Dental implants are among the most successful restoration procedures in dentistry. Studies have shown a five-year success rate of approximately 95% for lower jaw implants and 90% for upper jaw implants. The success rate for upper jaw implants is a little lower because the upper jaw is less dense than the lower jaw. This makes it harder for implantation and osseointegration (the process where the implant integrates with the jaw bone) to take place.
Dental implants may fail for a number of reasons:
- Implant Positioning – If the placement of the implant is not ideal, the osseointegration process may not occur properly.
- Breakage – Implants can sometimes fracture or break.
- Infection – An infection or an inflammatory condition in the gum or bone.
- Smoking – Smoking decreases the healing ability of the body and blood flow necessary for proper healing.
- Poor Oral Hygiene – Poor hygiene can lead to the development of peri-implantitis around dental implants, which is similar to how gum disease forms around the natural tooth.
Implant procedures can be performed in the dental office with local anesthesia.
The actual implant procedure involves several steps:
- The implant or implants are surgically placed into the jaw.
- The jaw is allowed to heal for a period of up to six months. During this stage, the bone grows and bonds in and around the implant(this is also known as osseointegration). The dentist may create a temporary tooth replacement for the patient to wear over the implant site during the healing period.
- The implant is uncovered, and a small metal post called an abutment is attached. The gum is again allowed to heal for a couple of weeks following this procedure.
- The restoration or crown is fabricated and permanently attached to the abutment.
Note that there are some implant systems (one-stage) that do not require step 3 above. These systems use an implant which already has the abutment attached. The implant procedure may be a cooperative effort between a surgical dentist who does the actual implant placement and a restorative dentist who creates and inserts the final replacement teeth. Some dentists have advanced training and can perform all of these services.