What is a Dental Implant?


Sam asks:
Can you please explain what a dental implant is and when it was invented?

Answered by: Dr. David Weinstein

New York, NY

Dear Sam,

Good question. A Dental Implant is simply an artificial tooth root made of titanium. It serves as an anchor for a replacement tooth. A dental implant can be used to replace as few as one missing tooth or with several implants the entire mouth.

A dental implant is generally composed of three parts: the titanium implant that integrates with the jawbone; the abutment, which fits over the portion of the implant that comes out from the gum line; and the crown, which is fitted onto the abutment for a natural appearance.

Dental implants are surgically placed into the jawbone. Then, in a process called osseointegration, the surrounding bone bonds with the titanium. This "fusion" with the jawbone through osseointegration, means that dental implants never slip or make embarrassing noises that advertise the fact that you have "false teeth." They also never decay like teeth anchoring fixed bridges. Because dental implants fuse with the jawbone, bone loss is generally not a problem.

The truth about the invention of dental implants, like many other revolutionary medical treatments, is that many researchers and clinicians contributed to the discovery.

However, Professor Per-Ingvar Branemark was perhaps the most important figure in the advancement of implant dentistry. His significant breakthrough, in the 1950’s, was the discovery that bone can integrate with titanium components. That is, living bone could become so fused with the titanium oxide layer of an implant that the two could not be separated without fracture.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational and informational purposes ONLY. It is not medical advice. The use of the Web Site is at your own risk. >>Read More
Expert Advice and Comments
Anonymous's picture


15 or so years ago, Smithsonian Magazine reported on a wrought-iron, root-form dental implant discovered in a Roman skull dating to around 500 A.D. It was solidly healed in place.

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