Filling the gap with dental implants in St John’s Wood

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A whole lot of history

Dental implants have existed in some capacity for thousands of years. The earliest recorded dental implants have been found by archeologists within the skulls of ancient Chinese people dating as far back as 2000 BC. These were rudimentary, bamboo pegs which were crudely placed within the gaps of patients’ mouths, to replace missing teeth. Whilst this may sound grizzley by modern standards, it is interesting to note that the desire to have a full set of teeth – whatever they might be made of – rather than sporting large gaps in a mouth, is nothing new. From the days of ancient China, to the modern, readily available dental implants in St John’s Wood there has been a great deal of design refinement, and trial-and-error throughout the ages.

Implants through the ages

Throughout every stage in history, some attempt – however unsuccessful – has been made by each civilisation to restore missing teeth. Ancient Etruscans in around 500 BC used animal bones and rare minerals to replace lost teeth, and one of the earliest recorded examples of successful dental implants came from the ancient Mayan civilization, around 600 AD, when pieces of shell were used as rudimentary implants. Throughout the 1800s, many teeth were collected from cadavers or underprivileged people, and were used in attempts to transplant them into other people’s mouths. These were generally unsuccessful, and led to dentists attempting instead to introduce numerous other materials into the implant procedure, such as gold and silver. Again, these generally proved to be unsuccessful, until as late as the 1950s when an orthopaedic surgeon accidentally discovered the unique qualities of titanium within biocompatibility. This was discovered when he found a titanium cylinder which had fused within the femur of a rabbit. Upon witnessing this, he hypothesised that the same process could be replicated within orthopaedics, and in 1965, the first successful titanium dental implant was installed by Dr Branemark. Following the success of Branemark’s implant, titanium then became the standard material for all dental implants, and paved the way for all surgeries from then on.

Filling in the gaps

The process of undertaking the dental implant procedure today, consists firstly of a consultation period between the patient and their dental practitioner. This is undertaken to assess the patient’s eligibility for the implant procedure, as well as to detail the basis of the procedure and the results the patient can expect. Thereafter, the installation process will begin, which initially consists of a small hole being surgically drilled into the gap within the patient’s mouth, where their missing tooth or teeth ought to be – whilst the patient is under local anaesthetic. After which, a titanium socket is inserted into the hole and left to heal. Titanium is utilised for its unique ability to fuse within human bone tissue, which is exactly what it does during the brief healing period. This means that the socket is firmly fused in place within the jawbone of the patient. After this, a replica tooth, or denture, constructed from porcelain or plastic, is then screwed into the socket. Thus, the gap is bridged with a virtually indistinguishable, good as new tooth, which will last for years to come and restore the patient’s ability to smile without the potential fear of embarrassment.

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