How does a dental implant work?

A dental implant is an artificial tooth root made of titanium or ceramic. These materials are tolerated well by the human body, meaning a direct connection between implant and jawbone is achieved.

A dental implant can be a safe and aesthetic replacement for a lost tooth. Even from close range the result is nearly indistinguishable from your own teeth. The options range from replacing individual teeth with an implant and crown, to mounting an entire arch-restoring bridge on implants. From the smallest to biggest gaps we can replace your teeth with bespoke implant supported restorations.

How are dental implants inserted?

We gently and precisely place the implants into the jawbone under sterile conditions and under local anesthesia. There they have to heal into the bone, which usually takes three to six months. Under favorable conditions we can also extract teeth and immediately place implants and restore those implants in the anterior (back) region and in the area of ​​the premolars with a provisional crown. If you are afraid of the treatment, we can perform the procedure under sedation at your request.

During surgery, firstly we open the gums covering the the jawbone and prepare the bone for implantation. The length of the surgical procedure depends on the number of implants placed. Once the implants are firmly anchored in the bone we can attach a crown, bridge or denture to the dental implants.

Dental implants have been successfully used in oral surgery to replace missing teeth for many decades. The very good biocompatibility ensures a high success rate and this has been proven in many clinical trials. Thus implants are now among the most important therapies in modern dentistry.

How is a dental implant constructed?

Dental implant restorations consist of an implant body, abutment and crown. Speaking precisely, the implant really only refers to the implant body — ie the artificial tooth root, not the entire construction. The artificial root is in direct contact with the bone of the jaw. Then the implant abutment and the implant crown are attached, mostly via the abutment screw.

The implant body is in most cases made of pure titanium, which is very well accepted by the body. Rejections of implants are extremely rare — they occur in between one and two per cent of all cases. The reason for a failing implant is in most cases an infection caused by bacteria.

The implant abutment is a post made of titanium, ceramic or zirconiumdioxide (zirconia). It is connected to the implant body with a screw. The implant abutment serves as an anchor onto which the actual restorations — crowns, bridges or denture — is attached.

The implant crown is the visible part of the artificial tooth. It can either be cemented or screwed onto the abutment. Screw-retained implant crowns offer the advantage that the crown can be fixed without cement and can also be unscrewed again. Although this is very rare, in the case of inflammation of the implant the dentist can approach the diseased area of ​​the gum or bone very well with this kind of restoration. In most cases implant crowns are nowadays combined with an abutment or made from one piece of ceramic and then screwed onto the implant.

Dr Mehl has a special interest in implantology and is certified by the German Society of Implantology (DGI). In the videos below we explain in detail what advantages implant treatment offers and how it works.

Placing dental implants — before and after

If you have missing teeth, we can replace them with implants. Our videos show impressive images taken before, during and after treatment to demonstrate how it works.

New teeth thanks to immediate implantation

How does immediate implantation work? What is unique about this treatment?

Healing times of dental implants

Many patients want their dental implant to heal as quickly as possible so they can use it immediately. How long the healing time actually takes, however, depends on the implant system and the anatomy of the patient. Below we provide an overview.

Healing times of different implant systems

The implant is only completely healed when it has grown firmly into the bone and the process of osseointegration is completed. In normal bone growth the healing time mainly depends on the quality of the bone, the affected jaw and the type of implant. Often the dentist will be able to assess bone quality, how stable the implant is and when it can be loaded during the operation. Nevertheless, there are guidelines for the healing times.

Type of implant and its healing time

  • Upper jaw (without bone augmentation) 3-4 months
  • Lower jaw (without bone augmentation) 2-3 months
  • Upper jaw with bone augmentation (eg external sinus lift) 4-6 months
  • Lower jaw with bone augmentation (small augmentation, bone block) 3-6 months
  • In general, the less complicated the operation, the faster wound healing

In the upper jaw implants often take longer to fuse to the bone because the upper jawbone is softer. Longer healing times arise when bone has to be built up both in the upper and in the lower jaw. Again, the more complex the bone structure, the longer the healing time.

Modern implants attach faster to the bone

The surface of modern implants is specially prepared so that the artificial tooth root can heal faster into the bone. Studies have shown that the ideal surface is roughened because the bone can then grow better. In addition, the surfaces are also chemically pretreated to achieve an improved attachment of bone cells.

Do not confuse healing time with immediate loading

The possibility of immediate loading of implants means that the implants are screwed so stably into the bone that an immediate load is possible, although the healing is not yet completed. This method is used, for example, in the process of using fixed teeth in one day or for implants in the aesthetic zone at the front of the mouth. The prerequisite for this is a suitable implant system and precise diagnostics before the intervention by means of 3D x-ray (CBCT). It is important that the patient follows the instructions of the implantologist precisely to avoid overloading the implant.

For standard implants, immediate loading is usually not an option. In uncomplicated surgeries the patient may be able to eat soft food again after the aneasthetic has worn off, but chewing is to be avoided in the surgical area.

If necessary, patients will receive a removable temporary restoration after surgery. Often this must be relined again after about 14 days, since the gums are then back to their normal shape.

Why the healing takes some time

Immediately after surgery, the body begins to heal the wound. After the first ten days, bone-forming cells attach to the artificial tooth root and grow more and more tissue. At first it is still soft, but after a few months a stable bone has developed.

Bone training after the healing period

Chewing loads help stabilise and strengthen the bone tissue around the implant and at the end of the healing period the bone becomes more dense and the risk of unwanted loosening decreases.

X-rays and so-called strength tests help the dentist to monitor the progress of the healing process. Depending on the type of implantation, the patient receives their new denture only after completion of the healing period.

Problems with healing

Premature implant loss is rare (happening in between one and two per cent of cases). When it does happen, the problems usually occur in the healing phase. In some cases the artificial tooth root loses its hold in the bone or inflammation-related bone loss leads to implant loss. If you experience any problems contact us immediately and we will find a solution.

More questions?

Find answers to the most frequently asked ones below, or contact us for a personal consultation.


FAQs: Implants

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