Dental implants have been on a rollercoaster journey of investment, development, and overall betterment. Before they became available at our Derby dental practice, they stretched back further and further through time that you may have originally thought. The modern dental implant is the descendant of many years of toil, and obviously the latest are the safest instalment, but you may be surprised what people of the past turned to to replace missing teeth.


Dental implants began their (documented) ascension as far back as 600AD, over 1,300 years ago. The Mayans boast of the earliest known use of the dental implant, which was found while excavating a burial site in Honduras in 1931. Archaeologists unearthed a female jaw bone with three tooth-shaped pieces of shell and stone placed into empty tooth sockets. At first, these make-shift dental implants were assumed to have been placed after death for cosmetic burial reasons, but further examination in 1970 proved not. It was then that the jawbone was found to have compacted around the pieces of shell, indicating that they were placed during life and even accepted by the body. This was one of the earliest indications that bone could heal around an artificial root or tooth.


The Mayans found a way to restore and form and function to the mouth with tooth replacement, but other ancient civilisations could only master one or the other. For example, the Ancient Chinese restored (questionable) function to the mouth with shards of bamboo as dental implants. They would allow biting and chewing to be restored, though probably very uncomfortably, but they were undoubtedly not the most pleasing thing to look at! The Ancient Egyptians forfeit function, placing their dental implants after death for cosmetic burial reasons, though they did restore post-mortum aesthetics. Lost teeth were replaced with jewels, stones, and sometimes other human teeth to ensure safe passage in the afterlife. These were affluently attached using gold wires.


When we jump to 1952, we find studies beginning to be published by the man who’s come to be known as the father of modern dental implants, Dr. Per-Ingvar Brånemark. His was the keen mind that provided the early indications that titanium, the metal widely used for dental implant roots, was biocompatible. This breakthrough occurred when he realised he couldn’t remove a small titanium cylinder he had placed in a bone because it seemed to have compacted around it. The cylinder had actually attracted the bone to heal around it, which began a long journey of development and discovery which culminated in the modern dental implant we know and love today.


Dental implants, like all good aspects of dental technology and procedures, have undergone a long and fruitful journey of development over the many years. From their first inkling being discovered in Honduras, to the Ancient Chinese and their splintered gums, we now offer the safe and superior porcelain crown and titanium root.


We’re proud to offer these effective dental treatments that allow our patients to smile, chew, and talk with confidence. Losing a tooth is disheartening at any age and it has the potential to really affect your confidence, but you needn’t reach for the shells or bamboo sticks. Raynesway Dental in Derby are more than happy to see you and listen to your tooth replacement needs. Enquire online or call 01332 75 77 55 to speak to a friendly member of staff today.