Dental Implants

Dental implants, as we now know them, were first introduced in the early 1980’s and have evolved considerably since then. Quite simply, dental implants are glorified screws that are placed into the upper or lower jawbone. Once left to heal (healing time is anywhere from 3 weeks to 6 months) they are used to support a restoration (crown, bridge or denture). Dental implants are usually made out of titanium or a titanium alloy as the body tolerates this metal very well.

The biggest prerequisite for implants is sufficient amount of bone to stabilize the screw. In cases where there isn’t enough bone present, bone grafting may be required before or at the same time as implant placement.

Two main anatomical structures should be avoided when placing dental implants, the sinus in the upper jaw, and a nerve branch (the inferior alveolar nerve) that runs along the lower jaw. X-rays, including a CT scan, a 3-dimensional x-ray, is often taken prior to implant placement to allow the doctor to better visualize these structures as well as the amount of bone available and properly plan the surgery.

Success rates for dental implants are consistently shown in the literature to be greater than 95%. There is a very small chance that an implant will fail, for which the most common causes are smoking, poor systemic health (uncontrolled diabetes, lowered immune system, etc.), and infection.