A dental implant, contrary to what some people think, is not the tooth replacement in itself, but a root replacement for the tooth. Just like the roots of the teeth, the dental implants are inserted surgically into the jawbone and are not visible after that.
Thanks to the dental implant, the crown, bridgework or dentures can be secured. For the dental implant, or any other implant, not to be rejected by the body, it must be biocompatible. Biocompatibility in dental implants is guaranteed thanks to the use of a light, strong metal called titanium. Titanium in medicine is not only used in the dentistry field, but also in orthopaedics for bone implants and joint replacements. However, among all titanium implants it is the dental implants which are the safest, and have the highest success rate.

Why titanium?

This is because of osseointegration – special properties making bone fusion possible. The term osseointegration comes from Osseo, which means bone, and integration, which of course stands for fusing. This biological compatibility gives the dental implants a biological basis, making them so successful. This biocompatibility is absolutely essential because when a person loses a tooth, the bone which supported this tooth is also lost.

Dental implants advantages

Thanks to the dental implant placement, the bone is stabilized preventing loss. Furthermore, it not only helps to replace the tooth, but also maintains the whole jawbone and its shape, and as a result, supports the whole facial bone structure. Thanks this, implants also indirectly support the soft tissue structures, the gums, cheeks and lips. All of this directly affects the patient’s eating, chewing, talking and smiling, all the while maintaining a natural look. As a result dental implants can have a great impact on the patient’s physical and psychological health.

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