WhileI find Invisalign braces in my office at Rocky Point, NY to be the best method for correcting bite problems and straightening misaligned teeth, dental braces do have some limitations; unlike dental implants, they cannot replace missing teeth, nor even straighten the ones you have unless every tooth is in place. The reason is that teeth need lateral support from each of their neighbors (except for the rearmost molars, of course).
This said, implant dentistry is a highly effective and a permanent solution for those who have lost teeth in an accident or because of illness, genetic factors or periodontal disease. Not everyone is a good candidate for implants, but if you are in good health overall, practice good oral hygiene, do not smoke or drink excessively and are not on any sort of immuno-suppressant medication (such as is taken by transplant patients), chances are good that implant dentistry can restore your smile and improve your dental health.
A Very Old Form of Dentistry
While modern implant dentistry has only been around since 1959, the concept goes back much, much further. It is possible that the Etruscans, a non-Indo-European speaking people who lived in northern Italy before Roman times, used the teeth of animals and dead people to replace their own when they fell out or were injured. However, these were more like dentures; the first true dental implants were actually a Native American innovation.
The Mayans, who lived in present-day Honduras, Guatemala and the Yucatan region of modern Mexico, were remarkable for having independently developed a sophisticated, literate society nearly 1,000 years before Columbus arrived in the Americas. They had no knowledge of metalworking, nor did they ever make practical use of the wheel – yet they were excellent astronomers and mathematicians and even practiced surgery.
In 1931, a team of archaeologists discovered the remains of a young woman in her twenties who had died some 1,400 years earlier. Inserted into her jaw were three carved seashell fragments. At first, it was believed this had been done to prepare her body for the afterlife; however, 40 years later a Brazilian radiologist ran tests on the woman’s remains. His conclusion: the implants had been placed while she had still been alive.
Dental Implant Surgery Comes of Age
In the early 1950s, a Swedish orthopedic surgeon named Per Branemark was conducting research into the use of titanium in hip replacement and other similar types of surgery. He discovered that titanium had a molecular structure that caused bone to adhere to its surfaces.
The implications for bone treatments were profound. By 1959, an Italian dental surgeon named Stefano Tremonte developed the first artificial root, consisting of a titanium screw. By 1969, a patent for such a device was filed in the U.S., and modern implant dentistry entered the mainstream.
Implant Dentistry for You
After you have had a full dental examination and evaluation, your implant will be done in two steps. First, the hole is drilled and the screw inserted; once the bone has grown around and bonded to this artificial root, you will return and have the actual implant placed.