The key to a successful dental implant is osseointegration: the fusing of the implant with the patient’s jawbone. At Bay Area Surgical Arts, Dr. Massoomi performs dental implant procedures, with the use of the latest available technology in this field. As one of the top Oral and Maxillofacial specialists in the Bay Area, patients get referred to us by other general dentists to perform extractions and bone grafting at the same time, in order to prepare the site for a future implant. In general, the success rate for dental implants is considered higher than 90% and in some studies at high as 98%.
Some patients think of dental implants as replacement teeth. But strictly speaking, a dental implant is a titanium screw that is inserted into the jaw in order to replace the root portion of a natural tooth. In about 3 – 6 months, once the implant has fused to the bone, also known as Osseointegrated, then the patient is given the green light to see their general dentist in order for them to make a custom crown to fit on top of the implant – as shown below.
In some more complex cases, multiple implants are placed to support a bridge, or even more to replace someone’s entire dentition. This is referred to as the “All-on-4” procedure, where at least 4 implants are placed to provide them with a bridge that replaces all the teeth in one jaw, meaning 4 implants in the upper jaw and 4 implants in the lower jaw. The layman term for this technique is “Full mouth dentures.”
However, what most patients do not realize is that no matter the number of implants, this entire mode of treatment hinges on the implant attaching to the bone = “Osseointegration”.
The most commonly used dental implants are mostly made of titanium and have an inert property to fuse with the bone. There is actually a term for this: “Osteophilic” which means “bone loving.” This unique property has made titanium the material of choice in dental implants, and all the other prosthetic implants in the human body, such as shoulder, knee, and hip replacements. This unique property is also responsible for stimulating natural bone growth in the jaw, leading to the preservation of the bone – unlike other treatment modalities, such as dentures that cause the resorption of the jaw bone. Below is a comparison of the attachment of a natural tooth (on the right) and an osseointegrated implant (on the left).
High Success Rate
Across the board, dental implants have a remarkably high success rate: over ninety percent. The biggest threat to an implant is the contamination of its surface with bacteria that normally inhabit our oral cavity, referred to as the “oral flora”. These bacteria can cause inflammation and infection around the implant that is commonly referred to as “peri-implantititis”. This is why the “standards of care” recommend the use of antibiotics for dental implant placement, just like the orthopedic surgeons do for the placement of any other artificial joints…shoulder, knee, and hip replacements.
A common misperception is that since dental implants are artificial, they do not require any maintenance. This could not be farther from the truth. Just like natural teeth, dental implants require daily flossing and brushing, in addition to regular checkups and maintenance by a general dentist. Any plaque or calculus accumulation around the implant and crown interface can lead to Peri-implantititis and bone loss…just like natural teeth. In worst-case scenarios, if there is extensive bone loss around an implant…more than 50%, then the implant is considered a failed implant and needs to be removed. Meaning, removal of the implant, bone grafting and
Like all technological advances, the field of dental implants is constantly improving. In the near future, some dental implants may have the capability to fend off and eliminate bacteria! This could mean an even higher success rate.
But it all begins with the titanium screw and osseointegration phenomenon. If you are interested in learning more about dental implants, please call Dr. Massoomi’s offices and schedule an appointment for an evaluation since not everyone is a candidate for implants…more to come on this topic in subsequent blog posts.