The term osseointegration is a medical one. It derives from the ancient Greek term ‘osteon’ which means bone, and the Latin ‘integrare’ which means to make whole. The term is used for situations that require a structural and functional connection between living bone and an artificial implant, and as such is commonly used in joint replacement surgeries as well as in dental implants.
One of the biggest advantages of dental implants are that they are a permanent, robust solution to missing teeth that allow you to eat, drink, talk and go about your normal life as if you had all of your natural teeth. Osseointegration is a crucial element to the success of implants.
Implants are made up of three sections – the implant itself, the visible tooth and the abutment that joins them together. The actual implant is almost always created from titanium, and this is because titanium has the unique ability to allow for osseointegration, by accepting living bone growing onto it, creating that ultra-secure foundation that makes dental implants so strong and long-lasting.
As you can probably imagine, inserting titanium implant screws into your jaw requires significant planning. Before approving you for implant treatment, your doctor will need to do a thorough consultation to check whether you are a suitable candidate for this dental solution. As well as taking your complete medical history, he will take images of your jaw using x-ray or CT equipment, to determine the condition of your jawbone and the location of anatomical structures such as major nerves, blood vessels and sinus cavities. This will help him/her to assess whether dental implants are right for you, and how many you would need in order to provide a satisfactory result to your dental problems. Your doctor can then formulate a plan for the number and position of the implants, and what type of crowns or bridges will be attached to them.
When osseointegration fails
Although dental implant surgery is extremely successful, there are circumstances in which osseointegration doesn’t happen and implants fail. However, there is almost always an identifiable reason for this. Some of the things that can prevent osseointegration from happening and put you at greater risk of implant failure include:
– Bone quality (including volume and density)
– A compromised immune system
– Having specific health conditions including diabetes
Many people worry that dental implant surgery is painful, but you will be given anesthetic before beginning the procedure. Once your doctor has put the implants in place, these will be left for a number of weeks to allow osseointegration to happen. You will then make a return visit where your doctor will fit the abutment and replacement tooth, and you will leave with your new smile ready to dazzle.