This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first dental implant procedure. Unfortunately, the patient who got that very first set of dental implants, Gösta Larsson, passed away in 2006, with his original implants in place more than forty years after he received them. He even received one more implant, though this one was designed for another purpose: to allow him to hear after he had lost his natural hearing.
The second patient ever to get dental implants was Sven Johansson, who got them in 1967. This year marks 48 years that Mr. Johansson has had his implant-supported dentures, and there is no sign that his implants won’t make it to 50 years, assuming the 90-year-old Mr. Johansson does.
Bold as Brass (or Maybe Titanium)
Mr. Johansson came to get dental implants in a serendipitous way. Having lost all his teeth by age 40–as was not uncommon with people born before the middle of the 20th century–he was really unhappy with his dentures. They didn’t fit well, made it hard for him to talk, and even harder for him to eat. He was self-conscious in public, so he avoided getting together with people.
Mr. Johansson was a cab driver, and one day he picked up a passenger he wanted to be taken to the clinic of Dr. Brånemark. This passenger turned out the be Mr. Larsson, the first implant patient. When he heard about dental implants, Mr. Johansson marched himself into the clinic and requested the procedure.
Going the Distance
But getting dental implants placed is one thing and having them last 50 years is another. There are many essential elements to making dental implants last. First, it’s important to make sure that the implants are good quality, as is the denture or other restoration that will top them. Next, it’s important that patients have a good, longstanding relationship with their dentist. As a patient ages, dental implant care–like other oral health care–has to change to meet changing needs. It may mean more visits or changes in home care and/or diet.
If you want dental implants that will last 50 years–or more–you have to make the commitment to your implants, your dentist, and your personal care.