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  • Writer's pictureSoong-Ryong Jung (David) , DDS, MS, PhD

Dental Implants Throughout the Middle Ages

We already addressed the very early origins of dental implants previously, that still is only the starting point. So, we are going to try to understand how we got from point A to point B with dental implants.

The Islamic Golden Age of Medicine, Arithmetic and Dental Implants

A quick recap before the middle ages. While there are origins of dental implants made from bamboo in China, they were not the only prototype. In the Americas, the Mayans had a more concrete idea and execution for dental implants. The Egyptians and Etruscans also toyed around with the concept using gold, the bones of other mammals and other materials. When the Classical age came around Hippocrates and Aulus Cornelius Celsus, who had an 800-year gap between them, hypothesized the possibility of using the bones of a cadaver and a gold thread to replace missing teeth.

It wouldn't be until the middle of the Islamic Golden age, in the 10th and 11th centuries, that this idea would expand. The Islamic Golden Age was a period where the main focus of the Middle East (or at the time, Arabia) was education. Mathematics, geography, medicine, and other subject matters would thrive while Europe was still struggling with various wars. Al-Zahrawi was a pioneer for many cosmetic and life-saving surgical procedures. He would write a 30 volume, the Kitab-Al Tasrif encyclopedia about a variety of subject matter. Including dental implants. Among the many volumes, he wrote a lot about dental implants both organic and synthetic.

According to the Trieste of Implant Surgery, "In particular, he described the procedures for replacing lost elements with other teeth—natural or artificial. They were made of bony fragments from large mammals, sustaining that gold ligatures inserted into the gingival tissue were useful for keeping them in place. He would continue to teach many students for 50 years of his life.

Dental Implants During The Middle Ages

One would think that in Europe during the same period as the black plague and humorism that dental implants weren't a focus. For the most part, they were right. However, there was an exception to the rule. A French physician named, Guy de Chauliac in the 1300s would learn various surgical techniques and would become a physician to Popes. He published his own manuscript about surgical procedures. The manuscript was a 4 volume series with the title, "Chirurgia Magna", or "Great Work on Surgery". It covered a variety of topics that included, anatomy, bloodletting, cauterization, drugs, anesthetics, wounds, fractures, ulcers, special diseases, and antidotes. It also included dental implants. He even had a recorded attempt to perform a tooth transplant in one of the chapters.

There would be A few other noteworthy figures before the Italian Renaissance. One example is the Florentine Michele Savonarola, who would recommend the use of thread to "ligature of replanted teeth with linen or silk thread". Another was Nicolò Falcucci, another Florentine doctor, who published an illustrated guide to the technique of dental implantation.

The Renaissance and Tooth Transplants

The beginning of the Renaissance brought a change in attitude when it came to the study of anatomy. While it was still illegal to study cadavers at the time, the contributions of Vesalius convinced the Roman Catholic Church to allow the anatomical study of convicted criminals. This emboldened people in the medical community to study dental implants further.

One of these people more interested in the dental implant aspect of things was Ambrose Pare, a military surgeon. He proposed the possibility of replanting a tooth back into the body. "He would state that it was possible to replant teeth that "suffered expulsion from their sockets accidentally, tying them to the remaining teeth with gold, silver or linen threads, and keeping them tied until stabilization.”


More well known medical experts who have more credit in the dental implant process, such as Dupont, would rely on this legwork. From there, dental implants would gain more momentum. Dental implants in Plano, Texas has a long history that is fascinating. This journey has been nothing short of amazing.

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