Almost all dental implants in use today are made from titanium or titanium alloy, materials that have been shown over many years to be well tolerated by bone.
The terms 'osseointegrated implants' or 'endosseous implants' are widely used to describe dental implants that can develop and maintain a close union with bone in order to support replacement teeth.
There are many different implant systems available and when competently used they can all deliver a highly reliable form of treatment.
A dental implant is essentially a substitute for a natural root and commonly it is screw or cylinder shaped. Each implant is placed into a socket carefully drilled at the precise location of the intended tooth.
If an implant has a screw-thread on its outer surface it can be screwed into position and if it does not, it is usually tapped into place.
If an implant has a screw-thread on its outer surface it can be screwed into position and if it does not, it is usually tapped into place. The main aim during installation of any implant is to achieve immediate close contact with the surrounding bone.
This creates an initial stability, which over time is steadily enhanced by further growth of bone into microscopic roughnesses on the implant surface.
In order to support replacement teeth, dental implants normally have some form of internal screw thread or post space that allows a variety of components to be fitted. Once fitted, these components provide the foundation for long-term support of crowns, bridges or dentures.
How many teeth can be supported by implants?
All the common forms of tooth replacement, such as bridges or dentures can be replaced by dental implants.
If you are missing just one natural tooth, then one implant is normally all that will be needed to provide a replacement. Larger spaces created by two, three or more missing teeth do not necessarily need one implant per tooth, however the exact number of implants will depend upon the quality and volume of bone at each potential implant site.
Occasionally, it is even possible to join natural teeth to implants with a conventional bridge.
In the upper jaw, bone density is generally poorer than in the lower and if you have no teeth at all, most treatment providerswill want to place a minimum of 6 implants to support a complete arch of 10 or more replacement teeth.
In the lower jaw, the bone towards the front of the mouth is often very strong and as a direct result, fewer implants may be needed than are required to treat a whole upper jaw. A simple treatment plan to provide 10 or more teeth in the lower jaw might be possible with as few as 4 implants, although it is still more common to use 5 to 8.
Can dental implants be placed next to natural teeth?
Dental implants are routinely placed beside natural teeth and this is generally very safe to do. The only exception to this would be if the natural root was very curved or tilted unfavourably in the proposed path of the implant. This could cause the root to be damaged by the implant, however this can usually be avoided by careful pre-operative planning.
If a tooth is inadvertently damaged by the placement of a nearby implant, any resulting problems can generally be resolved by root canal treatment in which the nerve of the natural tooth is removed.