When patients receive dental implants, part of the process involves placing a post into the bone that underlies the gums. Osseointegration is part of the body’s natural healing process to integrate the implant post into the surrounding bone. The word osseointegration is derived from Latin and means “bone” and “to make whole.” Once the implant has been placed, your body will naturally begin to build up new bone around the implant. This process is one of the reasons that dental implants are so effective at maintaining your jaw, implant, and surrounding teeth.
Understanding Dental Implants
Dental implants are designed to replace missing teeth. There are many advantages to dental implants over other possible procedures. One of the biggest is due to osseointegration and the body’s ability to help maintain and strengthen your dental implant.
The actual process involves installing a small titanium post into the gums. The post has microscopic holes that are pre drilled so that the process of osseointegration can more securely anchor the post. Additionally, the titanium post comes with a special coating to help allow the implant to be recognized as a natural part of the body. This helps to reduce the chances of rejection and increases your body’s natural responses.
Once the post is installed, an implant will be measured and specifically built for you. The implant will fit perfectly into space and be placed at the proper height so that it matches with your natural bite. Many patients soon forget that their implant isn’t just another natural tooth.
The Process of Osseointegration
Your body will start to rebuild the bone surrounding the implant almost immediately. However, the bone buildup is not a completely rapid process. The osteoblasts and other connective tissue will begin to build bone around the implant and begin fusing inside of the microscopic holes in the implant. These small holes allow the bone to “grip” the actual implant and hold it in place. The process of osseointegration usually takes around six months to complete.
Your dentist will monitor your progress and make sure that there aren’t any issues during this time. Once the implant is secure and your dentist feels that you have adequately healed, they will install the top portion of your implant.
How Osseointegration Helps Your Implant
There are many other options for replacing missing teeth that are currently on the market. However, many of these options have some detrimental side effects that can cause further dental issues in the future.
When a tooth is no longer in place, and the root structure has been removed or decayed away, the body does not recognize the need to maintain the bone that once surrounded the tooth. This means that the body starts to remove that bone and absorb the minerals and nutrients. This process is called resorption. Over time, resorption will continue to deteriorate the bone. This can lead to less bone density in the jaw, less bone material to anchor surrounding teeth, and a weakening of the jaw structure. In severe cases, the bone loss can be so great that it will alter the appearance of a patient’s face.
Osseointegration triggers your body’s natural healing process and actually strengthens the bone surrounding your implant. This means that not only is your implant secure, but it helps to keep the surrounding teeth in place too. A stronger jaw is also less prone to breaking from a traumatic injury and maintains your facial appearance.
If you are considering replacing a missing tooth or teeth, schedule an appointment with your dentist today. Osseointegration is one of many benefits that dental implants offer, but your dentist can discuss if it is appropriate for your case.