Implant dentistry is the science and art of placing and restoring dental implants. This page provides some more technical background information on the technique so that you can understand the basis behind your dental implant procedure.
The Origins of Implant Dentistry
Dr. Per-Ingvar Brånemark is commonly called the father of dental implants because he discovered the concept of osseointegration—the ability of bone to integrate titanium—and realized that they were a good application of the concept.
In 1952, Dr. Brånemark and his colleagues were using titanium-coated optical devices to study bone healing when they discovered that the titanium had fused with the bone in the rabbit subjects. He performed some basic tests with his lab personnel acting as guinea pigs, but it wasn’t until the 1960s that he had his actual first patient, a man with a cleft palate who received four dental implants to anchor a denture. These first four remained in place and functioning until the man’s death, four decades later.
Then, in 1982, a full three decades after his initial discovery, Dr. Brånemark presented information about dental implants to an international audience that was very receptive to the concept.
Implant Dentistry Today
More than 60 years after the discovery of osseointegration, we understand the concept quite well, allowing us to perform predictable dental implant procedures.
For patients with less than ideal bone in the implant site, we might begin with a bone graft. This can be performed with bone taken from the patient, but there are other options as well that can be discussed during consultation. Sometimes bone grafting can be done at the time the implant is placed, but it may also be placed 3-6 months before we place the dental implant.
The first stage of dental implant procedure is usually the placement of the dental implant. The dental implant is typically made of titanium and it has a screw design. Once the dental implant is placed in the jawbone, we will evaluate its stability. If the implant is very stable, we might place a dental crown on it the day of the procedure. This allows you to have an attractive replacement tooth right away.
If the implant is less stable, we might put a healing cap in place that helps the gums form around the implant where the replacement tooth will be. If we have concern about the implant’s stability, the implant may be completely covered up with your gums to ensure it is protected during healing.
During healing, your bone will integrate the titanium of the dental implant. This procedure can take anywhere from 3-6 months. If you didn’t have an artificial tooth placed at the time the implant was placed, it will be placed when healing is complete.
Caring for Your Dental Implant
The last stage of implant dentistry is your at-home care. Mostly, this is simple.
During the recovery period after dental implants are placed, you may have medications you should take to avoid infection. You will also have to eat a soft food diet for a short period. During the recovery period, you will not brush or floss the surgical area, but rinse it thoroughly.
Once your implants are healed, you simply brush and floss normally and see a dentist regularly for preventive care. If you are in a high risk group, we might recommend that you come more often than twice a year.