A dental prosthetic is a false or artificial tooth or teeth. For it to be ossified, it must be fused to the jaw bone, anchoring it in place.
Today dental implants in Bromley and elsewhere are common. But the origin of dental prosthetics is very old, with ancient graves found with wooden or ivory false teeth, some of which have been very expertly carved. What is less well known is that attempts to ossify them into the jaw are almost as old. Findings like a skull of a Peloponnesian woman in her late thirties which had the front four lower incisors replaced with pieces of shell, which appeared to have been hammered into the jaw and then sculpted to shape!
The first of the modern implants are over a hundred years old; it was an iridium alloy peg which acted as an artificial root for the placement of a crown.
The big breakthrough was in the 1950s, with research being done in the USA on which metals were most appropriate for surgery. One of the metal rods being tested had a strange effect when placed in or next to living bone.
Titanium had the strange effect of integrating itself into bone over time, with new bone-forming such a close association with the metal, it was described as integrated. From that point on, titanium would become the default surgical metal.
The anatomy of the implant
An implant consists of three components; the section below the gum line which is osseointegrated with the jaw bone called the implant. Above this is a connector, which sits at gum line level. To this is attached a dental prosthetic which could be an individual tooth, much like the first iridium based crowns. In fact, as many as four or five implants can be used to anchor and immobilize a set of dentures fixing them permanently into the mouth.
The connector was not used in earlier implants, forcing a dentist to extract the implant if the prosthetic became damaged or required replacing. But with connectors, it is relatively trivial to remove the prosthetic and replace it, leaving the titanium component undisturbed.
Dental implants have been growing in popularity over the last decade or so due to the convenience and affluence of older populations. The relative obscurity of implants compared to dentures is due to the subtlety of the finished product. With implants often going unnoticed, the patients who receive them often prefer a natural appearance over a veneered Hollywood smile.
With this more dental clinics are investing in staff training and equipment to meet demand.
Maintenance of implants
After an integration process, up to six months dependent on the health and lifestyle of the patient, the maintenance of an implant is very similar to natural teeth; with regular brushing and standard checkups. Often, this is a big motivation in patients to pursue implants, as it is the closest option to their natural teeth and is therefore often considered restorative as opposed to cosmetic dentistry.