Osseointegration and Dental Implants

A Central London dentist explains its role in the success of dental implants.

At the London Centre for Periodontics and Implant Dentistry we have placed dental implants for many patients from Chelsea, Richmond and many other parts of Central London. These implants will, provided that reasonable care is taken, last these patients for twenty years and often many more.

Why though does this procedure give the replacement tooth such longevity? It is down to a little known part of the process called osseointegration. This is a key part of the procedure and does necessitate the jawbone being drilled into. This can cause some patients anxiety and an expectation of a lot of pain.

The reality though is that the bone has very few nerves in it and is therefore not overly susceptible to pain. Added to this, the fact that our implant dentists are highly skilled and a local anaesthetic will be used, there is little to be concerned about.

Post Procedure

Although most people are immediately concerned with the actual procedure of placing the dental implant, it is, in fact, the following three months or so that is key to the success of its outcome. It is during this time that the osseointegration process takes place. Simply put, this is where the natural bone in the jaw starts to attach itself to the titanium implant which has been placed in the jaw. Over a period of time, this process continues and eventually the implant will be held extremely tightly in place by the bone and it is this that gives the implant its security.

This process happens because the brain recognises that there is now a ‘root’ to keep firmly in place and the body responds to this by the osseointegration process. Equally, when a tooth is lost and there is no root left, the bone structure will, in effect, waste away in that area as there is no longer a role for it. This can even alter the shape of a person’s face over time. By having a dental implant placed at our Central London clinic, the risk of your facial features changing is negated unlike if an alternative such as a denture or crown were used.

A small piece of science history

Osseointegration seems a strange process and some have asked about how it was discovered; after all the mixture of bone and titanium does not occur naturally. The fact is that the process was discovered purely by accident in the 1950s by a Swedish scientist who had been using titanium rods in an experiment on a rabbit. Having decided to re-use the titanium rods due to their high cost, he found, that on attempting to do so, it was almost impossible to remove them from the rabbit. On closer inspection, he noticed that this was due to the fact that the bone had grown around the rod.

Naturally, refining this process happened over a period of time and initially, it was used in medical procedures before the first titanium based dental implant was placed in the mid 1960s.

Titanium

At present, titanium is the only known material where the osseointegration process is successful. Unfortunately, it also happens to be one of the most expensive metals on our planet and this is one of the factors which drives up the cost of a dental implant procedure. Some less scrupulous dentists, usually based overseas, have tried to use implants made with a mixture of titanium and other metals in order to keep their costs down and thereby attract new customers. This is a recipe for disaster though as these implants will last for a much shorter period of time than the twenty years or more that should be expected from titanium implants.

We would like to assure any Central London patient from Chelsea, Richmond and beyond, that at the London Centre for Periodontics and Implant Dentistry, we only use the best quality dental implants and therefore our patients have every right to expect their dental implants to have a long and strong life.