Since the first oral implant was introduced in 1965 it has undergone incredible advancements that not only helped transform the face of modern dentistry over the last 50 years, but also contributed vastly to improving the quality of life of many people who endure the difficulties of having an incomplete set of teeth. They have gone from the crude objects of 1300 years ago that were made from pieces of seashells and carved stones which the ancient Mayans used to replace teeth into what is now a state-of-the-art tool for tooth replacement designed with scientifically advanced materials and technology.
But just how safe and effective are dental implants?
Well, history informs us that dental implants have a long track record of success. Scientific research have revealed that implant tooth technology have been in used as early as the Mayan civilization dating back to 600 A.D. Evidence of this were found when archeologists dug up ancient skulls that had teeth replaced with pieces of shells and carved stones such as jade and ivory. The same discoveries were made among ancient Egyptian civilization when Egyptian artifacts were discovered with tooth implants made from shells and ivory. These archaeological records showed that even though primitive methods and materials were used, early teeth implants actually fused to the jawbone.
In our modern times, dental implant procedures are considered highly successful. According to a 2014 study published in The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA), dental implants generally have a success rate of about 95%. Another study reported between 80 and 95% success rates depending on where the implants are located in the mouth. Both studies report that success rate is greater when the implant surgery is performed by a by a dentist who specializes in the procedure.
The long history of modern dental implant procedures, which has been in use for more than 30 years, and the generally very high success outcomes, combined with the use of high-tech materials that are biocompatible to the human body, makes implant tooth technology one of the safest and most predictable tooth replacement procedures in dentistry.
Modern dental implants are made of titanium, a metal alloy with a unique biocompatible characteristic that makes it safe for the body to use as well as hard-wearing properties that make it a strong and durable replacement for natural teeth. The ability to fuse with living tissue allows the dental implant to fuse with natural bone and meld just as naturally as real teeth would to real bone.
It is this process of fusing together that allows implants to perfectly fit and function just like real teeth. The process known as Osseointegration can take from between six to nine months to complete, depending on how well each patient heals.
How then can you best ensure your chances for success?
Research has shown that success rates are higher when the dental implant surgery is done by a trained surgeon. Implant specialists, called oral and maxillofacial surgeons (OMS), have obtained specialized education and training in the complexities of bone, skin, muscles and nerves that are directly involved in a dental implant procedure.
Ensure that you do a thorough research in the process of choosing a qualified oral surgeon to perform the implant surgery. A good surgeon will ask you to undergo a thorough examination which includes x-rays and scans and perform an in-depth evaluation of your medical history to reduce any potential risks of an implant failure.
Another contributing factor to dental implant success is the patient’s overall health. In order to get the best possible results, an implant patient should be in good general health, must have healthy gums and healthy bone density. A 2012 study published in the Clinical Oral Implants Research reported that dental implant procedures may be less successful for people who smoke, grind or clench teeth or have a history of radiation therapy, while those with diabetes or osteoporosis who have bone loss in the jaw may be at greater risk for complications.
A dental implant failure happens when the implant fails to fuse with the natural bone during the healing process. These cases are very rare and usually happens because of mechanical failure, such as when there is too much pressure on the implant structure causing the implant to move, and when there is an infection resulting from poor oral hygiene. Maintaining excellent oral hygiene is absolutely vital in ensuring dental implant success. Be vigilant about visiting your dentist regularly for aftercare and follow-up to check that your implants, teeth, and gums are healing properly.
A dental implant procedure is a surgical procedure, and as with any surgery, there may be certain risks and complications. However, as more and more people choose dental implant procedures over other tooth replacement procedures, they have emerged as the most preferred method for tooth replacement today, and not only that, with its high success rate, implant tooth replacement is considered to be one of the safest surgical procedures in dentistry today.