When an alligator loses a tooth, a new one grows in its place. When we lose a tooth we have to find a replacement.
It would be nice if, like alligators, we could regrow a tooth up to 50 times. After all, we can regrow hair (well, most of us can), and we can regrow fingernails.
Instead, we have used the practice of dentistry to find new ways of replacing our teeth, and some ways are better than others. Dental implants just might be the next best thing to regrowing your real teeth.
You can get dental implants at Atlanta West Dentistry in Marietta, and you can learn more about tooth replacement below.
► People Have Been Replacing Teeth For Centuries
Human beings have understood the value of teeth for a long time, and they’ve come up with a variety of ways to replace them, according to The Dental Geek.
About 4,000 years ago in ancient China, people used bamboo pegs to replace missing teeth
Around 2,000 years ago, animal teeth were used as replacements for human teeth. The wealthy sometimes bought teeth from the poor or took them from slaves.
Other tooth replacement options used at different times in human history included teeth taken from the dead, ivory, and animal bones.
► Dental Implants Developed Through Trial And Error
As people kept losing teeth, people also continued their efforts to find long-term replacements.
In 1913, Dr. EJ Greenfield placed a platinum cylinder soldered to gold into a patient’s mouth. The cylinder was intended as an artificial root.
In the 1930s, the Strock brothers developed screw-type implants made an alloy of chromium and cobalt. This allowed the implant to become better “anchored” into the jaw.
►A Rabbit Helped With A Breakthrough
One of the problems with earlier implants was that the human body would try to reject them.
In 1952, a Dr. P. Brånemark had placed a titanium chamber into a rabbit’s bone. He was studying blood flow in rabbit femurs at the time. When he tried to remove the titanium chamber, he found that it was stuck.
Through a process known as osseointegration, the bone bonded directly to the titanium. This had not happened with other kinds of metal implants.
With this knowledge, Brånemark developed the first titanium dental implants. He placed the first implants into a patient in 1965, and those implants remained there for 40 years.
► Further Developments
As titanium became the standard material for dental implants, people continued working to make them better.
Those developments included changing to a more cone-shaped design. Over the years, researchers have improved implants by changing the coating and the texture of the implant’s exterior.
► Bite Force Improvements
Dental implants have proven to be highly effective at restoring a patient’s bite force, too.
Human beings have a bite that has between 200 and 250 pounds of force.
People with traditional dentures can generate bite forces between 5 and 50 pounds.
But people who have dentures held in place by dental implants can generate bite forces up to 85 percent of their original bite force (between 170 and 212 pounds) within two months after getting them. After a few years, some can even generate bite forces higher than then could with their natural teeth.
As we mentioned, the first titanium implants placed by Dr. Brånemark lasted for 40 years. Today’s dental implants have a 95 percent success rate.
A recent study compared patients who wore partial dentures with those who had implant-supported dentures.
After three years, up to 20 percent of the partial dentures had failed. After 10 years, the failure rate was closer to 50 percent. In contrast, the failure rate for the implant-supported dentures was less than 1 percent after 10 years.
► Implant Options
Dental implants are a proven way to replace lost and missing teeth. They can be paired with a dental crown to replace a single tooth or a dental bridge to replace multiple teeth. If you need to replace a complete arch, you can receive multiple dental implants to support a set of dentures.
Implants have a great long-term success rate, and they give you a bite force close to what you had with your natural teeth (and even better in some cases).