What, then, is the secret to the amazing success of modern dental implants? And how do implants compare to natural teeth?
How Dental Implants Fuse To Natural Bone Tissue
It was the discovery of the osseo-integration properties of titanium that led to the first dental implants in the 1970's. Both titanium and its alloys are far and away the most commonly used metals for implants, as well as for other medical devices that must fuse to the bone, such as joint or hip replacements.
There are both striking similarities and major differences between the way implants work and the way natural teeth work. Both connect directly to the alveolar bony ridge, which sits just below the gums and right on top of the rest of the jawbone.
Natural teeth attach to the bone mass by means of periodontal ligaments that run from inside the tooth root and into the alveolar ridge. These ligaments are very strong, being made of collagen fibers.
Implant roots, however, fuse chemically and physically to the bone tissue. The bottom of the titanium root can be inserted into a smal, l precisely made pocket in the bone. It fuses firmly and then functions just like an ordinary tooth root , anchoring a lifelike artificial crown.
Also, titanium is a safe choice when it comes to medical devices attached to one's body, because of what's called "bio-compatibility." That means that titanium will not corrode or react with body fluids where other metals would. An oxide film naturally forms on its surface, and that film prevents negative interactions with body tissues and fluids.
What If I Lack Sufficient Bone Mass For Implants?
As soon as a tooth is lost, the pressures it once put into the underlying bone mass and on surrounding gum tissues stops. This results in the slow resorption of bone matter into the body.
After only one year of missing a tooth, about 25% of the bone matter below where the tooth once was is lost. Over time, more and more bone is absorbed back into the body, and the bone that's left gets thinner and weaker.
By getting implants sooner rather than later, you reduce the amount of bone loss that takes place in the meantime. And you can even get implants placed on the same day as a tooth extraction is performed.
But what if you've already lost too much bone matter to support a dental implant where you need one? In that case, dental bone graft surgery will need to be done first, and after the grafts have integrated to the old bone, your jaw will be ready to take the implants.
If you have any further questions about how titanium implants fuse to bone tissue, or on dental implants in general, feel free to contact Dr. Raymond A. Kenzik in Ormond Beach, FL, today!