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Oral Implants and Dental Implants Information

What is a Dental Implant?

A dental implant is an artificial tooth root used to support restorations that resemble a single tooth or a number of teeth. Almost all dental implants placed in the 21st century appear similar to an actual tooth root and are placed within the bone.

Dental implants can be used to support crowns, implant-supported bridges, dentures and other dental prostheses.

The History of Dental Implants

The Mayans have been discovered to have used the earliest known examples of oral implants embedded in the bone. While excavating Mayan burial sites in Honduras in 1931, archaeologists unearthed a fragment of mandible of Mayan origin, dating from about 600 AD. This mandible had three tooth-shaped pieces of shell placed into the sockets of three missing teeth.

In 1952, the Swedish orthopedic surgeon, Per-Ingvar Brånemark, discovered that bone can be grown into such close proximity with titanium that they effectively become adhered to each other.

This discovery was put to practical use when Brånemark placed the first titanium dental implant into Gösta Larsson.

At the same time, independent research in the United States by Stevens and Alexander led to a 1969 US patent filing for titanium oral implants.

In 1978, Brånemark entered into a commercial partnership with the Swedish defense company, Bofors AB for the development and marketing of his dental implants. With Bofors (later to become Nobel Industries) as the parent company, Nobelpharma AB (later to be renamed Nobel Biocare) was founded in 1981 to focus on the further development of dental implants. To the present day over 7 million Brånemark System implants have now been placed and hundreds of other companies produce oral implants..

Dental Implants: The Procedure

In its most basic form the placement of a dental implant requires a preparation into the bone using either hand osteotomes or precision drills with highly regulated speed to prevent burning or pressure necrosis of the bone. After a variable amount of time to allow the bone to grow on to the surface of the implant, a tooth or group of teeth can be placed on the implant. The amount of time required to place an implant will vary depending on the experience of the practitioner, the quality and quantity of the bone and the difficulty of the individual situation.

The Pros and Cons of Dental Implants


Dental implants are:

  • Natural looking
  • Functional
  • Comfortable, and
  • Can last an entire lifetime


Getting dental implants can be:

  • Expensive
  • Time consuming, and
  • Cause pain/discomfort that lasts a couple of days

Dental Implants: Recent Developments

Current research is focused on improving dental implants through the use of zirconium dioxide (AKA zirconia) in the manufacture of dental implants. Although generally the same shape as titanium implants, zirconium dioxide, which has been used successfully for orthopedic surgery for a number of years, looks more natural because of its bright tooth-like color. However, long-term clinical data is necessary before one-piece zirconia dental implants can be recommended for daily practice.

Dental Implants: Recovery

The length of time needed for an implant to bond with the bone (a process called osseointegration) is a hotly debated topic. The length of time that practitioners allow the implant to heal before placing a restoration on it varies widely. In general, practitioners allow two to six months for healing but preliminary studies show that early loading of implant may not increase early or long term complications. If the implant is loaded prematurely, it is possible that the implant may move which results in failure. The subsequent time to heal, possibly graft and eventually place a new implant may take up to eighteen months.

Problems with Dental Implants

Though dental implants are considered to be a better alternative to other teeth restorative options, there are some problems associated with oral implants. If the procedure is conducted by an experienced dentist, then problems with dental implants occur very rarely. The following are some of the problems that may develop after completion of the process:

Peri-implantitis is reported as one of the most common problems with dental implants. It is caused by microbial infection at the dental implant site. It is manifested as swelling and inflammation of the tissues that surround the dental implants. In severe cases, peri-implantitis may lead to damage of the jawbone.

Injuries and damages to the tissues adjacent to the implant site may occur. The affected area usually swells temporarily, which becomes normal within a few days. Proper care should be taken to prevent infection at the dental implant site.

Loose dental implants result from improper placement of the implant or failure of the implant to integrate with the jaw bone. At times, the dental implant may break at the site. In such cases, replacement of the oral implant should be done as soon as possible.

Nerve damage at the dental implant site occurs when the implant is placed very near a nerve. This causes unbearable pain, especially if the implant is positioned directly over the nerve. In these cases, the patient should report the pain immediately. The dentist may have to remove the implant and place it again.

Sinus problems may arise when the implantation procedure is performed on the upper jaw, and the implant disturbs any of the sinus cavities.

In order to effectively address dental problems with dental implants, the candidate must discuss the procedure’s pros and cons with his or her dentist. Furthermore, the patient must follow the necessary changes in diet, eating habits, personal hygiene and dental care prescribed by the dentist. If problems persist, seek immediate medical attention.

Dental Implants for Dentures

A full denture is difficult for many patients to wear and get used to. Sore spots and difficulty chewing are caused when a denture moves around in the mouth. Over time the dental ridges required to support a denture shrink, making it difficult for the dentures to stay in place.

Implants can be utilized to hold the denture in place and improve fit and function.

Lower dentures require 2 implants to properly hold them in place for normal function, one on each side. Additional implants, will provide additional stability.

Although implants are usually place for stability of lower dentures, implants can also be place to add to the stability of upper dentures.

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