Dental implant marketing has an exciting future as we discussed in a recent blog Dental Implant Marketing – 10 Reasons To Be Confident
We can boil the reasons for confidence down to two reasons quite easily.
- The demand for dental implants is growing.
- Technology is improving and expanding.
But in order to build our base of confidence further for dental implant marketing, let’s take a look at where implant technology has been and the developments that have created the rapidly expanding field of dental implantology that we know today.
We will, first of all, talk about what exactly the field of dental implantology is and then look at the high points through the years.
We’ll give a brief timeline of ancient forerunners to modern dental implants before picking up the narrative in earnest about the mid-1930s.
So, buckle up! We’re going to go on a time travel tour that will show you what has been going on and build more confidence for modern dental implant marketing!
What is Dental Implantology?
First of all, for any non-dentists, let’s talk about what dental implantology is just a little bit.
Dictionary.com defines dental implantology as “the branch of dentistry dealing with the permanent implantation or attachment of artificial teeth in the jaw.”
Dental implants are permanent, artificial teeth that are “implanted or attached” in the jaws of people who have lost their natural teeth.
So, as you can see, implantology is all about dental implants, the science behind them, and the science that has created and improved them.
Much like most other fields of technology, dental implantology, over the last several decades, has exploded with advancements and developments. The better we can understand where this industry has been, the better we can maximize the progress that has been achieved and highlight that progress in our dental implant marketing.
The term dental implantology first began to be used in the early 1980s.
Dental Implantology – Ancient History to the Middle Ages
Dental implants, or at least replacement teeth, have actually been fashioned in one form or another to replace missing teeth throughout human history.
Here is a timeline of some of the instances that we know about.
- 2500 B.C. – The Egyptians used ligatures made of golden wire to stabilize teeth.
- 500 B. C. – The Etruscans of Italy crafted replacement teeth from oxen bones.
- 300 B.C. – The Phoenicians carved artificial teeth out of ivory and used gold wire to create a fixed bridge.
- 600 A. D. – The Mayan used pieces of sea shells as replacements for mandibular teeth.
- 800 A.D. – Stone teeth implants were used for mandibular teeth replacements in the early Honduran culture.
- 1500s-1800s – Teeth were collected from cadavers and other unfortunate victims to be used as replacement teeth. This grisly practice was carried out mainly by the “resurrection men” who would then sell the teeth surreptitiously to barbers or barber surgeons. These men also performed most of the town dentistry because they were usually the only ones who owned the necessary sharp instruments.
Dr. John Hunter was a doctor in the 1700s who did much study of the anatomy of the mouth and jaw, due to the availability of corpses from these grave robbers. He wanted to pursue implanting teeth from one person to another, but first, he tried out an experiment on a rooster.
He implanted a human tooth into the comb of a rooster and was astonished to see that it actually worked. The blood vessels of the rooster grew into the pulp of the tooth and firmly embedded the tooth into the flesh of the rooster.
Astonishing, gruesome, but true!
Other substances used to form replacement teeth during the last several centuries included golden tubes, silver capsules, corrugated porcelain, and iridium tubes.
Modern Historical Development of Dental Implants
The earliest developments that led to modern dental implants took place in the mid-1930s, although there were a few discoveries and developments before this.
Here are the 7 stages in the history of dental implants up to the present.
- Groundwork Laid (1930-1950) During the 1930s, two brothers, Drs. Alvin and Moses Strock began experimenting with orthopedic screw fixtures in patients’ mouths after observing doctors successfully placing hip implants. The Vitallium screw they developed provided an anchor and support to replace the missing tooth. These doctor brothers are considered to be the first to place a successful implant into the bone. In 1938, Dr. P.B. Adams patented a cylindrical threaded implant with both a smooth gingival collar and a healing cap. Formiggini (“Father of Modern Implantology”) and Zepponi developed a post-type implant in the 1940s with a spiral stainless-steel design that allowed the bone to grow into the metal. Their design was later improved upon by Dr. Perron Andres from Spain, who modified the spiral design of the stainless-steel implant to include a solid shaft. Others added to and improved the design of the screws over the next several years.
- Early Development (1960s-1970s): Building on these concepts and early developments, great strides were made in the 1960s and 1970s, especially by Swedish orthopedic surgeon Per-Ingvar Brånemark who pioneered the use of titanium for dental implants. Carefully documenting his work, he placed his first titanium screws (he called them fixtures) into patients’ mouths in 1965. These titanium implants were a huge success – on his first patient they underwent osseointegration (integration with the bone tissue) in 6 months and remained in place for four decades! With this success, Per-Ingvar Brånemark laid the foundation for modern dental implantology. (He had actually stumbled upon titanium by accident while placing titanium chambers in rabbit femurs to study blood flow. He discovered that the chamber bonded over time with the bone and could no longer be removed.)
- Initial Adoption (1980s-1990s): During the 1980s and 1990s, the procedure began to approach the mainstream as dental implants gained wider acceptance among both dentists and patients. More dental professionals began offering the service for edentulous patients as the technology continued to improve. During this era, dentists mainly focused on single-tooth replacements and smaller implant-supported bridges.
- Technological Advances (2000s-2010s): Like many industries, the early 2000s witnessed significant technological advancements for dental implants, improving success rates and better treatment outcomes. Some of these innovations were as follows: computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) technology, three-dimensional (3D) imaging, and guided implant surgery. All of these enhanced the precision and efficiency of implant placement. During these decades, the scope of dental implant treatment grew beyond single-tooth and small bridges, expanding to include full-arch restorations and complex cases.
- Growing Popularity (2010s-2020s): This was a boom time for the dental implant industry. The dental implant market experienced substantial growth during this period, partly due to an aging population and growing disposable income. Other factors contributing to the increased popularity of dental implants included rising awareness among patients, improved aesthetics and functionality of implant-supported restorations, and a shift towards minimally invasive procedures. This was also the era that saw increased competition among dental implant manufacturers, leading to greater product diversity and affordability, as a free market always does.
- Global Market Growth: Here’s where dental implants expanded beyond developed countries such as the USA and Europe. The dental implant market expanded globally, with significant growth in emerging markets such as Asia-Pacific and Latin America. Rising disposable incomes worldwide, increasing dental tourism (especially to places such as Mexico), and a growing emphasis on aesthetic dentistry contributed to this expansion. Implant manufacturers focused on product innovation, introducing new materials, surface coatings, and implant designs to enhance osseointegration and long-term success rates.
- Prosthetic and Digital Advancements: During these later decades, advancements were also introduced for prosthetic components associated with dental implants, such as abutments and prosthetic materials. Ceramic materials and zirconia gained popularity due to their natural appearance and suitability for patients with thin gingival biotypes. Additionally, digital dentistry began to take shape with products such as intraoral scanners, computer-aided implant planning, 3D printing, and guided implant surgery, revolutionizing the workflow and precision of implant procedures.
Dental Implant Marketing – Looking to the Future and Remembering the Past
The future outlook for the dental implant market is continued growth throughout the 2020s due to an aging population with its increasing numbers of edentulous (toothless) people and a rising demand for cosmetic dentistry.
Also, continued technological advancements such as tissue engineering, implant surface modifications, and regenerative techniques should continue to improve outcomes, reduce treatment time, and increase the comfort of dental implant patients.
Although no one can predict the effect of factors such as regulatory changes, economic conditions, and other unknowns, and popularity will vary by geographic region, the future appears bright for providers of dental implants and, by extension, dental implant marketing!
And let us never forget that the progress that we are now enjoying is the fruit of the hard work of many intelligent, adventurous men and women over many years!
Dental Growth Partner for Maximum Impact
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