Dental implants have become the new “gold standard” in tooth replacement. Implants function like natural teeth by utilizing the jaw bone as the foundation for implant restoration.
However, to be successful, dental implants require a specialized process during which the bone wraps around the implant to hold it in place. This process, known as osseointegration, is integral to building the foundation for the highly successful placement of dental implants.
The osseointegration of dental implants creates the strength and stability for these popular restorations. Read this article to learn more about this process and why it is important for the longevity of your dental implants.
What are dental implants?
Dental implants are titanium posts surgically placed into the jaw’s bone to act as a root for replacement teeth.
The implant acts like an anchor, providing stability and support while preserving the integrity of the surrounding bone tissue.
Once the dental implant is in place, the tooth can be restored with a crown, bridge, or denture to repair the smile, supporting one or more missing teeth within the dental arch.
What is osseointegration, and why is it important with dental implants?
Osseointegration is the process that occurs when the jawbone fuses to the dental implant, creating a solid bond between the two. This process is essential for successful dental implants and requires time for the bone to bond to the implant fully.
As reported by the American Dental Association, osseointegration of dental implants can take several months. During this time, you must maintain strict oral hygiene and attend regular check-ups with your dentist.
If the process is successful, the implant will be secure and stable in the jawbone, ready to be restored with a prosthetic tooth.
Osseointegration has revolutionized dentistry and made dental implants an increasingly popular choice for patients who are missing one or more teeth. Its success depends on this process working as intended, so be mindful of your oral hygiene and regularly visit your dentist. Dental implants last for many years with the proper care and provide an excellent foundation for a beautiful smile!
What is the science behind the process of osseointegration of dental implants?
In the 1960s, a Swedish researcher named Professor Dr. Per-Ingvar Branemark discovered and observed how titanium metal integrated with living bone tissue. This integration was determined to be a phenomenon that became known as osseointegration.
This discovery has led to several medical breakthroughs, including facial prosthetics and bone-anchored hearing aids.
This discovery and continued research into osseointegration have improved the lives of those who are missing teeth thanks to the development of dental implants.
What type of aftercare is needed for osseointegration of dental implants?
After the osseointegration process is completed, it is essential to maintain proper oral hygiene to keep the implant healthy and strong. Below are a few ways you can ensure osseointegration is successful post-procedure:
Brush and floss as directed, but take care to avoid the implant areas for the first few days following your procedure.
Avoid hard or sticky foods during the osseointegration process to reduce the risk of the implant becoming loose.
Take any antibiotic, if prescribed, as directed by your oral surgeon.
Use an antibacterial mouthwash to reduce bacteria in the mouth that can lead to an infection.
Visit the dentist regularly during the healing process to ensure the bone is growing as expected.
Avoid cigarettes and alcohol before and after the recovery process.
Report any changes or unusual side effects to your dentist.
What are the benefits of dental implants?
- Avoiding facial collapse. Because osseointegration of dental implants allows the jawbone to grow around the implant, it also avoids dental resorption, which is common in patients with missing teeth. Many long-term denture wearers can attest to the changes in their facial structure caused by dental resorption. Facial collapse can make them appear older and keep them from having a more prominent chin. With dental implants, you can avoid facial collapse by maintaining the natural bone of the jaw with the implant in place.
- Longevity. Dental implants last for many years and are typically a permanent solution. With proper care, they can last decades or even a lifetime. This makes dental implants a popular choice among those looking to invest in a long-term solution to their tooth loss.
- Improved oral health. Unlike other tooth replacement options, including dentures, dental implants do not require the removal of any surrounding healthy teeth. This allows for better oral health by preserving more natural teeth.
- Improved self-confidence. A full smile is essential for feeling good about yourself and having confidence in your appearance. Dental implants look like natural teeth, which helps you feel at ease when socializing with others. If you have been dealing with tooth loss for an extended time, you know the difference a beautiful smile can make!
- Eating and speaking with ease. Because dental implants are securely fixed in your jawbone thanks to the osseointegration of dental implants, you can eat and speak without worrying about them moving or slipping out of place. This makes it much easier to enjoy meals, participate in conversations, and engage in other typically difficult activities with traditional dentures or bridges.
- Natural look and feel. Dental implants are designed to look and feel like your natural teeth purposefully. The restorations placed over the abutment are custom-made to match your remaining teeth, so you won’t be able to tell them apart from the rest of your smile!
- Better functionality. The implant is placed directly in the jawbone to simulate osseointegration, thus giving it a more secure and natural feel than dentures or bridges. They are not removed daily, making them a more “no muss, no fuss” solution for missing teeth compared to alternative solutions available.
- Easy care. Dental implants do not require special care or attention and are just like natural teeth when brushing and flossing. You must maintain regular evaluations to ensure the implant is clean and functioning as expected.
How successful is osseointegration of dental implants?
When placed by a skilled and experienced oral surgeon, the success rate of dental implants is around 95%. This success rate varies depending on the patient’s adherence to post-operative care. The techniques used to place the implant, as well as the health of the jawbone before the procedure, also play a role in predicting whether or not a dental implant will successfully bond to the natural bone.
What happens if osseointegration is not successful for me?
If the osseointegration process is unsuccessful, the implant must be removed and replaced. The risk of implant failure can be minimized by following post-operative care instructions closely and regularly visiting your oral surgeon for examinations afterward. To ensure a higher success rate with dental implants, you need to be diligent about following instructions while the process occurs. The entire process of osseointegration can take several months to complete.
Can I still get dental implants if I already have significant bone loss?
According to the FDA, to determine if a patient is a proper candidate for dental implants, dental x-rays, and other imaging services are used to evaluate the current bone structure of the jaw. There must be enough bone for the dental implant to successfully osseointegration.
Patients who have already experienced bone resorption from their tooth loss experience might have to consider other options, such as dental bridges or dentures.
However, patients who are interested in preparing their smile for the placement of implants in the future may want to ask their oral surgeon about the advantages of undergoing bone grafting.
Bone grafting uses artificial or donor bone to rebuild the jawbone after bone loss to help it grow and strengthen before dental implants are placed during oral surgery. This is the best way to ensure successful osseointegration of dental implants following the placement procedure.
Patients undergoing bone grafting for dental implants will often need to wait several months, sometimes up to a year, before placing a dental implant, according to the American Academy of Deriodontology.
Over time, the bone growth is evaluated using imaging to evaluate the area and determine when to place the implant for the best possible outcome.
To avoid the need for bone grafting, you should be diligent about replacing teeth as soon as they are lost or extracted to ensure that the maximum amount of remaining bone is available when placing the implant into the mouth.
How do I learn more about the importance of osseointegration of dental implants?
Our team can assist if you are considering dental implants but are worried about the cost and process.
We are located in Tijuana, Mexico, and provide dental tourism, making dental implants and other medical treatments more affordable for those who would otherwise spend thousands of dollars to perform the procedure in the United States.
Call our practice to learn more about dental tourism and the advantages of working with our team for more affordable rates for complex dental implant placement and restoration procedures.