The first dental implant procedure was performed 50 years ago, in 1965. Unfortunately, the recipient of that procedure passed away in 2006, although his dental implants were still fully functional at the time. That means that the person who has had dental implants the longest is the second person ever to get them, Sven Johansson, who got them in 1967. It was just pure chance that brought Mr. Johansson to the clinic of Dr. Per-Ingvar Brånemark, the founder of implant dentistry, but Mr. Johansson wasn’t going to let the opportunity pass him by.
Taking the Opportunity to Ditch Dentures
Mr. Johannsson was like a lot of people of his generation: he’d lost all his teeth by the age of 40. And like a lot of younger people with dentures he wasn’t really happy with the way they worked. His dentures were uncomfortable, didn’t fit well, and interfered with eating and talking. As a result, he was really self-conscious in public and was turning into a bit of a recluse.
But Mr. Johansson was a conversational sort by nature, and in his job as a taxi driver he had lots of opportunities to practice that skill with his passengers, including one Gösta Larsson, the first dental implant recipient, who one day needed a taxi to the clinic of Dr. Brånemark. When Mr. Johansson learned about the miracle of dental implants, he decided then and there that he needed to try them, and he marched into the clinic and all but demanded the procedure for himself.
Mr. Johansson received 11 dental implants to support his permanently affixed implant dentures. He has had these dental implants for 48 happy years.
Learning from Mr. Johansson
There are a lot of lessons we can learn from Mr. Johansson’s experience. First, what does it take to make dental implants last 50 years? Sure, we know that dental implants won’t really fracture often, and that they regularly last about 20 years (with an average survival rate of 93.2%), but 50 years is really a remarkable longevity. How does he do it?
The key is working closely with his dentist. Although his original implant dentist, Dr. Brånemark, passed away last year, his new dentist has been working with him to carefully tailor a follow-up care plan that is customized to his needs. Really, it’s the quality of the implant procedure, and the customized follow-up that allows us to ensure the longevity of dental implants.
But there’s one more thing we can learn from Mr. Johansson: when you have your opportunity to ditch dentures in favor of dental implants, don’t hesitate–do it! You may not be making history in the same way as Mr. Johansson, but you will definitely be changing your life for the better.