History and Benefits of Dental Implants
by Dr. Howard Kopel
The first evidence of dental implants is attributed to the Mayan population roughly around 600 AD where they excelled in utilizing pieces of shells as implants as a replacement for mandibular teeth. The first post-type endosseous implant is attributed to Formiggini (“Father of Modern Implantology”) in the 1940’s. In the ensuing decades many different materials and techniques were employed to find a predictable implant system for replacing missing teeth. In 1978, Dr. P. Brånemark presented a two-stage threaded titanium root-form implant that modern implants are based on. Finally, today our implants have special coatings that promote osseointegration with the bone they are placed in and have become a very predictable modality.
Today it is no longer necessary to have removable partial dentures and full dentures as our parents and grandparents needed after having extractions. Gone are the days that embarrassing and uncomfortable loose dentures must be endured. Drilling down perfectly good teeth to place fixed bridgework is an outdated procedure now that implants are readily available.
Here are many reasons dental implants are often the first choice and a standard of care compared to other options to restore missing or damaged teeth.
- Next best thing to healthy, natural teeth. Strong and stable, a dental implant restores a lost tooth so that it looks, feels, fits and functions like a natural tooth. Other options can lead to bone deterioration, and may interfere with eating, smiling, speaking and other activities of everyday life.
- Built to last. Dental implants are a long-term solution. Traditional, tooth-supported dental bridges only last five to seven years, and with proper care often more than 10 years, but at some point they may need to be replaced. While dental implants may need periodic adjustments, they can last a lifetime when properly placed and cared for over time.
- Enjoy life without worrying about your teeth! No need to stay home or feel uncomfortable in public, embarrassed because your smile looks different, or worrying that missing teeth will limit your ability to join in the fun or that removable dentures or tooth-supported replacement teeth will loosen or fall out when you talk, eat or laugh. Teeth restored with dental implants are teeth that let you, not your teeth, lead your life.
- Retain your natural face shape, and smile. A face without teeth can sag and appear sunken and sad. Dental implants allow you to maintain the natural shape of your face and smile.
- Protect healthy bone. Leaving empty spaces in your mouth after losing one or more teeth can lead to additional health issues, such as the loss and deterioration of some of your jawbone. When it is not being used to support a natural tooth, the jawbone deteriorates, losing its strength and firmness. Dental implants are the only dental restoration option that preserves and stimulates natural bone, actually helping to stimulate bone growth and prevent bone loss.
- Keep your teeth in your mouth – not in a cup. Dental implants allow you to keep your teeth where they belong – in your mouth. And no more worrying that your dentures might slip or fall out. Brush, floss and care for teeth that have been replaced using dental implants exactly the way you would natural teeth – in your mouth.
- Speak easy. Adjusting to removable dentures can mean struggling to pronounce everyday words. Not so with dental implants, which function like natural teeth.
- Eat your favorite foods! Taste and enjoy the foods you love without hesitation. You can bite naturally, eat virtually anything you want and, unlike removable dentures that can feel uncomfortable, you can experience the full taste of the food you eat with dental implants, too.
- Look Mom, no cavities! Cavities cannot occur in an implant-restored crown, or replacement tooth; however, you will need to visit your dentist as scheduled and clean and care for it and your gums and mouth every day, the same as you would if it were a natural tooth.
- Keep teeth in place – silently. Dentures may slip when you eat, talk, smile, laugh, kiss, yawn or cough, so that you have to “reposition” them back into place in the mouth. Dental implants are fixed in place and fuse naturally with your jawbone, meaning your replacement teeth won’t move, click or shift.
- Protect your healthy teeth. Placing a tooth-supported bridge requires grinding away the teeth on one or both sides of the missing tooth or teeth – thereby damaging healthy teeth to restore those that are missing. The modified healthy teeth are attached to, and support, the bridge. Dental implants go in the jawbone, in the spot where your missing tooth root was, without impacting healthy teeth. They also help prevent healthy, adjacent teeth from shifting as they would if an empty space were left for an extended period of time.
- More predictable than other repair and restoration methods. Dental implant treatment has a track record of reliable, long-term successful outcomes and is often considered “more predictable” than other treatments to repair or replace missing teeth, including bridgework, removable appliances and retreatment of failing root canal (endodontic) therapy.