Today's dental implants are virtually indistinguishable from other
teeth. This appearance is aided in part by the structural and
functional connection between the dental implant and the living bone.
Implants are typically placed in a single sitting but require a period
Osseointegration is the process by which direct
anchorage of a dental implant root and the bone of the jaw occurs.
Osseointegrated implants are the most commonly used and successful type
of dental implant. An osseointegrated implant takes anywhere from
three to six months to anchor and heal, at which point your dentist can
complete the procedure with the placement of a crown. Once the implant
has anchored with the jawbone, artificial prosthesis may be attached
and the process is done. If osseointegration does not occur, the
implant will fail.
Detailed procedural steps are as follows:
Preparing the Jaw for Implantation: A
dental implant restoration is commonly composed of a titanium material
screw and a crown. A small-diameter hole (pilot hole) is drilled at
edentulous (where there is no tooth) jaw sites in order to guide the
titanium screw that holds a dental implant in place. To avoid damaging
vital jaw and face structures like the inferior alveolar nerve in the
mandible (lower jaw), a dentist must use great skill and expertise when
boring the pilot hole and sizing the jaw bone.
Placement of the Implant: After the
initial pilot hole has been drilled into the appropriate jaw site, it
is slowly widened to allow for placement of the implant screw. Once in
place, surrounding gum tissue is secured over the implant and a
protective cover screw is placed on top to allow the site to heal and
osseointegration to occur. After up to six months of healing, your
dentist will uncover the implant and attach an abutment (which holds
the crown or tooth-like replacement) to the implant. In some cases,
the abutment may be attached during the initial procedure. When the
abutment is in place, your dentist then will create a temporary crown.
The temporary crown
serves as a template around which the gum grows and shapes itself in a
natural way. The process is completed when the temporary crown is
replaced with a permanent crown.