In the early 1900’s, Dr Alvin and Dr Moses Strock experimented with orthopaedic screws made from vitallium. They had seen how orthopaedic surgeons had used screws in hip bones, so they extrapolated that information to create a vitallium screw. This biocompatible screw design provided more support than previous designs, both in terms of physical shape and the material used.
Then in the 1940’s, Drs Formiggini and Zepponi designed a spiral-screw. This was implanted and resulted in the patient’s bone growing into the metal—success!
Finally, in 1957, there was the final significant breakthrough- although it was an error in itself. An orthopaedic surgeon called Per-Ingvar Brånemark inserted a titanium cylinder in rabbit bone. His intention was to study how the bone healed, but instead, the bone and the titanium fused. This process was called osseointegration (bone fusion), and is the basis of modern-day implant success. He experimented further on humans and animals, and the first titanium dental implant was placed in a 34 year old patient in 1965. These implants lasted 40 years, until the patient died of old age.
Brånemark’s methods quickly were recognised in the medical community when he released the results of his studies. He partnered with Bofors, which later became Nobel Biocare, a supplier of dental implants and related technology.
The final leap in implant technology was in 1983, Dr Matts Andersson developed Computer Aided Design and Manufacturing (CAD/ CAM) as a way of creating extremely precise, repeatable dental crowns.
Since then, there has been a wide variety of developments. Companies started experimenting with different finishes on the titanium, plasma- spraying, adding coatings, and designing screws that would adhere faster and more firmly.
In 1992, use of ceramics for the crowns was initiated. The natural look and feel of these made them aesthetically pleasing, but their osseointegration properties meant that ceramics offered further benefits and strengths.