Dental implants help a lot of people. Whether it’s a broken tooth due to trauma or one that’s decayed, affordable dental implants help restore people’s dentition and smile. A typical dental implant is made of titanium or other such material. These cylindrical, screw-shaped devices are put into the jawbone through a dental surgical procedure. Gradually, the device and the jawbone fuse, a process known as osseointegration. The anchored device provides the support structure for the visible part of the implant, the crown that resembles a real human tooth.

History of Osseointegration

Osseointegration refers to the process whereby a foreign object fuses with bone tissue. This discovery was made by Swedish physician and researcher Per-Ingvar Branemark in the early ‘50s. Branemark was studying the bone healing process in rabbits by placing titanium-encased devices in their legs. When it came time to remove the devices, he discovered that the bone and device had become fused. This led to a new line of thinking and research that ultimately gave rise to the dental implants we have today.

How Osseointegration Happens

The body is adept at handling anything it considers foreign. That’s why Branemark’s discovery was quite startling at the time. The idea that the body could tolerate a foreign object– let alone a metallic one– was difficult to grasp for many people.

The alveolar bone is the part of the jawbone socket into which teeth are naturally lodged. At the beginning of osseointegration, there is an initial interlocking involving the dental implant and the alveolar bone surface. Later on, there is bone remodeling around the implant. The body’s bone remodeling capabilities are a natural adaptation to bone trauma. For instance, in the case of fractures, bone remodeling is crucial to the healing process. This same healing process helps to assimilate the dental implant into the jawbone structure. Of course, there are chemical processes that contribute to this process.

Osseointegration can be summarized into its three stages. These include:

i)Incorporation by woven bone formation

ii) Acclimation of bone mass to the load i.e the jawbone getting used to the new dental implant

iii) Bone remodeling

Factors that Influence Osseointegration in Dental Implants

The geometry and dental implant surface play a huge role in how successful the process of osseointegration will turn out. However, they’re not the only things that matter. Other factors that also play a role include:

i)Bone quantity –  How much bone a person’s jawbone has is critical.

ii) Healing time and loading conditions

iii) A dental surgeon’s skill and experience – For complicated dental procedures, how well osseointegration turns out will depend on the surgeon’s expertise.

iv) Health conditions like diabetes, AIDS, or leukemia

v) Type of dental implant used –  Some materials undergo osseointegration more smoothly than others

v) Lifestyle choices like smoking and drug abuse

How Does a Bone Graft Factor into Osseointegration?

Sometimes, a dentist will determine that an individual’s jawbone isn’t strong enough to support a dental implant. In such cases, a bone graft will need to be performed before the implant is affixed.

A bone graft is a surgery done to boost the jawbone’s strength, ensuring that it is robust enough to support the incoming dental implant.

In individuals with a weak jawbone structure, a bone graft can help to prepare for osseointegration later on.

How to Know That Osseointegration Has Happened

Once you’ve undergone dental implant surgery, osseointegration sets in a few weeks later. Your dental surgeon can assess osseointegration using techniques like:

i)Resonance frequency analysis (RFA)

ii) Torque evaluation

iii) Tactile sensation

iv) Percussion test

Most patients prefer the RFA as an assessment method given its non-invasive nature. Expect complete osseointegration to take between three to six months.

Why is Titanium Widely Used in Dental Implants?

Dental implant architectural structure contributes significantly to how effectively osseointegration happens. Titanium is the choice material for many dental implants. Its chemical composition is ideal for not causing the body to reject the dental implant. It also has better osseointegration capabilities than most other metals.

Tips for Successful Osseointegration of Dental Implants

Usually, the process of osseointegration proceeds on its own as long as the patient has good oral hygiene practices. Patients need to follow their dental surgeon’s advice to the letter after surgery. For example:

i)Brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day using the right techniques

ii) Take the prescribed antibiotics according to the surgeon’s instructions.

iii) Avoid alcohol intake and smoking around the time of the surgery. For example, stop at least two weeks before surgery and continue to do so until the healing period is over

iv) Don’t forget to attend all follow-up dental visits

v) Report any complications to the dental surgeon as soon as possible

Ultimately, osseointegration helps ensure that dental implants stay in place permanently.