It's incredible, but the history of dental implants begins more than 1000 years ago, maybe even more, and it starts with the ancient Mayans. First dental implants that were found were made out of pieces of shell, shaped in the form of the teeth.
Similar findings were made in ancient Egipt when excavating artifacts. Those implants were also made from shells, but also from ivory. Throughout history there were many findings of similar sorts, with different materials and shapes.
Probably one of the most important discoveries for todays modern implantology is in 1950's. In 1951, a Swedish professor named Per-Ingvar Brånemark, who was orthopedic surgeon by the way, was studying aspects of the bones’ healing process in lab at the University of Lund. In one of the experiments Professor Brånemark and his team inbeded a titanium metal cylinder into the thighbone of an animal test subject. After some time they saw that the cylinder has succsessfully fused with the surrounding bone.
Professor Per-Ingvar Brånemark named that process osseointegration. In his further studies and experiments he found that titanium screws could serve as bone anchors for teeth. Further experiments were madewith different materials such are silver, gold and even human teeth from donors, but nothing came close to titanium. In 1980's dental implants, made possible by osseointegration, were being used to hold bridges and teeth into patients mouth, and were sccessfull in over 90% of the cases.
Over the time technology has only got better and the goal is to achieve faster and better osseointegration, less expensive procedures and materials, and more durable final products.