What Are Dental Implants

After remarkable advances in dentistry in recent years, dental implants have become a treatment of choice for people missing one, a few, or all of their teeth, and for those with failing teeth or severe periodontal disease. Dental implants look and perform more like natural teeth. They are rooted in the bone, there is no artificial plastic on the roof of the mouth, and the need for adhesives and denture creams is eliminated. More importantly, the use of dental implants does not impact healthy, adjacent teeth.

Dental implants are long-lasting tooth root replacements that oral surgeons implant into the jawbone to simulate the root of a pre-existing tooth. For qualified patients, replacement teeth then can be restored immediately, returning a spectacular smile quickly usually on the same day. Unlike dentures or bridges, dental implants don’t move or shift, and they can last a lifetime.

A dental implant designed to replace a single tooth is composed of three parts: the titanium implant that fuses with the jawbone; the abutment, which fits over the portion of the implant that protrudes from the gum line; and the crown, which is created by a Prosthodontist (a specialist in the treatment planning and restoration or replacement of missing teeth) and fitted onto the abutment for a natural appearance.

Dental Implant History

In 1952, Prof. Per-Ingvar Brånemark of Sweden conducted an experiment where he utilized a titanium implant to better understand blood flow in bone. At the conclusion of the experiment, he discovered that the bone had integrated completely with the implant. Brånemark called the discovery “osseointegration,” and saw the possibilities for human use.

Modern-day implantology was invented in 1965 when Brånemark treated Gösta Larson, a patient who was missing teeth due to severe chin and jaw deformities. Larsson was the first person in the world to receive titanium dental implants.

After years of careful research and study, dental implants were refined with high success rates. There are patients now who have had implant-supported teeth for more than 40 years! Dental implants have come a long way, and more than 1.7 million dental implants were placed in 2006. With almost 50 years of clinical research and an overall success rate of about 96%, dental implants are frequently the best treatment option for replacement of missing teeth.

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