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The Evolution of Dental Implants

Posted on 10/31/2023 by Portland Emergency Dentist
Diagram of the different parts of a dental implant at Portland Emergency DentistReplacing missing or failing teeth with dental implants has evolved remarkably over decades of determined research, clinical innovation, and technological advancement. Reviewing the history and significant milestones provides perspective on the transformative journey of this now exceptionally successful tooth replacement technology.

Early Attempts and Titanium

The first known attempt at a metal implant fixture was in 1937, using noble metals with limited success. The shift to biocompatible titanium in the 1960s proved a breakthrough. Titanium fused well with bone without rejection. This paved the way for today's implants.

Osseointegration Discovery

Swedish scientist Dr. Branemark discovered in the 1950s that titanium could durably integrate with living bone through an osseointegration process. This fusion of implant and bone provides the stability that enables implant functionality. Refining surfaces maximized this union.

Transition to 3D Imaging

Initial implants were placed freehand, leading to imprecision and failures. The advent of 3D scanning and imaging allowed detailed surgical planning and guided placement, improving outcomes. Custom guides and robotic systems further perfect accuracy.

[[[H2:Digital Design Advancements]]

Digitally designed and milled custom abutments, crowns, and bridges cultivated seamless, optimized aesthetics. Screw-retained implant restorations streamlined reconnect and repairs versus cement. Intraoral scanners capture precise digital impressions as well.

Reduced Treatment Timelines

Historically, dental implants were believed to require many months of unloaded healing time before prosthetic teeth could be functionally loaded on top. However, advancing techniques like immediate implant placement into fresh extraction sockets and immediate provisionalization have demonstrated high success rates in bonding teeth to implants right after surgery. This has shortened overall treatment timelines dramatically. Zirconia implant abutments and 3D-printed temporaries can often place functional, highly aesthetic implant teeth on the same day as surgery.

Thanks to many meaningful innovations over decades, today's dental implants can truly mimic natural teeth in appearance, comfort, and function. Implant dentistry advances rapidly to become more patient-friendly, effective, and successful at permanently replacing teeth based on a wealth of accumulated knowledge and technology.
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