what is a dental implant?

A revolution in the treatment and replacement of missing teeth, the dental implant has changed the way that prosthodontist can improve the quality of life for patients. Dental implants are a replacement for a missing tooth root.  The implant is surgically placed in the bone and allowed the proper time to heal.  During this period, of 3-6 months, bone forming cells begin to remodel the micro-space between the implant surface and bone.  As new bone is formed it begins to attach to the surface of the implant, this process is termed “Osseointegration”.

Implants have a wide range of capabilities. They can replace a single missing tooth or support an entire arch of missing teeth through the use of several implants.  In combination with traditional prosthodontics, dental implants makes the reconstruction of the oral cavity with fixed restorations possible.  Of these many advantages the most advantageous is their ability to manipulate the body into thinking that there is a root that remains in the bone, and hence the body will actively try to maintain the structural bone support in the area.  


Osseointegration originally defined as the direct structural and functional connection between ordered living bone and the surface of a load carrying implant, normally comprised of titanium. An implant is regarded as osseointegrated when there is no relative movement between the implant and the bone with which it has direct contact. This means that in osseointegration there is an anchorage mechanism whereby titanium components can be reliably and predictably incorporated into living bone and that this anchorage can persist under all normal conditions of loading.

What Comprises an Implant Restoration?


The Implant:  Several implant manufacturers exist, each with their own design and surface.  Most implants are fabricated from commercially pure titanium or titanium alloy (TiAl4V6).  The surface texture and composition is unique to each company.


Implant Abutments:  These components engage the implant and creates a platform for the restoration to sit on.  There are several styles of abutments; ball and joint connections for removable dentures, custom designed to mimic a natural tooth abutment.


Implant Prosthesis: The type of prosthesis will have a direct influence on the number of implants needed and the type of abutment that may be necessary.  Different prosthetics require the use of various abutments and attachments.