A dental implant is more than a replacement tooth, it is rebuilding the structure from the base. To do this, we have to do more than simply place a replacement tooth, we take the bone into consideration. During your dental implant consultation, you may have heard the term osseointegration. Understanding this effect may help you decide if a dental implant is right for you. At David Thurber, DDS - Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, we can provide you with replacement teeth that will not only look real, but function naturally. This first step in achieving this goal is your own natural healing ability through osseointegration.
The term osseointegration can be broken into two parts for better understanding. Osseo- is a medical term used to describe bone, and the action of integrating is to take two things and make them into one. We may set the stage for this bone integration, but it’s actually your body that does the work. Your bone is continually growing and renewing, and we can use that ability to restore missing teeth.
Observing Bone Integration
Before doctors started repairing bone, anthropologists observed ancient remains with attempts at bone surgery. Specifically with teeth replacement, they observed ancient humans attempting to replace missing teeth by inserting objects into the jawbone. Objects such as stone, shell, metal and even bamboo were found in jaws across multiple cultures. The attempt didn’t surprise scientists, what did surprise them was realizing that the bone actually began to grow around these objects. We learned something extraordinary, our bones will grow and heal. As it does, the bone incorporates the object, making them one. The next goal was finding the right object, something that was biocompatible, strong, and long lasting.
Today, we have decades of research and data to show how successful dental implants can be. The design includes a threaded post made of titanium metal or a non-metal ceramic. As the bone heals around the threaded device, the two integrate firmly and become one through your own natural healing process of osseointegration.
Once healed, we can use a single post, or multiple posts, to restore missing teeth. We can use a dental crown, a dental bridge, or even restore all of your missing teeth on a full arch with a denture. Osseointegration makes this option possible.
Being Able to Heal Properly
Dental implant surgery is a minimally invasive procedure that is often approved for most patients. The most common reason for not being approved is if the patient has a reason to not heal properly and timely. That’s because osseointegration relies so much on your own natural healing ability. Patients who suffer from certain medical conditions including diabetes, or are taking certain medications, or who smoke, may need to make changes before surgery can take place. These changes can be discussed during your consultation, and we are happy to discuss it with your personal physician when needed.
Once placed, osseointegration takes time. Following your surgical implant placement, you may find that your soft tissue will be healed quickly, in a matter of days, but bone tissue can take months to heal. We will advise you on your next steps, but your implant will need to remain still, undisturbed, while healing takes place.